Historic Discovery! Sefer Abarbanel, The Personal Copy Used by The Chasam Sofer. First Edition, Venice 1579.
Presented here is a highly significant and important copy of the first edition of Abarbanel, a fundamental commentary on the Torah. This copy served as the personal copy of the renowned and Holy R. Moshe Sofer of Pressburg. Commonly known as the “Chasam Sofer” after his published works (“Chatham” as a Hebrew acronym to “Chiddushei Torath Moshe”), R. Moshe Sofer (1762-1839), Rabbi of Pressburg and is recognized as the leader of all Jewry until today. In addition, he raised thousands of students, many who would go on to become the leaders of Austro-Hungarian Jewry in the 19th century. Not only was R. Moshe Sofer a revered leader unto himself, his children and descendants were highly respected Torah scholars and leaders in their own right. As such, the Sofer family and extended families, such as the Ehrenfeld family, were from the most influential Rabbinical families of prewar Europe.
One such descendant was R. Shmuel Ehrenfeld (1835-1883), grandson of the Chassam Sofer (his father R. David Zvi was his son-in-law) and author of the famed novellae “Chasan Sofer”. As detailed below, this copy was in his possession and it was well known to him that his grandfather had owned it. Presumably, he inherited this book from his father or uncle, R. Avraham Shmuel Binyamin Sofer - Kesav Sofer - of whom he was a disciple as well as nephew.
This present lot features a very worn copy of the Abarbanel, first edition. The first 11 or so leaves are lacking; our copy begins on pp. 12, with a handwritten note nailed to the leaf. It is dated 11 Nissan 5553 (March 28th, 1893) and written by Yitzchak Zvi Friedman of Siksa, Hungary. In it, he details how he received this copy personally from the hands of R. Shmuel Ehrenfeld, who served as Rabbi of Siksa for a few short years. He goes on to relate how R. Shmuel assured him this copy belonged to his grandfather, the Chasam Sofer, and was used by him.
Below is a (loose) translation of the letter as written by Friedman in 1893. Please refer to the Hebrew text for an exact quote of the letter:
“For eternal memory: I received this wondrous Sefer Abarbanel on the Torah as a gift from the famous sage and great Gaon, Moreinu R. Shmuel Ehrenfeld of blessed memory, who served as Rabbi here in Siksa for a few years. He promised me that this book was personally used by the leader of all Jewry, the Holy Gaon Chasam Sofer and comes from his library… so I really enjoy this volume for three reasons: 1. The one who gifted the Sefer, 2. The purpose of the Sefer (i.e. a rare volume unto itself, being the first edition of Abarbanel), 3. The Holy mouth who learned from this Sefer. May his merit protect me… Signed, the 11th day of Nissan 5553, Yitzchak Zvi Friedman”.
Also seen on flyleaf are ownership inscriptions and stamps of R. Shmuel Weingarten of Miskolcz, Hungary, another Chasam Sofer descendant. Apparently, this volume was safeguarded amongst his descendants and was cherished as such.
This copy lacks its title page and initial 11 pp., as well as the final 10 pp. Such was the condition of the Sefer already when gifted by R. Shmuel Ehrenfeld, as evidenced by the letter placed on pp. 12 which is the opening leaf. In all probability, it was used by the Chasam Sofer in this condition as well, since the binding is heavily used and worn, typical of bindings from the Chasam Sofer era.
A wonderful, one-of-a-kind treasure owned and used by the Holy Chassam Sofer of Pressburg. Housed in a custom marbleized box.