Rabbi Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld – The Rosh Av Beit Din of Jerusalem

The gaon Rabbi Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld Zatzal was born to the tzaddik Rabbi Avraham Shlomo in the Slovakian town of Worboy in 5609. At the age of four he lost his father, and starting from the age of eight he began to demonstrate exceptional abilities in the holy Torah. He went to study in the yeshiva of the gaon Rabbi Tzvi Manheim Zatzal, and at the age of 13 he was given Smicha and received the title of Moreinu (“our teacher”). He also learned Torah from the gaon Rabbi Avraham Shemuel Sofer Zatzal, the author of Ketav Sofer, and the gaon Rabbi Avraham Shag Zatzal, the Rav and Av Beit Din of Kobelsdorf. Rabbi Yosef Chaim’s reputation quickly began to spread, and when his teacher Rabbi Avraham Shag left for Eretz Israel, he accompanied him there and was treasured by all the Torah greats of Israel. Rabbi Yosef Chaim aided his teacher in strengthening Jewish observance in Israel, and with his help the districts of Mea Shearim, Beit Israel, and Beit Ungarin were built in Jerusalem. Rabbi Yosef Chaim was also among the founders of the great Diskin orphanage, and later he was unanimously appointed as the Rosh Av Beit Din of Jerusalem. He was effective in vigorously and boldly working for the holiness of Jerusalem, and he was also active in Jewish institutions connected to the government. His humility was legendary, and in his will he stated that his casket was not to be brought into his Beit Midrash. Rather, people should only say of him: “We mourn an old Jew of Eretz Israel who has passed away.” Rabbi Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld’s soul ascended to Heaven on Adar 19, 5692, and his body was laid to rest on the Mount of Olives as all the inhabitants of Jerusalem mourned his passing. May the memory of the tzaddik be blessed.




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