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Rabbi Abraham Samuel Benjamin Sofer-Schreiber

Ketav Zot Zikharon

Balshon, 1957, 348 pp

Comprehensive biography of the Eger-Sofer family and their students by Abraham Samuel Benjamin ben Moses ben Jacob Akiva Sofer-Schreiber (d. 1974). Also included is an account of the Shifschul of Vienna. At the end of the book, from pp. 305-48, are numerous pictures and photographs of rabbinic giants from this family.

The Sofer (Schreiber) rabbinical family are descendants of R. Moses Sofer (Hatam Sofer). Among them are R. Abraham Samuel Benjamin Wolf (1815-1871), oldest son of R. Moses Sofer, succeeded his father on his death in 1839 as rabbi and rosh yeshivah of Pressburg. During the 32 years he occupied this post, he continued his father's policies in all matters. He was one of the active organizers of Hungarian Orthodoxy for the Jewish Congress which took place in 1869, and subsequently carried on his activity in this sphere. Though not at first an extremist, he later joined their ranks and finally gave the religious approval of the Sofer dynasty to the schism in Hungarian Jewry. He published responsa and expositions of the Torah under the title Ketav Sofer (1873-1938).

His brother R. Simeon Sofer (1820-1883) was appointed rabbi of Mattersdorf in 1848 and in 1861 of Cracow, where he served until his death. He founded Mahzike Hadas , the Orthodox organization in Galicia, to battle the maskilim. With this end in view he strengthened relations with the Hasidic rabbis of Belz and Zanz. From 1878 he was a member of parliament in Vienna. His books on halakhah and homiletics were published under the title Mikhtav Sofer (2 vols., 1952-55). R. Simhah Bunem Sofer (1842-1906), son and successor of Abraham Wolf, continued to maintain the large yeshivah, to organize Orthodoxy, and to accentuate the differences between it and other sectors of Hungarian Jewry. For this purpose, he strengthened relations with Hasidic rabbis in Hungary. He expressed his opposition to the Mizrachi conference which took place in Pressburg in 1904. His publications are: Shevet Sofer, responsa (1909) and novellae on talmudic tractates (1938-56); and Sha'arei Simchah, on the Pentateuch (1923).

R. Simeon (1850-1944), son of Abraham Wolf, founded in 1881 the well-known yeshivah in Erlau (Hung., Eger), where he was rabbi, and taught there until the day he was taken to Auschwitz extermination camp where he perished. He had been in favor of agricultural settlement in Ere_ Israel. He published the responsa, Hitorerut Teshuvah (4 vols., 1912-34).

R. Solomon Sofer (1853-1930), son of Abraham Wolf, was a distinguished preacher and writer. He is the author of Hut ha-Meshullash (1887), biographies of famous members of the family; and edited the Iggerot Soferim (1928), containing letters of his family, the Sofers and the Egers. He served as rabbi of Beregszasz until his death. R. Akiva Sofer (1878-1959), son of Simchah Sofer, succeeded his father as rabbi and rosh yeshivah of Pressburg. In 1940 he settled in Israel where he reestablished the yeshivah of Pressburg (Jerusalem), acting as its head until his death. His publications are Da'at Sofer (1963) on Torah, and responsa (2 vols., 1965). R. Abraham Sofer (Schreiber; 1897- ), son of R. Simeon Sofer, served as rabbi in many communities in Greece and in Italy. He immigrated to Eretz Israel in 1939, settling in Jerusalem. From 1948 to 1966 he was a teacher at the Jewish Theological Seminary of New York. As a fruitful rabbinic author, his main activity was preparing the works of R. Menahem Meiri , as well as of other rishonim for publication.