Living Legacy: The K’sav Sofer, upon his 150th Yortzeit
A son of his illustrious father, the Chasam Sofer, and his successor as leader of Hungarian Jewry, Rav Avrohom Shmuel Binyomin Sofer, zy”a, was niftar precisely one hundred and fifty years ago, 19 Teves.
Historians note that were it not for the greatness of his holy father, the Ksav Sofer—who was one of the most forceful leaders of his time, and presided over the Pressburger Yeshiva as it grew to unprecedented heights—his greatness would be even more renowned.
The legacy, and the talmidim and his own generations of Rabbbonim and Torah leaders that he produced, are incredible to behold.
He was born to his father, the Chasam Sofer, and his mother, Serel, the daughter of Rav Akiva Eger, on 1 Adar I, 5575 (1815), in the city of Pressuburg. When he was a young boy, he feel extremely ill, and the doctors raised their hands in despair. His holy father refused to give up, davening, and adding the name Avrohom. “I obtained for him fifty years,” the ChasamSofer exclaimed. And he would live precisely fifty years—thirty-three of them as the Rosh Yeshiva and Rov of Pressburg, following his father’s passing.
His shidduch with Rebbetzin Chava Leah, the daughter of Reb Yitzchok Weiss of Gorlice—quite a distance from Pressburg—came to be through the following series of events. Reb Yitzchok, who was a wealthy businessman, sent a letter to the Chasam Sofer regarding a shidduch for his daughter, committing to pay great sums in order to merit a talmid chochom as his son-in-law. The Chasam Sofer suggested a good bachur from the yeshiva, to which Reb Yitzchok replied that his yichus was not satisfactory to him. At that point, the Chasam Sofer suggested his own son, which Reb Yitzchok, of course, readily accepted.
They had ten children, six sons, and four daughters—each and every one of which were distinguished gedolei Torah, or married to one.
Among his scores of illustrious talmidim was Rav Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld, the Rov of the Yishuv in Yerushalayim. His writings are voluminous, and cover every area of Torah, with deep erudition and brilliance.
In the year 1872, he fell ill, and was niftar a few months later. Rav Ezriel Hildesheimer of Berlin—a great friend and philosophical brother to the K’sav Sofer—wrote an article describing the deep anguish at the levaya, felt throughout Hungary and beyond—and how thousands streamed into Pressburg to pay tribute to the great leader.
Numerous branches of his progeny continue to illuminate to this day—perhaps most notably, the Erlau Rabbonim, who are his direct descendants. The previous Erlauer Rebbe established a network of Yeshiva K’sav Sofer throughout the land of EretzYisroel. In the attached photographs we see one of these buildings, as well as a replica of the resting place of the K’savSofer.