Boruch Dayan HaEmmes: Petira of The Erlau Rebbe, Hagaon HaRav Yochanan Sofer ZATZAL


erlauYWN regrets to inform you of the Petira of the Erlau Rebbe ZATZAL, one of the elder of the Admorim. He was 93-years-old.

The Rebbe was hospitalized during the past three weeks, and his condition took a drastic turn for the worse during the past 24 hours. Chassidim and Yidden around the world were being Mispallel for his Refuah until his Petira early Monday morning.

The Rebbe served as a member of Nesios of the Moetzes Gedolei hatorah of Agudas Yisroel in Eretz Yisroel.

The Rebbe was born in 1923 in Eger (Erlau), Hungary to his father, HaRav Moshe Sofer, and was a great-great-grandson of the Chasam Sofer.

The Rebbe survived the Holocaust and founded the Eraluer Yeshiva first in Hungary and then in Yerushalayim.

The levaya will begin at 11:30 from the Erlau Beis Medrash in the Katamon neighborhood of Yerushalayim. Kvura will be on Har Tamir. 

Photo Essay #1: The Erlau Rebbe, Hagaon HaRav Yochanan Sofer ZATZAL (Photos By JDN)

Photo Essay #2: The Erlau Rebbe, Hagaon HaRav Yochanan Sofer ZATZAL (Photos By JDN)

Photo Essay #3: The Erlau Rebbe, Hagaon HaRav Yochanan Sofer ZATZAL (Photos By JDN)

Photo Essay #4: The Erlau Rebbe, Hagaon HaRav Yochanan Sofer ZATZAL (Photos By JDN)

His father and grandfather were murdered in Auschwitz at the hands of the Nazis YM”S, and the young Yochanan survived the war and returned to Erlau to lead the survivors, who constituted barely a minyan.

In 1946, he was asked to serve as rosh yeshiva of the year-old Yeshivas Chasam Sofer, the only yeshiva in Hungary at that time, which had been established by Rav Shmuel Binyanim Frey for 30 orphaned young men in Budapest. He continued at that position for a year and a half, after which he opened a yeshiva in Erlau.

In 1947, the Rebbe re-established the yeshiva in Erlau with a small group of boys and adolescents (mostly orphans / Yesomim). He married and was appointed Rov of the fledgling Orthodox Jewish community there.

Due to the Communist grip on Hungary and oppression of Judaism there, the Rebbe assisted his students and members of his community to escape Hungary. In 1950, after the last Jew had left Erlau, the Rebbe immigrated to Israel together with his yeshiva. For a short period of time, the yeshiva merged with the Pressburg Yeshiva in Jerusalem, which was headed by HaRav Akiva Sofer (known as the Daas Sofer), a great-grandson of the Chasam Sofer. The Rebbe served there as a maggid shiur.

During this time, the Rebbe became a close disciple of the Belzer Rebbe (R’ Aharon). Although his ancestors were not Chasidic and conducted themselves as Rabbonim, not Rebbes, he was influenced by the Belzer Rebbe and the Skverer Rebbe to adopt numerous Chasidic Minhagim.

In 1953 the Rebbe founded the Erlau yeshiva and community in the Katamon neighbourhood of south-central Jerusalem, starting with the purchase of a few rooms in the building of the former Syrian Consulate on Yotam Street. The yeshiva was named “Yeshiva Gedolah of HaRav Akiva Eiger” after the father-in-law of the Chasam Sofer. Later this yeshiva expanded to the whole building, where he founded a dormitory and orphanage for Holocaust survivors and students from needy families.

In 1961, he constructed a new building in the empty lot adjacent to the yeshiva. It was named Ohel Shimon-Erlau after his grandfather, HaRav Shimon Sofer. This new campus includes a Bais Hamedrash, which serves until today as the main Bais Hamedrash and study hall for the yeshiva gedolah, a smaller study hall for the yeshiva ketana, dormitory, classrooms, library, kitchen and offices. In addition, he opened the Institute for Research of the Teachings of the Chasam Sofer. This Institute researches and deciphers handwritten documents of the Chasam Sofer, his pupils and descendants. It has brought to light and printed hundreds of sefarim and distributed them worldwide.

The Rebbe was appointed to the Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah of Agudath Israel by the Beis Yisroel when he was only 38 years of age. At the time, the protocol was amended to allow this new member, as the original protocol allowed only Rabbonim above the age of 40 to join.

He was also appointed a member of the administration of Mifal HaShas by that organization’s founder, the Klausenberger Rebbe ZATZAL.

Yehi Zichro Boruch…

(YWN World Headquarters – NYC)