Rabbi Josef Rosen, “The Rogatchover Gaon” 1858-1936. 16×20 Acrylic on canvas
Rabbi Josef Rosen, also known as the Rogatchover Gaon is the most colorful personality
in this series and admittedly my favorite. He was the leader of a Hassidic community in
Dvinsk for five decades. An intensely devoted Talmud and Torah scholar, his learning
almost never ceased. He had a photographic memory and could literally quote any
passage in any Talmud tractate. Orthodox Jews from near and far visited and wrote to
him seeking his halachic advice, which he gave honorably. At times he had a sharp wit
and quite a limited patience for ignorance. He was a purist in Jewish tradition, never
quoting any scholar post-Rambam. He also refused to take off his kippah for a haircut.
Similar stories abound. He was truly a Talmid Chacham and an unforgettable man.