Moses Sofer

Moses Sofer

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Moses Schreiber, known to his own community and Jewish posterity as Moshe Sofer, also known by his main work Chasam Sofer, (trans.
Translation
Translation is the communication of the meaning of a source-language text by means of an equivalent target-language text. Whereas interpreting undoubtedly antedates writing, translation began only after the appearance of written literature; there exist partial translations of the Sumerian Epic of...

 Seal of the Scribe and acronym for Chidushei Toras Moshe Sofer), (1762–1839), was one of the leading Orthodox
Orthodox Judaism
Orthodox Judaism , is the approach to Judaism which adheres to the traditional interpretation and application of the laws and ethics of the Torah as legislated in the Talmudic texts by the Sanhedrin and subsequently developed and applied by the later authorities known as the Gaonim, Rishonim, and...

 rabbi
Rabbi
In Judaism, a rabbi is a teacher of Torah. This title derives from the Hebrew word רבי , meaning "My Master" , which is the way a student would address a master of Torah...

s of European Jewry
Judaism
Judaism ) is the "religion, philosophy, and way of life" of the Jewish people...

 in the first half of the nineteenth century. He was a teacher to thousands and a powerful opponent to the Reform movement
Reform Judaism
Reform Judaism refers to various beliefs, practices and organizations associated with the Reform Jewish movement in North America, the United Kingdom and elsewhere. In general, it maintains that Judaism and Jewish traditions should be modernized and should be compatible with participation in the...

, which was then making inroads into many Jewish communities in Austria-Hungary
Austrian Empire
The Austrian Empire was a modern era successor empire, which was centered on what is today's Austria and which officially lasted from 1804 to 1867. It was followed by the Empire of Austria-Hungary, whose proclamation was a diplomatic move that elevated Hungary's status within the Austrian Empire...

 and beyond. As Rav of the city of Bratislava
Bratislava
Bratislava is the capital of Slovakia and, with a population of about 431,000, also the country's largest city. Bratislava is in southwestern Slovakia on both banks of the Danube River. Bordering Austria and Hungary, it is the only national capital that borders two independent countries.Bratislava...

, he maintained a strong Orthodox Jewish perspective through communal life, first-class education, and uncompromising opposition to Reform and radical change.

The Chasam Sofer established a yeshiva
Yeshiva
Yeshiva is a Jewish educational institution that focuses on the study of traditional religious texts, primarily the Talmud and Torah study. Study is usually done through daily shiurim and in study pairs called chavrutas...

 in Bratislava
Bratislava
Bratislava is the capital of Slovakia and, with a population of about 431,000, also the country's largest city. Bratislava is in southwestern Slovakia on both banks of the Danube River. Bordering Austria and Hungary, it is the only national capital that borders two independent countries.Bratislava...

 which became the most influential yeshiva in Central Europe, producing hundreds of future leaders of Hungarian Jewry. This yeshiva continued to function until World War II; afterwards, it was relocated to Jerusalem under the leadership of the Chasam Sofer's great-grandson, Rabbi Akiva Sofer (the Daas Sofer).

The Chasam Sofer is an oft-quoted authority in Orthodox Jewish scholarship. Many of his responsa
Responsa
Responsa comprise a body of written decisions and rulings given by legal scholars in response to questions addressed to them.-In the Roman Empire:Roman law recognised responsa prudentium, i.e...

 are required reading for semicha
Semicha
, also , or is derived from a Hebrew word which means to "rely on" or "to be authorized". It generally refers to the ordination of a rabbi within Judaism. In this sense it is the "transmission" of rabbinic authority to give advice or judgment in Jewish law...

 (rabbinic ordination) candidates. His Torah
Torah
Torah- A scroll containing the first five books of the BibleThe Torah , is name given by Jews to the first five books of the bible—Genesis , Exodus , Leviticus , Numbers and Deuteronomy Torah- A scroll containing the first five books of the BibleThe Torah , is name given by Jews to the first five...

 chiddushim (original Torah insights) sparked a new style in rabbinic commentary
Rabbinic literature
Rabbinic literature, in its broadest sense, can mean the entire spectrum of rabbinic writings throughout Jewish history. However, the term often refers specifically to literature from the Talmudic era, as opposed to medieval and modern rabbinic writing, and thus corresponds with the Hebrew term...

, and some editions of the Talmud
Talmud
The Talmud is a central text of mainstream Judaism. It takes the form of a record of rabbinic discussions pertaining to Jewish law, ethics, philosophy, customs and history....

 contain his emendations and additions.

Early years


Moses Sofer was born in Frankfurt am Main
Frankfurt
Frankfurt am Main , commonly known simply as Frankfurt, is the largest city in the German state of Hesse and the fifth-largest city in Germany, with a 2010 population of 688,249. The urban area had an estimated population of 2,300,000 in 2010...

, (now Germany) on September 24, 1762, during the Seven Years' War
Seven Years' War
The Seven Years' War was a global military war between 1756 and 1763, involving most of the great powers of the time and affecting Europe, North America, Central America, the West African coast, India, and the Philippines...

. (8 Tishrei
Tishrei
Tishrei or Tishri , Tiberian: ; from Akkadian "Beginning", from "To begin") is the first month of the civil year and the seventh month of the ecclesiastical year in the Hebrew calendar. The name of the month is Babylonian. It is an autumn month of 30 days...

 5523
on the Hebrew calendar
Hebrew calendar
The Hebrew calendar , or Jewish calendar, is a lunisolar calendar used today predominantly for Jewish religious observances. It determines the dates for Jewish holidays and the appropriate public reading of Torah portions, yahrzeits , and daily Psalm reading, among many ceremonial uses...

).

His father's name was Shmuel (Samuel) (d. 1779, 15 Sivan
Sivan
Sivan is the ninth month of the civil year and the third month of the ecclesiastical year on the Hebrew calendar. It is a spring month of 30 days...

 5539
) and his mother's name was Reizel the daughter of Elchanan (d. 1822, 17 Adar
Adar
Adar is the sixth month of the civil year and the twelfth month of the ecclesiastical year on the Hebrew calendar. It is a winter month of 29 days...

 5582
). Shmuel's mother, Reizchen (d. 5 May 1731 in Frankfurt am Main), was a daughter of the Gaon
Gaon (Hebrew)
Gaon originally referred in Ancient Hebrew to arrogance and haughty pride . Later became known as pride in general: whether good or bad . Today it may refer to:...

of Frankfurt
Frankfurt
Frankfurt am Main , commonly known simply as Frankfurt, is the largest city in the German state of Hesse and the fifth-largest city in Germany, with a 2010 population of 688,249. The urban area had an estimated population of 2,300,000 in 2010...

 Rabbi Shmuel Schotten
Samuel Schotten
Rabbi Shmuel Schotten HaCohen , known as the Mharsheishoch, became Rabbi of the Grand Duchy of Hesse-Darmstadt in 1685.- Life and work :...

, known as the Marsheishoch (died, 1719, 14 Tamuz
Tamuz
* For the month of Jewish calendar, see Tammuz .* For the month of Arabic and Babylonian calendar, see Tammuz .* For a supernatural creature from Babylonian mythology, see Tammuz ....

 5479
in Frankfurt am Main), his namesake.

Education


At the age of nine, Moses entered the yeshiva
Yeshiva
Yeshiva is a Jewish educational institution that focuses on the study of traditional religious texts, primarily the Talmud and Torah study. Study is usually done through daily shiurim and in study pairs called chavrutas...

 of Rabbi Nathan Adler
Nathan Adler
Nathan HaKohen Adler was a German kabbalist born in Frankfurt, December 16, 1741. As a precocious child he won the admiration of Chaim Joseph David Azulai , who, in 1752, came to Frankfurt to solicit contributions for the poor of Palestine...

 (1741–1800, d. 27 Elul 5560) at Frankfurt. At the age of thirteen, he began to deliver public lectures. His knowledge was so extraordinary that Rabbi Pinchas Horowitz
Pinchas Horowitz
Rabbi Pinchas HaLevi Horowitz was a rabbi and Talmudist.-Life:The descendant of a long line of rabbinical ancestors and the son of Rabbi Zvi Hirsch Horowitz of Chortkiv, he received a thorough Talmudic education, chiefly from his older brother, Rabbi Shmelke of Nikolsburg, together with whom he...

 of Frankfurt
Frankfurt
Frankfurt am Main , commonly known simply as Frankfurt, is the largest city in the German state of Hesse and the fifth-largest city in Germany, with a 2010 population of 688,249. The urban area had an estimated population of 2,300,000 in 2010...

 asked him to become his pupil. He agreed, but remained under Rabbi Horowitz for only one year, and then left in 1776 for the yeshiva
Yeshiva
Yeshiva is a Jewish educational institution that focuses on the study of traditional religious texts, primarily the Talmud and Torah study. Study is usually done through daily shiurim and in study pairs called chavrutas...

 of Rabbi David Tebele Scheuer
David Tebele Scheuer
David Tebele Scheuer was a German rabbi.Born in Frankfurt am Main in 1712, he was one of the outstanding students of the Shev Yaakov, Rabbi Jacob Cohen in Frankfurt. He served as Dayan of Frankfurt during the entire time that the Pnei Yehoshua, Rabbi Yehoshua Falk was Rabbi of Frankfurt...

 (1712–1782, d. Shmini Atzeres 5543) in the neighboring city of Mainz
Mainz
Mainz under the Holy Roman Empire, and previously was a Roman fort city which commanded the west bank of the Rhine and formed part of the northernmost frontier of the Roman Empire...

, which gladly welcomed him. There he studied under its Rosh Yeshiva
Rosh yeshiva
Rosh yeshiva, , , is the title given to the dean of a Talmudical academy . It is made up of the Hebrew words rosh — meaning head, and yeshiva — a school of religious Jewish education...

 Rabbi Mechel Scheuer
Mechel Scheuer
Rabbi Mechel Scheuer was born in Frankfurt am Main in 1739 to his father Rabbi David Tebele Scheuer. He led his father's Yeshiva in Mainz as its Rosh Yeshiva during the years 1776 and 1777....

 (1739-1810 d. 27 Shevat 5570) son of Rabbi Tebele during the years 1776 and 1777 until he yielded to the entreaties of his former teachers in Frankfurt and returned to his native city. In Mainz many prominent residents took an interest in his welfare and facilitated the progress of his studies. In addition to his vast Talmudic knowledge, he was also proficient in astronomy
Astronomy
Astronomy is a natural science that deals with the study of celestial objects and phenomena that originate outside the atmosphere of Earth...

, geometry
Geometry
Geometry arose as the field of knowledge dealing with spatial relationships. Geometry was one of the two fields of pre-modern mathematics, the other being the study of numbers ....

, and history.

Boskovice, Prostějov, Strážnice and Mattersdorf


In 1782 Rabbi Nathan Adler was called to the rabbinate of Boskovice
Boskovice
Boskovice is a town in the Czech Republic.-Location:The town is situated in the Drahanská Highlands, about 30–40 km to the north of Brno, the most important city of Moravia.-History:...

, Moravia
Moravia
Moravia is a historical region in Central Europe in the east of the Czech Republic, and one of the former Czech lands, together with Bohemia and Silesia. It takes its name from the Morava River which rises in the northwest of the region...

 and Rabbi Sofer followed him. He went, at Rabbi Adler's advice, to Prostějov
Prostejov
Prostějov is a city in the Olomouc Region of the Czech Republic. Today the city is known for its fashion industry and special military forces based there....

, Moravia
Moravia
Moravia is a historical region in Central Europe in the east of the Czech Republic, and one of the former Czech lands, together with Bohemia and Silesia. It takes its name from the Morava River which rises in the northwest of the region...

, where on 6 May 1787 he married Sarah, the daughter of the deceased rabbi of Prostějov, Rabbi Moses Jerwitz (d. 1785). Rabbi Moses Sofer became a member of the Chevra Kadisha
Chevra Kadisha
A chevra kadisha is a loosely structured but generally closed organization of Jewish men and women who see to it that the bodies of Jews are prepared for burial according to Halacha and are protected from desecration, willful or not, until burial...

 (Shu"t Chasam Sofer
Responsa
Responsa comprise a body of written decisions and rulings given by legal scholars in response to questions addressed to them.-In the Roman Empire:Roman law recognised responsa prudentium, i.e...

, Y"D
Yoreh De'ah
Yoreh De'ah is a section of Rabbi Jacob ben Asher's compilation of halakha , Arba'ah Turim around 1300. This section treats all aspects of Jewish law not pertinent to the Hebrew calendar, finance, torts, marriage, divorce, or sexual conduct....

:327) and eventually became head of the yeshiva there.

In 1794, Sofer accepted his first official position, becoming Rabbi of Strážnice, after he had procured the sanction of the government to settle in that town. In 1797 he was appointed Rabbi of Mattersdorf
Mattersburg
Mattersburg is a town in Burgenland, Austria. It is the administrative center of the District of Mattersburg and home to a Bundesliga football team, SV Mattersburg.- Location :...

 (currently Mattersburg, Austria); one of the seven communities (known as the Siebengemeinden
Siebengemeinden
The Siebengemeinden were 7 Jewish communities located in Eisenstadt and its surrounding area. The groups are known as Sheva Kehillot in Hebrew....

 or Sheva kehillot) of Burgenland
Burgenland
Burgenland is the easternmost and least populous state or Land of Austria. It consists of two Statutarstädte and seven districts with in total 171 municipalities. It is 166 km long from north to south but much narrower from west to east...

. There he established a yeshiva
Yeshiva
Yeshiva is a Jewish educational institution that focuses on the study of traditional religious texts, primarily the Talmud and Torah study. Study is usually done through daily shiurim and in study pairs called chavrutas...

, and pupils flocked to him. His prime pupil in Mattersdorf, was the future Gaon
Gaon (Hebrew)
Gaon originally referred in Ancient Hebrew to arrogance and haughty pride . Later became known as pride in general: whether good or bad . Today it may refer to:...

 Rabbi Meir Ash
Meir Eisenstaedter
Rabbi Meir Eisenstaedter - or Meir Ash - known as the Maharam Ash was one of the greatest Talmudists of the nineteenth century. He is best known as author of "Imre Esh" - the collection of his responsa published by his son in 1864...

 (Maharam Ash) (1780–1852), Rabbi of Uzhhorod
Uzhhorod
Uzhhorod or Uzhgorod is a city located in western Ukraine, at the border with Slovakia and near the border with Hungary. It is the administrative center of the Zakarpattia Oblast , as well as the administrative center of the surrounding Uzhhorodskyi Raion within the oblast...

.

Pressburg


He declined many offers for the rabbinate, but in 1806 accepted a call to Bratislava
Bratislava
Bratislava is the capital of Slovakia and, with a population of about 431,000, also the country's largest city. Bratislava is in southwestern Slovakia on both banks of the Danube River. Bordering Austria and Hungary, it is the only national capital that borders two independent countries.Bratislava...

, Austrian Empire
Austrian Empire
The Austrian Empire was a modern era successor empire, which was centered on what is today's Austria and which officially lasted from 1804 to 1867. It was followed by the Empire of Austria-Hungary, whose proclamation was a diplomatic move that elevated Hungary's status within the Austrian Empire...

 (now capital of Slovakia
Slovakia
The Slovak Republic is a landlocked state in Central Europe. It has a population of over five million and an area of about . Slovakia is bordered by the Czech Republic and Austria to the west, Poland to the north, Ukraine to the east and Hungary to the south...

). In Bratislava, he established a yeshiva
Pressburg Yeshiva (Austria-Hungary)
Pressburg Yeshiva, established in 1807 in the city of Pressburg, Austrian Empire by Rabbi Moses Sofer , was the largest and most influential yeshiva in Central Europe...

, which was attended by as many as 500 pupils. Hundreds of these pupils became the rabbis of Hungarian Jewry. Among them were:

  • Rabbi Yehuda Aszod (Yehudah Ya'aleh), (1794–1866)
  • Rabbi Aharon Duvid Deutsch (Goren Duvid), (1813–1878)
  • Rabbi Dovid Zvi Ehrenfeld (d. 1861), (son-in-law)
  • Rabbi Shmuel Ehrenfeld (1835–1883), (Chasan Sofer) (grandson)
  • Rabbi Aharon Fried (Tzel Hakesef), (1813–1891)
  • Rabbi Chaim Joseph Gottlieb
    Hayyim Joseph Gottlieb of Stropkov
    Chaim Yosef Gottlieb of Stropkov, , known as the Stropkover Rov, was a student of Rabbi Moshe Schreiber and author of Tiv Gittin ve-Kiddushin, published by his sons in Ungvar in 1868....

     of Stropkov
    Stropkov
    Stropkov is a town in Stropkov District, Prešov Region, Slovakia.-History:Stropkov is an economical, social and cultural centre of north Zemplín...

    .
  • Rabbi Menachem Katz, (1795–1891)
  • Rabbi Yisroel Yitzchok Aharon Landesberg, (1804–1879)
  • Rabbi Hillel Lichtenstein
    Hillel Lichtenstein
    Rabbi Hillel Lichtenstein was a Hungarian rabbi; born at Veča 1814; died at Kolomyia, Galicia , May 18, 1891. After studying at the Yeshiva of the Chassam Sofer, he married in 1837 the daughter of a well-to-do resident of Galanta, where he remained until 1850, when he was elected rabbi of Margarethen...

     (Kolomea) (Maskil El Dol), (1815–1891)
  • Rabbi Chaim Zvi Mannheimer (Ein Habdoilach), (1814–1886)
  • Rabbi Yehuda Modrin (Trumas Hacri), (1820–1893)
  • Rabbi Menachem Mendel Panet (Maglei Tzedek), (1818–1884)
  • Rabbi Meir Perles, (1811–1893)
  • Rabbi Avrohom Schag (Ohel Avrohom), (1801-1876)
  • Rabbi Dovid Schick (Imrei Duvid) (died: 1890) brother of Moshe Schick
    Maharam Shik
    Rabbi Moshe Shik was a Rosh Yeshiva and Posek, and one of the leading Hungarian rabbis of his time ....

     
  • Rabbi Moshe Schick
    Maharam Shik
    Rabbi Moshe Shik was a Rosh Yeshiva and Posek, and one of the leading Hungarian rabbis of his time ....

     (Maharam Schick), (1807-1879)
  • Rabbi Avraham Yehuda Hacohen Schwartz (Kol Aryeh), (1824-1883)
  • Rabbi Shimon Sidon
    Shimon Sidon
    Rabbi Shimon Sidon was a Hungarian rabbi; born at Nadash on January 24, 1815 to Yehuda Sidon from Kunitz and Eidel. He died at Trnava on December 20, 1891 . At age thirteen in 1829 he entered the Yeshiva of the Chassam Sofer and studied there for nine years until 1838...

     
    (Shevet Shimon) (1815 - 1891), Rabbi of Cifer and Trnava
  • Rabbi Aharon Singer, (c. 1806-1868)
  • Rabbi Avrohom Shmuel Binyamin Sofer
    Samuel Benjamin Sofer
    Avraham Shmuel Binyomin Sofer, , also known by his main work Ksav Sofer , , was one of the leading rabbis of Hungarian Jewry in the second half of the nineteenth century and rosh yeshiva of the famed Pressburg Yeshiva.-Early years:Shmuel Binyomin Sofer was born in Pressburg on March 13, 1815...

     
    (Ktav Sofer), (1815-1872) (son)
  • Rabbi Chaim Sofer
    Chaim Sofer
    Chaim Sofer was a renowned Hungarian rabbi and "scholarly spokesperson for Orthodox Judaism during his time."-Biography:...

     
    (Machne Chaim), (1822-1886)
  • Rabbi Naftali Sofer (Matei Naftali), (1819-1899)
  • Rabbi Shimon Sofer, (1821-1883) (son)
  • Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Spitzer (Tikun Shloime), (1811–1893), (son-in-law), Rabbi of Schiff Shul in Vienna
  • Rabbi Yoel Unger (Teshuvas Rivo), (1800-1886)

  • Fight against changes in Judaism



    The Chasam Sofer led the community of Bratislava for 33 years until his death in 1839. It was his influence and determination that kept the Reform movement
    Reform Judaism
    Reform Judaism refers to various beliefs, practices and organizations associated with the Reform Jewish movement in North America, the United Kingdom and elsewhere. In general, it maintains that Judaism and Jewish traditions should be modernized and should be compatible with participation in the...

     out of Bratislava.

    From the late 18th century onwards, movements which eventually developed into Reform Judaism began to progress. Synagogues subscribing to these new views began to appear in centres such as Berlin and Hamburg
    Hamburg
    -History:The first historic name for the city was, according to Claudius Ptolemy's reports, Treva.But the city takes its modern name, Hamburg, from the first permanent building on the site, a castle whose construction was ordered by the Emperor Charlemagne in AD 808...

    . Sofer was profoundly opposed to the reformers and attacked them in his speeches and writings. For example in a responsum of 1816 he forbade the congregation in Vienna
    Vienna
    Vienna is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Austria and one of the nine states of Austria. Vienna is Austria's primary city, with a population of about 1.723 million , and is by far the largest city in Austria, as well as its cultural, economic, and political centre...

     to allow a performance in the synagogue of a cantata
    Cantata
    A cantata is a vocal composition with an instrumental accompaniment, typically in several movements, often involving a choir....

     they had commissioned from the composer Ignaz Moscheles
    Ignaz Moscheles
    Ignaz Moscheles was a Bohemian composer and piano virtuoso, whose career after his early years was based initially in London, and later at Leipzig, where he succeeded his friend and sometime pupil Felix Mendelssohn as head of the Conservatoire.-Sources:Much of what we know about Moscheles's life...

     because it would involve a mixed choir. In the same spirit he also contested the founders of the Reformschule (Reform synagogue) in Bratislava
    Bratislava
    Bratislava is the capital of Slovakia and, with a population of about 431,000, also the country's largest city. Bratislava is in southwestern Slovakia on both banks of the Danube River. Bordering Austria and Hungary, it is the only national capital that borders two independent countries.Bratislava...

    , which was established in the year 1827.

    In response to those who stated that Judaism
    Judaism
    Judaism ) is the "religion, philosophy, and way of life" of the Jewish people...

     could change or evolve, Sofer applied the motto
    Hadash asur min ha-Torah , "Innovation (of the Torah) is forbidden by the Torah
    Torah
    Torah- A scroll containing the first five books of the BibleThe Torah , is name given by Jews to the first five books of the bible—Genesis , Exodus , Leviticus , Numbers and Deuteronomy Torah- A scroll containing the first five books of the BibleThe Torah , is name given by Jews to the first five...

    ", (homelitically based on the Biblical law, in Leviticus 23:14, that new grains are forbidden to be used before Passover, see Yoshon
    Yoshon
    In Judaism, Chodosh is a concept within Kashrut , based on the Biblical requirement not to eat any grain of the new year prior to the annual Omer offering on the 16th day of Nisan.Grain products which are no longer affected by this law are referred to as Yoshon .-The five types of...

    ). For Sofer, Judaism
    Judaism
    Judaism ) is the "religion, philosophy, and way of life" of the Jewish people...

     as previously practiced was the only form of Judaism
    Judaism
    Judaism ) is the "religion, philosophy, and way of life" of the Jewish people...

     acceptable. In his view the rules and tenets of Judaism
    Judaism
    Judaism ) is the "religion, philosophy, and way of life" of the Jewish people...

     never changed — and cannot ever change. This became the defining idea for the opponents to Reform, and in some form, it has continued to influence Orthodox response to innovation in Jewish doctrine and practice.

    Second marriage and progeny


    Rabbi Sofer's first wife Sarah died childless on 22 Jul 1812. He re-married to Sarel (Sarah) (1790–1832, d. 18 Adar II 5592), the widowed daughter of the illustrious Rabbi Akiva Eger
    Akiva Eger
    Rabbi Akiva Eger, or Akiva Güns, , was an outstanding Talmudic scholar, influential halakhic decisor and foremost leader of European Jewry during the early 19th century....

    , Rav of Poznań
    Poznan
    Poznań is a city on the Warta river in west-central Poland, with a population of 556,022 in June 2009. It is among the oldest cities in Poland, and was one of the most important centres in the early Polish state, whose first rulers were buried at Poznań's cathedral. It is sometimes claimed to be...

    , in 1812
    (23 Cheshvan 5573). She was the widow of Rabbi Avraham Moshe Kalischer (1788–1812), Rabbi of Piła, the son of Rabbi Yehuda Kalischer, author of Hayod Hachazoka.

    With his second wife, the Chasam Sofer had seven daughters and three sons. The latter were: Rabbi Avrohom Shmuel Binyamin Sofer
    Samuel Benjamin Sofer
    Avraham Shmuel Binyomin Sofer, , also known by his main work Ksav Sofer , , was one of the leading rabbis of Hungarian Jewry in the second half of the nineteenth century and rosh yeshiva of the famed Pressburg Yeshiva.-Early years:Shmuel Binyomin Sofer was born in Pressburg on March 13, 1815...

    (known as the
    Ksav Sofer); Rabbi Shimon Sofer (known as the Michtav Sofer), who became the Rav of Kraków
    Kraków
    Kraków also Krakow, or Cracow , is the second largest and one of the oldest cities in Poland. Situated on the Vistula River in the Lesser Poland region, the city dates back to the 7th century. Kraków has traditionally been one of the leading centres of Polish academic, cultural, and artistic life...

    ; and Rabbi Joseph Yuzpa Sofer. His sons and daughters produced a line of respected Torah scholars who were named along the lines of
    Chasam Torah — as, for instance, the Shevet Sofer (his son's son), the Daas Sofer (his grandson's son), and the Chasan Sofer (his daughter's son, whose name is an acronym for Chiddushei Toras Neched Sofer, "Torah Insights of the Grandson of Sofer"). The Chasam Sofer and his family lived on the bottom of Zamocka Street where the Hotel Ibis is now located.

    Many synagogue
    Synagogue
    A synagogue is a Jewish house of prayer. This use of the Greek term synagogue originates in the Septuagint where it sometimes translates the Hebrew word for assembly, kahal...

    s and yeshiva
    Yeshiva
    Yeshiva is a Jewish educational institution that focuses on the study of traditional religious texts, primarily the Talmud and Torah study. Study is usually done through daily shiurim and in study pairs called chavrutas...

    s worldwide bear the name and follow the legacy of the Chasam Sofer. Notable among them are the Pressburg institutions in London, England, headed by his descendant, Rabbi Shmuel Ludmir (who has published much of his work), and the yeshiva and institutions of the Erlau
    Erlau (Hasidic dynasty)
    Erlau , also spelled Erloy and Erloi, is a Hasidic dynasty named for the town of Eger, a Hungarian city situated between Miskolc and Pest. During the early Middle Ages the town was named Erlau by the German, Avar, and Slavonic tribes living there...

     dynasty in Israel, headed by his direct descendant, Rabbi Yochanan Sofer
    Yochanan Sofer
    Rabbi Yochanan Sofer is the Rebbe of the Erlau Hasidic dynasty, a small-sized movement in Orthodox Judaism. He was born in Erlau , Hungary, where his father and grandfather served as Grand Rabbis...

    . The Institute for Research of the Teachings of the Chasam Sofer, founded by Rabbi Yochanan in Jerusalem, Israel, researches and deciphers handwritten documents penned by the Chasam Sofer, his pupils and descendants and has printed hundreds of sefarim
    Sefer (Hebrew)
    Sefer in simple Hebrew is a word that means any kind of "book" It is derived from the same Hebrew root-word as sofer , sifriyah and safrut ....

    . The Erlau community is Hasidic
    Hasidic Judaism
    Hasidic Judaism or Hasidism, from the Hebrew —Ḥasidut in Sephardi, Chasidus in Ashkenazi, meaning "piety" , is a branch of Orthodox Judaism that promotes spirituality and joy through the popularisation and internalisation of Jewish mysticism as the fundamental aspects of the Jewish faith...

    -style, though strictly follows to the Ashkenaz customs as did the Chasam Sofer.

    Death and burial place



    He died in Bratislava on October 3, 1839 (25 Tishrei 5600).

    A modern Jewish memorial, containing Moses Sofer's grave and those of many of his associates and family, is located in Bratislava. It is situated underground below Bratislava Castle
    Bratislava Castle
    Bratislava Castle is the main castle of Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia.The massive rectangular building with four corner towers stands on a quite isolated rocky hill of the Little Carpathians directly above the Danube river in the middle of Bratislava...

     at the left bank of the Danube
    Danube
    The Danube is a river in the Central Europe and the Europe's second longest river after the Volga. It is classified as an international waterway....

    ). The nearby tram
    Tram
    A tram is a passenger rail vehicle which runs on tracks along public urban streets and also sometimes on separate rights of way. It may also run between cities and/or towns , and/or partially grade separated even in the cities...

     station is named after him.

    The preservation of these graves has a curious history. The Jewish cemetery in Bratislava was confiscated during the regime by the anti-Semitic ruler catholic priest Jozef Tiso
    Jozef Tiso
    Jozef Tiso was a Slovak Roman Catholic priest, politician of the Slovak People's Party, and Nazi collaborator. Between 1939 and 1945, Tiso was the head of the Slovak State, a satellite state of Nazi Germany...

     in 1943 to build a roadway. Negotiations with the regime enabled the community to preserve the section of the cemetery including the Chasam Sofer's grave, enclosed in concrete, below the surface of the new road. The regime complied either as a consequence of a large bribe (according to one story), foreign pressure (according to another story), or for fear of a curse if the graves were destroyed (according to yet another story).

    Following the declaration of independence by Slovakia in 1992, new negotiations were undertaken to restore public access to the preserved graves. In the mid-1990s, the International Committee for Preservation of Gravesites of Geonai Pressburg was formed to support and oversee relocation of tram tracks and building of a mausoleum. In 1999, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the then-mayor of Bratislava Jozef Moravčík
    Jozef Moravcík
    Jozef Moravčík is a Slovak diplomat and political figure. He served as the Prime Minister of Slovakia from 16 March 1994 to 13 December 1994, and later as the Mayor of Bratislava.- References :*...

    , Chairman of the Committee Romi Cohn and Chairman of the Bratislava Jewish Religious Community Peter Salner. Construction of the mausoleum was completed after overcoming numerous technical and religious issues and opened on July 8, 2002. Access to the mausoleum can be arranged through the local Jewish community organisation.

    See also


    • Pressburg Yeshiva (Austria-Hungary)
      Pressburg Yeshiva (Austria-Hungary)
      Pressburg Yeshiva, established in 1807 in the city of Pressburg, Austrian Empire by Rabbi Moses Sofer , was the largest and most influential yeshiva in Central Europe...

    • Pressburg Yeshiva (Jerusalem)
      Pressburg Yeshiva (Jerusalem)
      Pressburg Yeshiva of Jerusalem is a leading yeshiva located in the Givat Shaul neighborhood of Jerusalem, Israel. It was founded in 1950 by Rabbi Akiva Sofer , a great-grandson of Rabbi Moses Sofer , who established the original Pressburg Yeshiva in the Austrian-Hungarian Empire in 1807...

    • Shmuel Ehrenfeld
      Shmuel Ehrenfeld
      Shmuel Ehrenfeld , known as the Mattersdorfer Rav, was a pre-eminent Orthodox Jewish rabbi in pre-war Austria and a respected Rav and community builder in post-war America. He established Yeshivas Chasan Sofer in New York and taught thousands of students who went on to become leaders of American...


    External sources