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25 Adar 5773 - March 7, 2013 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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HaRav Avrohom Shag, zt"l, of Koibesdorf

In honor of his yahrtzeit, 29 Adar

His great rebbe, Maran the Chasam Sofer zy"a, once mentioned in passing concerning Reb Avrohom Shag that for a two kilometer radius around Pressburg there was none to compare to him. It is no wonder then that once at a meeting of several great rabbonim and talmidei chachomim including the Chasam Sofer himself, the latter accorded R' Avrohom great honor. When Reb Avrohom arose to leave the meeting, his rebbe got up and went to accompany Rabbeinu out, leaving the other distinguished men considerably surprised. Seeing their expressions, the Chasam Sofer answered them, "Come and let me show you his greatness in Torah."

He then called R' Avrohom back into the room and showed him a difficulty in the gemora. Within a few minutes Reb Avrohom had made the subject so lucid that all those present understood the Chasam Sofer's behavior towards his pupil.

Once when Reb Avrohom was taking a long train journey, he asked his aides to help him alight at the next station, for he was extremely thirsty and in need of a drink. At the next stop, however, the revered rov of Mattersdorf, R' Aharon Singer zt"l, got on the train. Delighted to have met R' Avrohom, he immediately began to ask him some sheilos in halochoh. From there the conversation led on from one Torah subject to the next, continuing until the two of them reached their destination.

R' Avrohom's attendants all the while did not dare to interrupt the "chavrusa" and at the end of the journey apologized for not having given Rabbeinu anything to drink. With a wave of his hand, Rabbeinu allayed their concern. "I'm not thirsty anymore. I've just drank gallons of live-giving water, for as Chazal tell us, `Ein mayim eloh Torah.' "


Rabbi Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld zt'l, a talmid of R' Avrohom, recounted that from all the surrounding areas people would come to Rabbeinu and leave their money for safekeeping. He placed a mezuzoh together with the deposits so that if a fire should break out, chas vesholom, on Shabbos, he would be allowed to move the money in order to save the mezuzoh, as is brought in the Shulchan Oruch.


His grandchildren in Yerushalayim related the following interesting story:

An old woman was once seen in the streets of Yerushalayim running and asking where the G-dly man Rabbi Avrohom Shag was buried? When she was asked why, she revealed her miraculous history.

"My mother a"h worked as a maid in the house of Rabbi Avrohom Shag in Koibesdorf for many years. When anyone came to leave money with the Rabbi for safekeeping, he would write the name of the owner on the bundle and place it in a certain closet. It happened that a Yid once brought a large sum to deposit while Reb Avrohom was in the middle of learning. Absorbed in the sugya he was studying, Rabbeinu wrote the name down and placed the money absentmindedly in his sefer, subsequently forgetting about it.

After a while the owner returned to reclaim his money. The Rabbi went to the closet, but could find no parcel with the name of this Jew.

Puzzled, he tried to figure out where the money could be, and the thought crossed his mind that perhaps his Jewish maid had been desperate for cash and had taken it. After all, she was the only stranger there who could come and go as she pleased. Immediately he reconsidered and silently chastised himself for suspecting a loyal and devout Jewish woman of theft. However, all his good will would not enable him to find the money to return to the Yid who was waiting.

Reb Avrohom needed time to consider how to go about finding the thief and asked the man to wait a few days. Meanwhile, he borrowed money to give to him.

Once the man had left, Rabbeinu did not tell anyone of the whole affair or of his suspicions. He just by the way mentioned to his Rebbetzin to keep an eye on the maid and not to leave money or valuables unattended.

The months went by and the weeks preceding Pesach found Reb Avrohom cleaning out his seforim. As he banged out a large sefer, a bundle of money fell out onto the table. How startled was Rabbeinu to see the name of the aforementioned Yid on the bundle.

His feelings over having suspected an innocent person overwhelmed him and R' Avrohom could find no peace. Finally, he called for the Jewish maid and related the entire story to her. Bursting into tears of remorse, the Rabbi begged the woman to forgive him, adding that he was prepared to pay her damages with anything she wished from the entire house.

"At the time," the woman continued her story, "my mother had already been married fifteen years and had not yet been blessed with children."

Seeing this as her opportunity, she tearfully informed Rabbeinu that undoubtedly she forgave him, but he should promise her that she would have a child.

Rabbeinu blessed her with an assurance that she would have a child within a year and would furthermore merit to live a lengthy life.

"I am the child born through this brochoh," concluded the woman, "and I have come to daven at the tziyun of Reb Avrohom Shag, zt"l."


Rabbeinu had a minhag to leave the doors of his house wide open for guests on Leil HaSeder. Year after year even with all his gold and silver laid out on the table in honor of the yom tov, he had no qualms about having his house wide open.

One year a group of thieves decided they would wait until the family went to sleep after the seder and Rabbi Avrohom would fall asleep on his hessa-bed, and then they would help themselves to the gold and silver.

They had no problem entering through the open doors. As they were proceeding, suddenly Rabbeinu awoke with a start and called out in a loud voice, "Leil Shimurim," causing the thieves to drop everything and escape in fright.

The family tried to persuade the Rov to discontinue his minhag, but he insisted that the incident was proof itself that Pesach night is indeed a leil Shimurim, and they had nothing to fear. The doors stayed open for all the years to follow.


When Rabbenu decided to leave his city Koibesdorf and settle in Eretz Yisroel, his talmid muvhak Reb Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld, was in a quandary. He felt unworthy of the responsibility and zchus of living in the Holy Land, but life without his Rebbe was simply inconceivable. In the end, he joined R' Avrohom in the arduous journey, even training as a shochet beforehand so that for the three Shabboses they were traveling, Rabbenu would have meat lichvod Shabbos.

Upon arrival in Yerushalayim, R' Avrohom was immediately beset with requests to lead the city's Jews. He learned and taught Torah day and night and had a hand in preventing the "Enlightenment" from breaching the walls of Yerushalayim, having had experience in fighting the maskilim back in Koibesdorf.

"On the last Thursday night of Rabbenu's life in this world," related his talmid R' Yosef Chaim, "I heard from my Rebbe three short words as he closed his gemora. He said to me, `Doh endigen mir, — this is where we finish.' "

Reb Yosef Chaim, who knew that none of his Rebbi's words were without meaning, feared the worst. He fasted on Friday and ran to daven at the kivrei tzaddikim near Yerushalayim to try to avert the decree hanging over them. After going to the mikveh that Friday, R' Yosef Chaim fainted, but he refused to break his fast before Shabbos.

Shabbos morning it was discovered that R' Avrohom Shag was suffering from a serious illness.

All Yerushalayim gathered to daven for his refuah, but the gezeiroh had been sealed in heaven. On Shabbos afternoon, Rabbeinu breathed his last.

He was eulogized the world over as unique in his generation and was buried on the heights of Har Hazeisim.

Zechuso Yogen Oleinu.


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