One hundred and eighty years after his passing, he stands tall, a leader for eternity.
The Chasam Sofer would reshape the landscape for Torah Jewry, revealing the power and potency of a rov, the impact of a rosh yeshiva. He would provide a paradigm of leadership, fusing courage and humility, selflessness and determination, passion and generosity: and his imprint would endure.
It would spread across the region, giving the kehillos of Austro-Hungary an example, a kehilla after which they could model themselves: it was a style of rabbanus, an approach to living. He showed the blessing of a yeshiva, the value of talmidei chachamim- and also, the glory of the ordinary citizens and their role, the preciousness of their minhagim.
They longed to imbibe his light: they pleaded with his talmidim to settle among them, to lead them, to protect and defend them. His Torah- psak, drush, hashkafa- became the bedrock of their own approach to avodas Hashem.
From Pressburg, he ruled the Jewish world.
Then he passed away, and his talmidim-and their talmidim- fanned the flames ever-brighter, the presence of the Chasam Sofer seeming to hover above European Jewry for a hundred years.
And when it all collapsed, his inspiration fueled the rebuilding: we would start again, and we wouldn't compromise, wouldn't allow ourselves to believe that anything had changed.
We have an Old Father, the Chasam Sofer would say, and He does not change.
Until today, the Chasam Sofer leads us: in this book, we'll see why, and we’ll see how.
With the storyteller's gift, the author makes it feel not like a lesson, but like a story, an enjoyable read: but the experience of soaking in the stories and divrei Torah and rich history will leave you with a clear sense of what this man represented, and what it means for each one of us.
The Chasam Sofer, scribe for eternity, is still teaching us.