Born in Walerstein, Bavaria (Germany). He served in various rabbinic posts in Poland, Bohemia, Austria and Russia. He died in Cracow.
This critical commentary is attached to the explanatory commentary of Rabbi Obadiah of Bertinoro, paralleling the relationship of the Tosafot to Rashi's commentary on the Babylonian Talmud. In keeping with that model, Rabbi Heller points out real and apparent contradictions within Bertinoro's commentary and between the commentary and its Talmudic sources; as well as adding explanations to points that were omitted by Bertinoro. Occasionally Rabbi Heller takes Bertinoro to task for mechanically copying Rashi's interpretation of the Mishneh without taking into account modifications required by the Talmudic discussions.
The Tosefot Yom-Tov strove to establish a reliable text of the Mishnah, and his emendations were incorporated into subsequent printings.
Rabbi Heller had originally intended to compose a complete, independent commentary that would embody the pedagogic goals of his teacher Rabbi Loeb of Prague (the "Maharal") who had called for a revival of Mishnah study as an antidote to the contrived casuistry ("pilpul") that had come to dominated much of the curriculum of Talmud study in his days.