Monsey Memories: Reb Leibel Weinstock, z”l
By Yitzy Fried
The name of Reb Leibel Weinstock evokes nostalgic memories associated with the Yomim Tovim and the timeless stories of Tanach within the hearts of Yiddish-speaking children of the 80’s and 90’s.
Reb Leibel was a melamed in Yeshiva Bais Dovid in the early days. His purity, his yiras Shomayim, and his avodas Hashem coupled with his passionate telling of these stories left a deep impression upon his talmidim—in the classroom, as well as those who were privileged to listen to his tapes.
Reb Leibel was an American boy, born on the Lower East Side in 1935, who nevertheless carried a chassidishe bren throughout his life. His family hailed from Belzer chassidim. His father, Reb Yisroel Tzvi, owned a bakery, and young Leibel went to learn in Yeshiva Torah Vodaath.
When he was a boy of twelve, he contracted a heart ailment, and doctors advised his parents to move with him to Florida, where the climate would be better for his health. The move came with great challenges. There were no Torah institutions during those years, and Leibel went to public school. Still, every spare moment was spent with the old Poilishe Yidden, who davened in a shtiebel there.
He was drawn to them and would listen to their stories about the Rebbes of Europe. In later years, a son of Reb Leibel found himself in Florida, where a man related that solely because of his father, he has children who are Shomrei Torah umitzvos today. “Your father influenced me and guided me toward a life of Yiddishkeit,” he said.
Returning to New York, he entered the legendary Beis Medrash Elyon in Monsey. Soon thereafter, he became a first-grade Rebbi in the newly-established Yeshiva Beis Dovid.
The current Skolya Rebbe, who learned alef-bais by Reb Leibel related, “I don’t know how many people can vividly recall their alef-bais rebbi, but I can remember the geshmak with which he taught to this very day. The furniture was not very grand, and the seforim were not as nice as what we have today. But it was the most pleasant experience imaginable.”
The same is felt by every one of his talmidim from those years. His very presence evoked and inspired yiras Shomayim.
After a number of years, his heart ailments returned, and he was unable to continue teaching. He wanted to remain active in chinuch, however, and so he purchased an old-fashioned tape recorder, and with this began his project.
He would spend many hours in the day transcribing what he would say and about an hour of recording. He began with the stories of Tanach, such as Yonah Hanovi, the Akeidah, and even recorded a number of parshiyos in Bereishis, but he was niftar before he could continue.
Reb Leibel was niftar in 1979, leaving behind a treasure of Torah stories that have delighted and inspired the hearts and minds of Jewish children for a lifetime.