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Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Rabbi Yoshiyahu Pinto calls bribery suspicions against him 'terrible persecution’

Rabbi Yoshiyahu Pinto wrote a letter to his followers on Tuesday, calling the possible bribery charges against him “terrible persecution” and “bloodshed that we have been made to suffer.” The rabbi is suspected of bribing Maj. Gen. Menashe Arviv, commander of the Israel Police’s Lahav 433 crime-fighting unit, considered the Israeli equivalent of the FBI.

Referring to the prohibition against accepting bribes that appears in this week’s Torah reading, Pinto wrote: “Bribery can blind an eye that is proper and wise, and turn the words of the righteous into lies and falsity.”

The letter, hinting that he has been falsely accused of bribery, was posted on Pinto’s Facebook page. It includes a direct quote from Pinto concerning “the terrible persecution and bloodshed that we have been made to suffer are not logical. 

Those involved in the case and close to it know perfectly well deep down that we asked for nothing for our own benefit or honor, and our entire purpose and goal was to increase Torah and lovingkindness, love and righteousness among human beings and revere God. 

We are confident that because of this... that evil will not come from good, ...and it is inconceivable on earth that acts of lovingkindness and charity should engender matters of sorrow and trouble, God forbid.”

Regarding the current weekly Torah reading, Pinto wrote further: “My beloved friends, you and I and all my household are going through difficult times. 

We are receiving numerous responses of solidarity and pain. Alongside the great encouragement we have received, we feel the sorrow and pain that all our friends and supporters are suffering. This period of time requires us to act wisely and with good judgment and make practical decisions. Let us think before we act and be circumspect.”

Recently, the Justice Ministry’s department for the investigation of police officers recommended that a criminal investigation be launched against Arviv on suspicion of accepting bribes from Pinto’s associates when he served as the Israel Police’s attache in the United States. 

Over the next few days, State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan is expected to decide whether to accept the department’s recommendations.

It is believed that officials of the State Prosecutor’s Office intend to charge Pinto with attempting to bribe the commander of the national fraud squad, Brig. Gen. Ephraim Bracha, in 2012 in exchange for information about an investigation against him. 

Pinto’s associates claim to possess information about high-ranking officials of the police force who customarily accepted bribes from the rabbi.

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