AP Profiles 38-Year-Old Rav Yoshiyahu Pinto


rabbi-yoshiyahu-pintoAshdod – A few evenings every month, some of Israel’s wealthiest and most powerful people can be found in a living room in this seaside city, waiting to have a few minutes with a rabbi they see as an adviser or miracle worker.

Rav Yoshiyahu Pinto is slightly stooped. He looks older than his 38 years and speaks so softly you have to lean in to hear him. His remarkable rise in recent years has turned this living room of floral-patterned chairs and gilt sofas into an intersection of influence extending to Israel’s parliament, where a former defense minister believes the rabbi helped him emerge from a coma, and to high finance, where a real estate broker says Rav Pinto steered him away from a bad deal that would have lost him millions.

People come seeking the rabbi’s blessing or his counsel on their business deals and personal lives. Rav Pinto has no business training and did not study at university. But he has “wisdom that is unlimited,” said Israeli businessman Ilan Ben-Dov, the majority shareholder in the cell phone company Partner, who has been consulting the rabbi regularly for five years.

“He has not only his own life experience, but that of all of the generations that went before him,” Ben-Dov said. “Any attempt to describe him falls short of the reality.”

The veneration of rabbis said to have miracle powers has a long history in Judaism, existing uncomfortably alongside a deeply rooted rationalist tradition. In Israel, the phenomenon used to be identified mainly with poor Jews of Middle Eastern origin. But in recent years, it has spread to the country’s secular elite, bringing into the limelight a number of rabbis who have an aura of otherworldliness as well as PR operations sophisticated enough to make sure their otherworldliness is well known.

Rav Pinto’s star currently shines the brightest.

On a recent Thursday night – one of the several times a month Rav Pinto sees visitors here – an Associated Press reporter waiting for several hours for an audience was joined by millionaire businessmen, professional soccer players, a few seemingly ordinary people, and others.

People who do not wait in line for anything wait in line for Rav Pinto. Leaning against a wall, near the door to the rabbi’s office, was Jacky Ben-Zaken, the real-estate tycoon who told a reporter last year about Rav Pinto’s last-minute advice to abandon his planned purchase of a company.

Tzipi Livni, the opposition leader, had been here two weeks before. Billionaire Nochi Dankner, who owns Israel’s largest holding company and a daily newspaper, is a regular.

Rav Pinto is a scion of two rabbinical dynasties. On his mother’s side he is a great-grandson of the Baba Sali.

Rav Pinto began amassing followers as a young man in the Mediterranean port city of Ashdod, helped by his family heritage and reputation for uncanny insight into human behavior. Some of those followers saw him simply as an unusually wise man. Others believed his wisdom was supernatural, that his blessings had power and that he could see the future and heal the sick.

His fame slowly extended into the upper reaches of Israeli society, with the help of savvy assistants who cultivate celebrities and reporters.

The rabbi has a ministry, Shuva Israel, that funds Torah and charitable work and owns the rabbi’s house in Ashdod. It also has property in midtown Manhattan, where Rav Pinto, apparently unhindered by the fact that he speaks no English, has developed a large following and where he now spends most of his time.

The rise of wonder-rabbis among the wealthy and influential here is linked to a more general rise in religious sentiment in Israel and to New Age trends, said psychologist and sociologist Yoram Bilu of Hebrew University in Jerusalem. A visit and donation to the rabbi offers an experience Bilu termed “instant redemption,” with none of the intellectual or practical demands of the actual religion.

Bilu ties it to the uncertainties of Israeli life: “Israeli businessmen operate in a very stressful, unpredictable environment, and the whole society is in a permanent state of emergency.”

Rav Pinto stands out in part because he is more accessible to Israelis turned off by organized Judaism, said Shalom Yerushalmi, a veteran political analyst for the daily Maariv who considers himself one of the rabbi’s followers.

Rav Pinto does not press his secular adherents to observe Jewish law and rejects the mixing of religion and government, he said.

But not everything about the rabbi can be explained, said Yerushalmi: “I think he’s connected to places that we don’t even know about.”

Israeli lawmaker Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, a former defense minister, credited Pinto with helping him survive a near-fatal bout of pneumonia in March.

Rav Pinto came to his hospital room when he was comatose, said Ben-Eliezer, who is 74. “I didn’t see this, because I was almost in the next world. He sat next to me for between four and five hours, crying. Then he stood up and said to the people in the room – he’ll wake up tomorrow morning.”

And so it was.

When the rabbi showed up at an opulent wedding this month, his name was whispered among the upper-class Israelis in the hall. One man asked him about a potential investment in a 1,500-unit housing project outside Tel Aviv.

“Go for it,” said Rav Pinto.

After a long wait in Rav Pinto’s living room, an assistant hurried a reporter into the rabbi’s office, past the envious glances of supplicants left outside.

The rabbi spoke softly and seemed distracted, as if he had just arrived from another world but was pleasantly surprised to be here.

When he spoke, it was in simple-sounding Chasidic parables interspersed with astonishing streams of name-dropping that encompassed politicians, businessmen and celebrities in Israel and the U.S.

The U.S. economy, Rav Pinto predicted in an aside, “is on its way up.”

Asked why a millionaire might consult with him, Rav Pinto replied with a story.

Once there was a king whose throat was sore. His advisers told him to drink oil, but this made things worse. Doctors told him to drink vinegar. This made it even worse. Then a simple old man suggested that he should just drink water, and of course this had been the solution all along.

“People create their problems,” Pinto said. “The rabbi’s job is to explain, with love, that these problems are only small things. People think these things are great, but they are not.”

{The Washington Post/Matzav.com Newscenter}


  1. Anyone who reads Rav Pinto’s writing will see that it comes from a different world. This man is a real Kodosh Elyon!

  2. It seems to me that Rav Yoshiyahu Pinto can connect with other realms of the universe. I wish I could see him personally…
    Hope he can touch the lives of as many people, and bring the change the world needs for the coming of Moshiach.

  3. Since when did we become a nation that follows such a mehalach?
    Leave the Rav alone. He may have the powers discussed in this article, but our mesorah was NOT to ask them what our future holds.
    Tamim Tehiya!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. #9, calm down. He’s not that way. His l’shem shomaayim is very evident in his draashos and seforim. As mentioned, he’s a talmid of Rav Shmuel Ausbach

  5. PUT YOUR FAITH IN HASHENM & you will lack nothing (tehillim 34)

    JUST keep your faith in Hashem & everything will be all right rather you got a ???? or not from a rebbe. Thats the KEY to success in Judaism if you have faith in Hashem, Hashem has faith in you. (that you will do his????). Theres nothing wrong with getting Chizzuk from a rebbe or a Rosh Yeshiva & learning from their ways etc… theres also nothing wrong with getting a bracha from a rebbe BUT getting a bracha from a rebbe & depending on it AKA: coming home & telling your wife we just got a bracha that were going to have a child or be rich or our daughter is going to have a refu’ah shleima etc… is a lack of Faith in Hashem. The Chovos Halevavos says in the chapter of faith that a person cannot have faith in 2 things (AKA Hashem & a Rebbe, Rav or friend) for when he does, he loses both. (he then brings a mashal (parable) of a Rabbi who needed tapes of his speeches made to sell so he asked 2 of his members to help make them, but he knew if he would ask them together, each one would say the other one is doing it so i don’t need to do it. Instead the Rabbi brought each one in separately & asked each one & was successful.) For when you depend on 2 you lose both.

  6. We have become a fast food, disposable, generation! We run for Brachos wherever it’s popular at the moment. We have absolutly no faith whatsoever! Al tiftichu binedivem does not apply to us! Then people wonder why they don’t feel close to Hashem!