Monsey Memories: Rav Yehuda Leib Pessin, zt”l.
By: Yitzy Fried
The phone rang in the Pessin home on the Lower East Side, and Mrs. Pessin was astonished to hear Rav Moshe Feinstein, zt”l, on the other end. “Know,” he told her, “that your son will be a great moreh hora’ah in Klal Yisroel.” This was when Yehuda Aryeh Leib was a young bachur... but his brilliant future was clear to the gadol hador.
Rav Pessin hailed from a family that came to the Lower East Side before the turn of the century. His grandfather was Rav Yonah Ephraim Pessin who hailed from Minsk area, and was a respected rov on the Lower East Side, being friendly with many of America’s gedolim.
He had an outsized influence on his young grandson, with whom he learned together, shaping his future in Torah.
Yehuda Aryeh Leib, naturally, went to learn in Yeshiva Rabbeinu Yaakov Yosef (RJJ) right there on the Lower East Side. He was immediately recognized as a genius, and he would spend every moment earning. He married, tbl”ch, Rebbetzin Rochel, the daughter of Rav Meir Pinsky, zt”l, a longtime rov in the sfardishe shul—and Rav Pessin acquired “shimush” observing Rav Pinsky paskening myriads of she’eilos. He received semicha from Rav Moshe Feinstein as well as his father in law.
He became the rov of Beis Meir Chevra Shas in Monsey—serving in the shul for thirty years—and it continues to exist on Smolley Drive to this day, led by his son. His hasmodah is impossible to describe. His son relates how he could easily sit—literally—for eight hours in a row, deeply engrossed in learning. “He would basically learn from four in the morning until 12:00 midnight,” says his son.
At four, he was already learning. He would deliver a daf Yomi shiur at 5:15 in the morning, and following davening he would continue to write his chidushei Torah.
Rav Pessin Zt’l was zoche to establish several generations of talmidei chachomim some of whom today are Rabbonim and maggidei Shiurim in their own right. They all speak about how Rav Pessin Zt’l led them to where they are, not by the force of his personality, but by his sterling example of hasmadah and his rigorous intellectual honesty which served to aspire them to a life of Torah and avodas Hashem.
His seforim are continuing to be published by his children. They are known by the name of Temuras Ayil.
Following an illness, Rav Pessin was niftar on Rosh Hashanah of 2007.