Rabbi Moshe Sofer, the Chasam Sofer (1762-1839)

The Chasam Sofer gives an explanation for the punishment for violating the Three Oaths, based on the Midrash at the beginning of the Vayikra, which comments that Moshe, in his wisdom, knew not to come into the Mishkan before Hashem called him. From this we learn, says the Midrash, that a Torah scholar who has no wisdom is worse than an animal that died of itself.

An animal that died of itself is considered “killed by the King” whereas an animal slaughtered by human hands is considered “killed by an officer” and thus on a lower level (Shabbos 108a). Lower still is an animal that was torn apart by wild predators. One who presses for closeness to Hashem in an unauthorized way is, G-d forbid, made ownerless and vulnerable to wild predators, and thus meets an end that is worse than the animal that dies of itself. (Drashos Chasam Sofer, p. 152, Drush for Adar Sheni 7 and Vayikra 5586)

The Chasam Sofer comments on the Haftarah of Parshas Shoftim: The Jewish people have already deserved many times to be redeemed through an incomplete redemption, or – better yet – there could have been a real redemption as in the time of the Second Temple, but that is not desirable. Even if we ourselves would settle for such a redemption – just to be redeemed – our holy forefathers would not consent now to anything less than a complete redemption, in which we will see Hashem’s return to Zion with our own eyes.

On the Hagaddah, the Chasam Sofer explains that the wicked son’s sin is that he cannot stand to wait, and therefore he asks, “What is this long service to you? Why do you have to drag it out so much? It’s already time to eat.” We reply to him: “Because of this – in the merit of our waiting for the redemption and not leaving early like the tribe of Ephraim – Hashem redeemed us from Egypt. If you, the impatient son, had been there, you would not have been redeemed.”


Rabbinic Quotations