"Regal" was the word used by gedolei hador to
describe Rabbeinu, the rov of Pressburg.
Just like Dovid Hamelech, who was always the king,
whether at the height of his rule or as a fugitive on
the run, so too Rabbeinu kept his regal bearing and
royal manner in both good times and bad.
In Pressburg, where his word was law and all flocked to
hear him, he remained the same as when he lived later
alone in his remote corner in Yerushalayim. Those who
saw him in both places found it hard to believe that a
one-time leader of thousands could later just sit on
the side unobtrusively, never giving his opinion until
he was asked.
Upon disembarking from the ship on the shores of
Eretz Yisroel, the Daas Sofer had said, "I hereby
take off the mantle of leadership and from today on I'm
an ordinary Jew."
When, in his old age, his attendants wanted to post a
notice on his door stating times that the Rebbe could
receive people, he refused to allow it, saying, "In
Pressburg I was rov of the city. Here, however, I'm a
poshute Yid and can't dictate to other
Yidden when to come and when not."
During his visit to London in 1959, a woman came to the
Pressburger Rov, complaining bitterly that the war had
robbed her of all her wealth. Rabbeinu tried to console
her, encouraging her to trust in Hashem Whose ways are
ultimately good. However, the woman refused to be
comforted, claiming that her loss was too great to
bear. At that point, the Rov said to her quietly, "When
Hitler entered Poland, I too lost all my wealth. I had
received from my father-in-law shares in the oil wells
of Drubitch, a business which was churning out a profit
of 18 dollars every hour (a considerable sum in those
days). In one fateful night all was swept away and,
nevertheless, 20 years have past and Boruch
Hashem we're alive and well."
The Pressburger Rov was venerated not only by
Pressburg's Jews, but even by gentiles who would stand
at attention and doff their hats until Rabbeinu passed
His son, Reb Simcha Bunim (Schreiber) shlita,
tells an amazing story, to which he was witness as a
"For the Yomim Noraim, the Rebbe (he was called
the Rebbe even by his own children) used to daven
in the large central shul of Pressburg, this
being one of the conditions made when he was appointed
"One year on Yom Kippur morning, a wealthy Jew walked
into the shul wearing shoes. The Torah and its
mitzvos meant nothing to him and he considered his
attendance once a year as an interesting custom rather
than a religious observance. For some reason, he still
recognized the importance of an aliya and was by
far the highest bidder when they were sold before
leinen. As he was being called up to the Torah,
the Rebbe sent the gabbai to instruct him to take off
his shoes. The man shrugged his shoulders and continued
to the bimah. Again, the Rov sent the
gabbai, begging him not to desecrate the Torah's
sanctity by saying the blessing while transgressing its
commandment on this holiest of days. Blatantly, the man
refused and he defiantly ascended the bimah. The
Rebbe's face darkened as the man's brochoh rang
out loud and clear.
"We all watched the scene with bated breath," continued
R' Simcha Bunim. "No one said a word. However,
retribution was swift to come. In front of all of us,
just as the man completed his brochoh, he turned
deathly pale. His eyes rolled upward as he grasped the
bimah for support and then crumpled dead in a
heap on the floor. Silence reigned as he was carried
out and tefillos resumed with a heightened awe of
Hashem and his Prince!"
As inconspicuous as he tried to be, the gedolim
of his generation recognized Rav Akiva's true value.
When the Brisker Rov started to wage his famous battle
against Heichal Shlomo in Jerusalem, he sent out a
strongly-worded letter voicing his opposition. In
addition to his own name, he looked for a godol
to whom he could turn to sign the letter together with
him, and who could be better than the Daas Sofer,
continuing the battle of the holy Chasam Sofer,
zy"a, against the reformers.
The Belzer Rov (Reb Aaron, zt"l) went to visit
Rabbeinu whenever he came from Tel Aviv to
Yerushalayim. His attendants related that whenever he
went, he asked that his shoes be polished in honor of
the Daas Sofer. On one such visit, the Belzer Rebbe
asked that Rabbeinu bless him, placing his hands on his
head. The Daas Sofer refused until the Rebbe begged him
a few times, after which he agreed.
A few days later, the Pressburger Rov was walking in
Meah Shearim with his shamash, when a beggar
extended his hand for a donation. Having received a
sum, he lifted his hands, intending to place them on
Rabbeinu's head in blessing. In defense of his Rebbe's
honor, the shamash pushed off the beggar's hands,
but Rabbeinu gently stopped him, saying, "If the
saintly Belzer took a brochoh from a lowly person
such as me with hands on his head, then I too can take
a blessing in this manner from the beggar."
His miraculous escape from the clutches of the Nazi
conquerors was a nes nistar. It is known that the
Chasam Sofer, his son the Ksav Sofer, and grandson the
Shevet Sofer, each served as rov of Pressburg for
After thirty-two years in his position as rov, the Daas
Sofer was unsure what to do. Many rabbonim suggested
that he change his place of rabbonus and lead another
city. Meanwhile, Rabbeinu traveled in the month of Elul
to his son, who lived in Lugano, Switzerland. World War
II had just broken out and European Jews faced a future
clouded with uncertainty.
In a letter to his uncle, R' Shimon Sofer of Erlau, son
of the Ksav Sofer who was one of the oldest rabbonim of
the generation, the Pressburger Rov asked whether he
should return to Pressburg as his kehilloh needed
him, or to stay in Lugano according to the wishes of
his family members who were concerned at the outbreak
The telegram from the Erlauer Rov was short. "Stay in
Lugano until after Purim." Strange as the instructions
were, they were clear and the Daas Sofer stayed in
Lugano that winter.
Towards the end of the winter, all plans of returning
to Pressburg were suddenly canceled, as the Pressburger
Rov received an entry visa to Palestine. Since these
were hard to come by, the Rov took it as a sign that
his destiny lay in Eretz Hakodesh and,
remembering his uncle's telegram, he duly booked a
place on the ship that was to leave after Purim.
The large vessel that pulled out of Italy on its way to
Palestine was the last to leave Italian shores before
the country came under Nazi rule, barring all escape.
Thus Rabbeinu ended his rabbonus in Pressburg after
Towards the end of his life, a Jew from Pressburg who
lived in Yerushalayim came to the Daas Sofer with a
sheilah. He had no source of income and had been
offered a good job as a restaurant manager in a hotel.
However, prior to accepting, he had heard that the
hotel's proprietor was of doubtful integrity and the
hechsher had been removed. The unscrupulous owner
was sure that if people heard this Yid was
manager, the hechsher would be returned and
therefore he offered him a substantial wage.
The Daas Sofer saw the case in its true light,
realizing that the hotel proprietor wished to fool the
"Al tischaber lorosho," he warned the Yid.
"And I promise you in the zchus of my
grandfather, the Chasam Sofer, you will shortly be
blessed with a good parnossoh."
Relieved of his burden of doubt, the Yid obeyed
the Rov. His reward was soon to follow, when he was
offered a prestigious job earning him a better wage
than that he had been promised by the hotel.