As soon as Rabbi Yoav Yehoshua was born, his righteous parents, R' Nosson Nota zt"l and Rivkoh o"h promised that he would be given the best chance to learn Torah. The child showed extraordinary talent and genius and as soon as he was old enough, he was sent to learn under the guidance of the Agudas Eizov in Biala.
From there he went on to learn with his rebbe muvhak, the author of Avnei Neizer of Sochatchov zt"l.
Chassidim would say that the Kotzker Rebbe blessed the Avnei Neizer on the day of his chuppah that he should have talmidim small in quantity but great in quality, ones that of whom he could say "umitalmidei yoser mikulom." They would add that HaRav Yoav Yehoshua was definitely a fulfillment of this brochoh.
When he became of age, the daughter of R' Yaakov Mendelsman of Radan was suggested as a match. R' Yaakov, however, was unsure whether to agree or not, for he had heard that Yoav Yehoshua had weak lungs and was ill. He decided to ask his rebbe, the Chiddushei HaRim, who told him to send the bochur to him for an interview. The Chiddushei HaRim laid his hand on the prospective chosson's shoulder and announced, "He is healthy!" The Chelkas Yoav later said that from then on he was never ill even with so much as a cold, and all his life he never needed to take medication.
After his marriage, Reb Yoav Yehoshua stayed with his father- in-law for 15 years. He then moved to Noshlesk, where his rebbe the Avnei Neizer was rov, and he was immediately appointed dayan of the city.
In 5643 (1883), after his rebbe left the city, the Chelkas Yoav became rov in Litimonsk. In 5649 (1889), he was crowned with the rabbonus in Gastinin and in 5654 (1894) in Kintzk where he remained for twenty- eight years.
When he published his sefer Chelkas Yoav in 5663 (1903) the Torah world was electrified. In 5665 (1905), the second volume came out with its famous Kuntrus Kaba Dekushaiseh, comprising one hundred-and-three kushios covering various subjects. Lately these seforim have been printed a few times over.
On Shabbos night parshas Noach on the 4th of Cheshvan, the Chelkas Yoav passed away in Kintzk and was buried in the cemetery there. His son, the gaon Reb Meir was appointed his successor and led his people until the town as wiped out in Elul 1941, Hy"d.
HaRav Yoav Yehoshua was indeed famous as one of the geonim of prewar Poland. In addition, great as he was in Torah, so too was the greatness of his holy middos.
A talmid of the Chelkas Yoav once brought a new sefer to show his rebbe, one of the talmid's own chiddushim. The rebbe was infused with pure joy at having merited to see a pupil of his writing chiddushim and printing a sefer. However, his bright smile faded when he began reading the sefer and discovered that most of the chiddushim were his very own. The talmid had simply copied the novella of his rebbe out of Reb Yoav Yehoshua's notebook and presented them as his own. The rabbi was speechless at the audacity of the geneivoh, yet he refused to upset his pupil.
For a few moments he stood and thought and then rendered his decision. Not only would he say nothing of the theft, but the Rebbe even removed the chiddushim that had been duplicated from his own notebook and hid them so that no one should find out the truth and choliloh embarrass or shame the young man.
In addition, a short while later, the same talmid came to the Chelkas Yoav with a request. Since he was now learning Gittin and remembered that in the Rebbe's notebook there was a lengthy and sound explanation — please could he borrow the notebook? Immediately the book in question was given over as the rebbe muttered to himself "Al tevi'eini lidei nisoyon, don't let me embarrass a Jew choliloh."
When time passed and the talmid passed away in a plague that broke out, the Chelkas Yoav was brokenhearted that perhaps his hurt feelings had brought about the man's untimely death.
The local shochet was known as a lamdan and talmid chochom, but also as a strong character, not always compatible with everyone.
At one point, the townspeople began to complain about him, intending to oust him from his job. The rov, however, refused to do so unless they had a justified complaint, particularly as he was known as a talmid chochom and expert in the field of shechitoh.
On Purim, the shochet was drunk and began to sing badchonus. Between the lyrics he mentioned a few things that were not to the Chelkas Yoav's liking. After Purim, the Rabbi called for the shochet. "From your divrei leitzonus, I see that you lack fear of G-d," began the Rabbi. "I do not want to dismiss you from your job completely, but personally I do not wish to eat meat that you have slaughtered. I therefore ask you to notify me of the weeks when you're the one to slaughter the meat so that I can be careful. But know, you are forbidden to tell anyone of this conversation."
And so they shared the secret between them — the Rov and the shochet until the former's death. All so as not to slight the shochet.
In another town, an argument broke out between a shochet and the heads of the city, and they decided to turn the Chelkas Yoav to settle the dispute. The shochet came to the Chelkas Yoav before the din Torah was to take place and during the course of their conversation, the Rabbi asked the newcomer, "Tell me, to whom do you show your knife (to check it) if at the moment you don't get on with the rov of your city?"
"Hah!" the man laughingly replied. "I show the knife to the ox before I slaughter it!"
The Rov turned to him and said in no uncertain terms, "I beg you, do not tell a soul you were here. I cannot be your borer after hearing this terrible mockery of yours. However, so as not to harm you, neither of us will say you were here and you find yourself another borer!"
The middos ho'emmes of the Chelkas Yoav was legendary and even his rebbe the Avnei Neizer testified to this in an amazing way.
The daughter of Reb Yoav Yehoshua was struck with typhus as a young girl and was deathly ill. The chevra kadisha had already been called to her bedside. As the sound of bitter crying and wailing reached the house of the Avnei Neizer, the latter went over to his pupil's house and stood next to the bed of the girl. After a few minutes her condition began to improve and she soon recovered completely.
When the time came for the girl to marry, the famous philanthropist Reb Zvi Kalish, a Radomsker chossid, came to the Avnei Neizer to inquire about his talmid muvhak's daughter, asking him where he could glean the correct information regarding her health.
The Avnei Neizer thought for a few minutes and then said, "Listen to my advice. Go to Reb Yoav Yehoshua, the girl's father himself, and ask him. He will tell you the absolute truth in full detail. I guarantee you he won't sway a hairsbreadth from the truth, even in exchange for all the wealth in the world!"