Memory Lane: Rav Aaron Yehuda Weintraub, zt”l, Lisobiker Rov
An interesting phenomenon of the aftermath of WWII was the existence of world-class Ge’onim, masmidim, and talmidei Chachomim who were common around Boro Park—and other communities—who didn’t necessarily receive the recognition and the prominence of which they were deserving. They were educated in the finest Torah institutions of the prewar era—and then watched in horror as their yeshivos, their chaverim, their beloved seforim, and their entire worlds went up in smoke… and they were left to rebuild from the ashes.
Fortunately for them, it was the love of Torah that animated them. And they were content to sit over their Gemara—as though they were back home in the yeshiva in Poland.
One of these was Rav Weintraub, who was known as the Lisobiker Rov—having inherited this position from his father and grandfather (Rav Gershon Munish Weintraub, one of the most prominent Trisker chassidim) who served faithfully as the rabbonim of this Polish town near Lublin. He was a highly distinguished figure, and was among the ‘pnei’ of the flagship Gerer Shtiebel—along with a select group of similarly elite talmidei chachomim prewar Poland.
His impact upon the Boro Park landscape was outsized, and he brought his immense qualities of askonus and tremendous Torah knowledge to everything he did.
Among the Polish Ge’onim
Rav Aaron Yehuda was born in the Lisobik in the year 1905 to his father Rav Yaakov Yitzchok, the son of town’s rov, the aforementioned Rav Gershon Munish, who primed his beloved grandson for a lifetime of being steeped in Torah. He learned under his illustrious grandfather’s tutelage in his early years.
“The Mesivta” of Warsaw was a famed elite institution where the most brilliant minds of prewar Poland—including some who later made it to Boro Park—were formed and molded by great Gedolim, headed by Rav Meir Don Plotzky, known as the Kli Chemda. Here, the young Aharon Yehuda stood out for his hasmada, his extremely sharp mind, and his brilliant memory in all areas of Torah. When the Rosh Yeshiva was niftar, Aaron Yehuda represented the talmidim in being maspid him.
When his grandfather, the Lisobiker Rov, was niftar, the town summoned his grandson to assume his place—despite his youth, and his yet unmarried status. He married the daughter of Rav Avrohom Yerachmiel Bromberg, the rov of Łęczna, also near Lublin (he authored the sefer Emek Avrohom in which the greatest Gedolim of his time, including the Rogachover Ga’on wrote tremendous praises of him).
At the same time, he became mekushar to the Imrei Emes of Gur—a bond that would remain with him through the rest of his life, through the children of the Gerer Rebbe.
Rebuilding in Boro Park
Financial strain brought him to America in 1952. Although he could surely have procured a prominent Rabbinic position, he preferred to remain away from the limelight. But he invested himself into building Torah institutions, and financially supporting so many others.
He forged bonds with America’s Gedolim, such as Rav Yosef Eliyahu Henkin, and Rav Aharon and Rav Shneur Kotler, who made the shidduch for his daughter. When Rav Weintraub came to pay him shadchanus, he said “Your friendship will be my shadchanus.”
Seeing the thirst of the first generation of Gerer Chassidim who survived the war to educate their children in the ways which they knew back home, he, along with Reb Akiva Silberberg, founded Yeshiva Yagdil Torah, which has now served this community for so many decades. For twenty-five years, Rav Weintraub stood at its helm with great mesirus nefesh. He was also from the founders and patrons of the Gerer Kollel, which exists to this day.
As noted, he was revered in the Gerer Shtiebel on 49th Street, among like-minded talmidei chachomim—and beloved and respected by so many who appreciated the caliber of this giant who graced and impacted Boro Park of yesteryear.