Moses Sofer

Austro-Hungarian rabbi who fought against the influence of Reform.

Moses Schreiber, also known as Moses Sofer and the Chassam Sofer, was an Austro-Hungarian rabbi who was born in 1763 and died in 1839.

Schreiber rose to prominence at age 13, when he began delivering public lectures in Frankfurt and was invited by Frankfurt’s chief rabbi, Phinehas Horowitz, to study with him. Soon after, Schreiber left for the yeshiva of Rabbi Tebele Scheuer in the neighboring city of Mayence.

In Mayence, Schreiber received his rabbinic ordination and studied astronomy, astrology, geometry and general history, along with Bible and Talmud. In 1782, Schreiber moved to Boskowitz and then Prossnitz, where he married Sarah, the widowed daughter of Rabbi Moses Jerwitz, and became head of the local yeshiva. In 1798, he became rabbi of Mattersdorf, Hungary, where he established a yeshiva. In 1803, he relocated to Pressburg, now Bratislava, where he established a large yeshiva, many of whose students would go on to become famous in their own right. The Pressburg Yeshiva continued operations until the outbreak of World War I.

Soon after the Reform movement’s founding in Hamburg, in 1819, Schreiber declared war on the reformers, attacking them in his speeches and writings. He also fought the founders of the Reformschule in Pressburg, which was established in 1827.

Schreiber was known for his simple and accessible lectures, his close relationships with his pupils and his preaching skills. He produced about 100 volumes of Jewish scholarship, including biblical commentaries, opinions on many Talmudical treatises and a collection of responsa.

Adapted from The Jewish Encyclopedia

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