A Most Opportune Time

The residents of Pressburg were well aware that each year, after Minchah on Erev Yom Kippur, a great sense of great awe overcame all those who were in the presence of their saintly Rebbe, the Chasam Sofer, zy”a.

Harav Moshe Tovia Lehman, zt”l, the son-in-law of the Chasam Sofer, related that on the Erev Yom Kippur following his engagement, he made his way to the home of the Chasam Sofer to receive a brachah from his father-in-law to be. When he entered the Chasam Sofer’s room, he saw something that made him turn around, close the door behind him and faint away.

After the members of the household revived him, the Chasam Sofer — who apparently had heard the commotion — opened the door and asked him, “Did you see something?”

“I was frightened, I saw a fire,” Harav Moshe Tovia replied.

“I had a visit,” the Chasam Sofer explained. “Eliyahu HaNavi was here.”

So when Avrohom Tzvi Wieder, then a bachur studying in the Pressburg yeshivah, was informed that he was being summoned by the Chasam Sofer, he grew very frightened. Shaking with trepidation, he opened the door, and saw the Chasam Sofer walking back and forth, his countenance exhibiting a great pachad.

Suddenly the Chasam Sofer noticed him.

“You are here?” he asked.

“Yes, the Rebbe called for me,” the bachur responded.

“I want that you should agree to what I am asking of you,” the Chasam Sofer said.

“If possible, of course I will agree,” Avrohom Tzvi said.

“There is an orphan girl here [in Pressburg],” the Chasam Sofer revealed. “There is no one who is worrying about marrying her off. I want you to marry her.”

Taken aback by the request, the bachur gathered his courage and respectfully asked the Chasam Sofer how — in the absence of a dowry or any other means of financial assistance — they would be able to support themselves.

“I assure you that you will not have any worries about parnassah,” the Chasam Sofer told him.

“I agree to the shidduch,” the bachur said.

The Chasam Sofer’s face lit up with happiness.

“This mitzvah I will take with me to the Yom Hadin!” the Chasam Sofer joyfully said. He then proceeded to summon his daughter and asked her to immediately go to the home of the orphaned girl.

“Tell her that, iy”H, after Yom Kippur she will become a kallah. I have a good shidduch for her.”

Noting the late hour, his daughter asked, “Papa, [should I go] now?”

“I need this zechus; I want to take it with me to the beis medrash!” the Chasam Sofer replied.

If the Chasam Sofer, who was on such a lofty level that he merited a visit by Eliyahu HaNavi, still felt that he “needed” the zechus of gladdening the heart of a yesomah so that he could take the zechus with him to shul — what can we possibly say?

Harav Yisrael Salanter, zt”l, was seen sitting down to write something on Erev Yom Kippur after Minchah. Observers assumed it was divrei Torah. But they soon learned that it wasn’t. It was a letter to America, asking for assistance for an almanah. Harav Yisrael Salanter knew that it was impossible for this letter to arrive at its destination before Yom Kippur — or even Sukkos, for that matter. But he said that this was the best time to write it.

Chazal (Kesubos 67b) tell us that the Amora Mar Ukva would send 400 zuz to a poor neighbor every Erev Yom Kippur. One year, he sent it with his son who came back with the money, saying that this neighbor didn’t need the money after all, as he had witnessed how the members of his household were spraying aged wine in order to give a pleasant aroma to the room, in the manner of well-to-do people.

Mar Ukva, however, interpreted this piece of information as an indication that the needs of this poor person were actually more than he had originally assumed, and so he doubled the amount and sent it once again with his son.


As we approach Yom Kippur 5775, this is a most opportune time to emulate these spiritual giants. This is certainly a time to write checks on behalf of needy individuals and worthy organizations — even if those checks won’t reach their destinations before Yom Tov. It is when we should pick up the phone to try to ensure that everyone we know has where to eat this upcoming Yom Tov.

This is also a most opportune period of time to try to think of shidduchim for the many single individuals in our community. It is when we must do all we can to make sure that financial constraints should never be an impediment for a shidduch.

It is when we should call all those whom we know to be struggling in their personal lives and let them know that they aren’t alone, that we are thinking of them and eager to be of assistance to the best of our abilities.

In the merit of the myriads acts of chessed being performed by Klal Yisrael, may we all be sealed with a gmar chasimah tovah and a year of redemption and salvation. n