Before he was twenty years old, the accomplishments
attributed to R' Simcha Bunim Sofer were widely
"His head is like that of his great-grandfather, Rabbi
Akiva Eiger," said one godol of him. HaRav Shmuel
Rosenberg zt"l, rav of Unsdorf, would relate to
his talmidim with wonder of the fifteen-year-old
bochur who in one hour would learn six pages of
the sefer, Tumim or from Shittah
Mekubetzes. "Furthermore, I can vouch that all he
has learned is in perfect order in his mind and clearly
Talmidei chachomim of Pressburg who learned with
him were always under the impression that the boy must
have just been learning the subject they happened to be
discussing with him, so well-versed was he in any
sugya chosen at random.
It is no wonder then that the Shevet Sofer was known as
"The Young Chasam Sofer."
When the Divrei Chaim of Zanz was in a health resort
close to Vienna, he received word that the Shevet Sofer
was hospitalized in Vienna. Immediately, the Zanzer
took his cane and eagerly made his way to visit.
Naturally, the visit was taken up completely by Torah
discussions, with both patient and visitor growing
progressively involved in their discussion. The sharp
odor of disinfectant in the ward seemed to fade and a
whiff of Gan Eden hovered between the two.
Upon leaving the room, the Divrei Chaim's eyes flashed
fire, as he turned to his aides and commented, "So
great a talmid chochom at such a young age
doesn't exist by us in Galicia."
With the passing of the Ksav Sofer, the Pressburg
community automatically turned to Rabbi Simcha Bunim as
their next guide. All the generation greats accepted
the leadership of the young Rav.
Rabbeinu, true to the mesorah handed down from
the Chasam Sofer, was fearless. With courage and
endurance he fought any breach in the wall of
Yiddishkeit until he persevered.
Overnight a talmid chochom in Vienna was heir to
a massive fortune. The man, carried away by his new
wealth, wanted to open his business on Shabbos with a
heter that the company was officially sold to a
non-Jew, as is brought by the poskim.
Rabbenu beseeched him to cancel the idea, based on the
psak of the Chasam Sofer, who was against using
this loophole. His pleas fell on deaf ears.
The Rav's second message was sharper, including a
warning not to desecrate Hashem's name by keeping his
company open on Shabbos. His words had no effect on
their recipient. However, after a while, the sinner
lost vast sums in one bad transaction after another. It
was only a matter of time before he was at the feet of
the Shevet Sofer begging for mercy.
"If you promise me," assured Rabbeinu," that you will
close up before Shabbos, then success will once again
shine upon your endeavors."
The man gave his word and indeed his fortunes rose once
On erev Yom Kippur, Pressburg's Jews would line
up at the door of the Rov to receive his blessing for
the coming year, as children go to their fathers for a
brochoh. Time was short, but no one would miss
In one such instance, a brokenhearted congregant
tarried a little longer to pour out his woes to the
Shevet Sofer. He had been married seventeen years and
still had no children. Pleading with the Rov to bless
him with having a healthy child, the man broke down
sobbing. Time was ticking on and the holiest day was
drawing ever closer.
"I hereby bless you that during the course of the year,
Hashem will draw you out of your misery with the birth
of a son."
His words were fulfilled, as Tzaddik gozer veHashem
Two business partners encountered a difficult problem
and became locked in an argument that seemed to have no
solution. Pretty certain that Mr. L. was wrong, Mr. C.
summoned him to the beis din of the Shevet Sofer.
Brazenly, Mr. L. refused to stand in judgment before
the Rov, insisting that they rather attend a gentile
court. Even the emissary of the Rov himself was curtly
A few days later, the townspeople were shocked to hear
of the sudden, untimely death of Mr. L.
A small Jewish village not far from Pressburg did not
possess its own Jewish cemetery, but leased one from a
Every ten years the contract was renewed, to the
satisfaction of both parties. One year, however, the
woman informed the Yidden that she would not be
renewing the lease. The kehilloh was panic-
stricken. Who knew what would become of the small
cemetery if it were left in the hands of the
goyim, who had no respect for a living Jew, let
alone the deceased!
Two representatives were sent to Pressburg to present
their problem to the Shevet Sofer.
Reb Simcha Bunim received them warmly and, after
hearing of the widow's refusal to renew her contract,
he was silent for a few moments. Then, raising his
head, the Rov answered the men confidently, "Lechaim
ulesholom. You can travel peacefully home. With
Hashem's help and in the merit of the deceased Jews in
the cemetery, nothing will happen to it."
The two returned home to their small village.
A few days later they were once again at the home of
the Shevet Sofer, this time to report the miraculous
turn of events that had taken place.
"The night after our return from Pressburg, we sat up
into the late hours, pondering our case. All at once,
we were startled by an urgent knocking on the window,
as a hoarse voice whispered, `Open the door, quickly —
please open.' In the darkness, we barely made out the
trembling figure of the widow, the owner of the burial
grounds. She hurriedly entered the house, looking
fearfully over her shoulder as though afraid someone
was after her.
" `What I told you is canceled,' she blurted out almost
hysterically. `I take back every word.'
"Gasping for breath, she told us that her dead husband
came to her in a dream. His face was screwed up in an
angry grimace and, brandishing a stick, he began
hitting his former wife for her wicked plans concerning
the Jewish cemetery. `See here. I'm covered with welts,
cuts and bruises from his angry blows. Take your
cemetery and have it for keeps. I want to have nothing
to do with it anymore!'"
In the eulogy that the rav of Verbau, HaRav Yitzchok
Weiss zt"l, gave on the passing of the Shevet
Sofer, he related a story to which he was witness.
It was Thursday afternoon and in the slaughterhouse on
the outskirts of Pressburg, pandemonium broke out. An
ox had broken loose and was running towards the town. A
number of the brave men gave chase, but were unable to
catch the animal until it came to the building where
the Shevet Sofer lived. With determined stubbornness,
the ox made its way laboriously up the two stories,
coming to a stop at the Rov's door.
Two burly gentiles who worked at the slaughterhouse
were called in to try to get the ox downstairs. The
beast, however, sat on its haunches, refusing to budge,
its eyes raised to the Shevet Sofer's door. Hearing a
commotion outside, the Rov opened his door and was told
what happened. "Take him," said the Rov, "to the
shochet and slaughter him lichvod Shabbos
Kodesh and that will be his tikkun."
Following this, the ox was calmly led back to the
After the shechitah, a sheiloh was
discovered in one of its lungs and Rabbenu did his
utmost to pasken the animal kosher. Although the
Shevet Sofer was usually particular not to eat from
meat that had been questioned, nonetheless this time he
asked to be served on Shabbos from this particular ox,
"for the sake of the nefesh that needed its