Over the past few days, many prayers have been said in Shuva Yisrael's study halls across Israel and around the world, as Rabbi Yoshiyahu Pinto's students prayed for their teacher's health.
Rabbi Pinto is the head of the rabbinical court chiefs in Morocco.
In recent weeks, he has felt a great weakness, and his health has deteriorated. Several months ago, Rabbi Pinto underwent intensive medical tests in the US, and now he is forced to travel once again to the US, for a series of tests and treatments.
In an unusual letter to his students, Rabbi Pinto discussed his health situation, writing: "And here, we know in our souls, that over all of the past few years, we have been living and functioning in the merit of the Book of Deuteronomy and the teachings and instructions for conduct. And a king's glory is before the masses, and many good people are careful about each teaching and each instruction."
"And we know absolutely clearly and beyond any estimation, we know, that the power of the teachings and the instructions of Shuva Yisrael makes noise in Heaven, and this noise is a great noise, and about the holy congregation it is said, 'Blessed is He who sanctifies His Name in public.'"
Rabbi Pinto then detailed his suffering: "And here, we have been through years of illnesses, in the throat, and head, and stomach, and beyond the stomach. And it has been years that due to sins we have not fasted other than on Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement), and barely; and we do not lay tefillin (phylacteries) due to issues of bodily cleanliness, and so we drag on from day to day, from week to week, from month to month, and 'were it not for your Torah, my delight, then I would be lost in my poverty.'"
"Before the plague, the doctors operated in the area of the gallbladder, and removed from there two kilograms of growth, and more was left near the pancreas. And we thought, 'and space you shall leave between one herd and between another herd,' to wait some time and continue with an operation or treatments. And came the plague and everything was stopped, and so we accepted on ourselves to cope with everything with love and joy, and so over the entire past year, there have been ups and downs."
"About a month ago," Rabbi Pinto continued, "when we were in New York doing tests, and in the CT that we did they found that the thing grew and we must treat it quickly. We thought to wait 'until the rage passes,' 'between the straits' (a reference to the three weeks between the fast of the 17 of Tamuz, and the fast of the ninth of Av - ed.), and the best is to get through the harshest month. But in recent days, we are suffering bitter and harsh tribulations, and we ask every person in the community to pray with mercy for us. We have more spiritual commitments, which we took on when we were in emotional prison, which we committed to carrying out. Let them ask for mercy on us, from the One Who is merciful, that we may become stronger and be healed, and that we may pass this period with great mercy."
"With G-d's help, in the coming days we will become stronger and attempt to fly to New York and hear the doctors' advice, is it possible to delay until after the holidays, or immediately undergo an operation and treatments.
"We ask everyone in the community: Do not waste time, even one second, which could be used for Torah study, and sanctify G-d's Name. Spread the teachings and the path of Shuva Yisrael in every place. This is the light of the generation and this is the Torah which they will yet rely on, until the coming of Moshiach (the Messiah)."
Rabbi Pinto also mentioned the classes given by his son, Rabbi Yoel, who follows in his footsteps, asking his students to be careful to attend his son's classes: "And with G-d's help, be careful regarding the teachings of my beloved firstborn son, the rabbi and holy, righteous, man Rabbi Yoel Moshe, whose entire being is pure and clean, finely sifted flour; he is our pride from all our efforts."
"In G-d's Name we will do and we will succeed. These days are 'a time of trouble for Jacob' with regards to our health, and by means of all of our prayer and supplication to the Creator of the 'orld and the One Who is merciful, we will see salvation very soon," he concluded.
In recent months, despite his weakness and his deteriorated health situation, Rabbi Pinto has worked to expand and advance the kashrut (relating to kosher - ed.) supervision system in Morocco. This is due to the requests by local government to prepare the ground for the arrival of thousands of Israeli tourists, following the launch of direct flights from Israel to Morocco.
The Jewish community in Morocco, led by Rabbi Pinto, has launched and developed a Jewish kosher supervision industry, with the aid and full backing of the Moroccan government and kingdom.
In the past month alone, dozens of yeshiva students, both single and married, arrived in Morocco in order to found another branch of Shuva Yisrael, this time in the city of Marrakesh. The yeshiva students will work tirelessly to strengthen the kashrut system in the country, with the goal of providing for the needs of the thousands of Jewish tourists expected to arrive in Morocco, and especially in the tourist city of Marrakesh.