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8 Kislev 5773 - November 22, 2012 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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The Shevet Sofer HaGaon Reb Simcha Bunim Sofer, zt"l, of Pressburg

In honor of his yahrtzeit, 15th Kislev

Before he was twenty years old, the accomplishments attributed to R' Simcha Bunim Sofer were widely acclaimed.

"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 understood."

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 more.


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 this opportunity.

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 mekayem.


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 dismissed.

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 gentile widow.

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 slaughterhouse.

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 tikkun."


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