We will tell you the story of Rav Joseph, Rabbah's friend and successor. The Talmud, both Babylonian and Jerusalem, are full of Rav Joseph's name, in connection with laws and teachings, because he was one of the greatest Amoraim of his time.

When Rav Joseph was born, there were three great yeshivoth in Babylon: Rav Judah bar Ezekiel was the dean of the yeshiva in Pumbeditha, Rav Huna was dean in Sura, and Rav Nach­man led the yeshiva in Nehardea.

Rav Joseph was a disciple both of Rav Huna and Rav Judah, especially of the latter. Rav Joseph soon became famous as a great Talmudic scholar, and Rav Nachman, the dean of the yeshiva in Nehardea, Rav Huna's friend, acclaimed Rav Joseph as "Sinai"-meaning to say that he had a perfect knowledge of the complete Torah. Rav Nachman, who was not much older than Rav Joseph, was the son-in-law of the "Exilarch" ("Head of the Exile"), and was also dean of the yeshiva in Nehardea, as we have mentioned. Rav Joseph learned Torah also from him, for some time.

Approximately in the year 4060 (300) the leaders of the yeshivoth in Pumbeditha and Sura died. They were succeeded by Rabbah bar Nachmani in Pumbeditha, and Rav Chisda in Sura. Rabbah was Rav Joseph's colleague, and we find many laws and sayings in the Talmud that were said in the name of both of them: "Rabbah and Rav Joseph both said..." Actually, after Rav Judah's death, the Sages did not know whom to appoint as head of the yeshiva in Pumbeditha, because Rabbah and Rav Joseph were both very great Talmudic scholars. The Sages, therefore, sent messengers to Eretz Yisroel to inquire as to which is more important, a "Sinai" or "an uprooter of mountains," meaning, in other words, someone with a vast knowledge (Sinai) or someone with a sharp brain (an uprooter). (Rabbah was famous for his sharp brain). The Sages of Eretz Yisroel replied that a "sinai" was more important, but even so, Rav Joseph declined the honor of becoming dean, and therefore his colleague was chosen instead.

During the term of Rabbah's dean­ship, Rav Joseph paid him the greatest respect, as a pupil towards his teacher, and at the same time helped him to spread the knowledge of the Torah. The other pupils of Rabbah regarded Rav Joseph also as their teacher.

Rav Joseph had a thorough knowledge of the innermost secrets of the Torah. Rav Joseph was an extremely modest person and had a high regard for every Talmudic scholar. Whenever he made a mistake, he did not hesitate to admit it.

Rav Joseph was a treasurer for charity, and he used to help to collect and give away money for poor people.

Shabbos and Yom-Tov were very dear to him. He himself used to chop wood in honor of Shabbos. His favorite Yom-Tov was Shovuos, "The time of the giving of our Torah." He used to say, "Were it not for that day, when the Torah was given, I would have been like many other Josephs wandering in the marketplace!" He meant to say, that without the Torah he would not have reached the high level that he did through the Torah.

Rav Joseph fasted one hundred and twenty fasts, and he prayed to G‑d that the Holy Torah should never leave his children. When he lived to see his children and grandchildren all become great Talmudic scholars, he knew that his prayers had been answered; he felt sure that his future generations would be upright and faithful Jews. So is it written in the Torah. "They (the words of the Torah) will not remove themselves from your mouth, nor from the mouths of your children and grand­children for ever."

Approximately in the year 4082 (322) when his colleague Rabbah died, Rav Joseph occupied the position of dean in the yeshiva of Pumbeditha, which he kept for about two and a half years, until he died at an old age.

Under his leadership, the yeshiva in Pumbeditha blossomed even more, and he himself supported four hundred scholars from his own pocket.

Amongst his greatest pupils were Abaye and Rovo, and Abaye later took over Rav Joseph's position as dean of the yeshiva in Pumbeditha.

In his old age, Rav Joseph became blind, due to a severe illness, which also affected his memory. He still continued his teachings, however, and his beloved pupil, Abaye, used to remind him many times of a law or a saying that Rav Joseph himself had previously said but had forgotten.

Rav Joseph's disciples respected him just as before when he was not blind and had a clear knowledge of the Torah.

Rovo, his pupil, used to walk backwards when leaving Rav Joseph's presence, as one does when leaving a great Talmudic scholar or a king, even though Rav Joseph was blind and did not see him. Rovo used to walk backwards until he reached the doorstep of the house. When Rav Joseph was told of Rovo's action, Rav Joseph blessed him that he should become a great man and he also should receive great honor. Rovo actually did become the greatest Torah authority after his colleague Abaye died.

On the day that Rav Joseph died, a great flood broke out near the River Euphrates, as similar natural changes had taken place at the death of other great Torah personalities.