Thursday, December 16, 2010



The "Chatam Sofer" - Rabbi Moshe Schreiber (Hebrew: SOFER, Engl.: Writer) was born in Frankfurt /Main (Germany) in 1762. He passed away in Pressburg (today: Bratislava / Slovakia) in 1839. During his lifetime, the Chatam Sofer was one of the leading European Rabbis. Among others, he vehemently fought against the Jewish Reform Movement. He established a Yeshiva in Pressburg (there is still a "Yeshivat Pressburg" in Jerusalem's neighbourhood Givat Sha'ul).
He ruled that the Torah is never going to change and that the laws are eternal. He used this as an argument against the Reform Movement.

Parashat Vayechi

The Midrash Rabbah teaches us that when Yaakov was on his deathbed, he experienced different visions regarding the future. Yaakov wished to reveal the "end", hence, the exact date of the arrival of Meshiach and the Ge'ula (Redemption). However, suddenly, at this very moment, Yaakov lost his ability to prophesize. Why ?
Answers the Midrash: Because all the troubles of the world were now closed for him. Meaning that in the last seventeen years of his life (when he lived in Egypt reunited with his sons) he was completely happy.

The Chatam Sofer warns that prosperity in Galut (Diaspora) brings about assimilation. A very good example is given here: King Ptolemy's decree that the Torah be translated into Greek. It seemed that Bnei Yisrael's prestige would soar as a result of this document, known as the "Septuagint". In fact, the very opposite occurred: the Septuagint inspired Jews to study and adopt Greek culture.

"And the time drew near that Israel (Yaakov) must die …"
The Midrash says that we are strangers before G - d, and sojourners, as all our fathers were: our days on the earth are as a shadow (I Chron. XXIX, 15). No one can cope to escape death; all know it and affirm with their own mouths that they will die.

The Chatam Sofer commentated:
Yaakov offered his grandchildren and their descendants, eventually exiled by Sancheriv, the blessing that they will never be totally destroyed. He assured them that his name and the names of his forefathers will always be given to them. Yaakov even referred to his own life emphasizing how G - d had protected him. The name YISRAEL always connotes a triumphant people, doing Teshuva not out of fear but through a sincere desire to return to G - d. Any of these factors will produce the End of Days (Chatam Sofer).

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