Lexington Ave. in central Manhattan changed yesterday. Thousands from around the world marched to 58th street, where the big Shuva Israel study hall led by Rabbi Yoshiyahu Pinto stands high.
In the study hall, Rabbi Pinto held his Purim feast, which brought together all of the distinguished members of Manhattan's Jewish community, politicians, legislators, businessmen, and billionaires from around the US and the world, and thousands of students who came to be blessed on Purim.
Next to Rabbi Pinto sat his son and successor, Rabbi Yoel Pinto, who was especially admired by the crowd of thousands who kept singing "If a Jew knew who Rabbi Yoel is, he would rejoice and dance for 120 years", the song which was originally composed by Adi Ran and has become a hit in Shuva Israel.
Despite his young age, Rabbi Yoel is renowned for his brilliance and knowledge of all areas of the Torah. The depth of his Torah classes is inspiring, and rabbis from around the world ask for his advice and guidance.
One of the emotional moments of the event was when Rabbi Pinto blessed his two youngest children, Rabbi Meir Eliyahu and Yehudit Simcha. There was no dry eye among the participants, and the singing reached the heavens.
Hundreds of different bottles sat on Rabbi Pinto's table, wine, whiskey, tequila, and more, and the rabbi encouraged his followers to fulfill the day's mitzvah - to drink, rejoice, and give thanks for the miracle that G-d did for the Jews during the time of Queen Esther and Mordechai the Righteous.
In addition, Rabbi Pinto called on his followers to thank G-d for his kindness today: "We all have to be thankful for every breath we take. If for one moment G-d doesn't grant us life, we'd fall like dust. He runs the world, and he will do everything for us to have it good," said Rabbi Pinto and added, "Whoever stays with Shuva Israel, Torah classes, the weekly reading of the Book of Deuteronomy and the book of Zohar, and all the other Mitzvot will be saved from all trouble and hardships and will get to see the Messiah."
The incredible singing at Rabbi Pinto's Purim feast kept going for hours. The band and singers played and sang, and the rabbi encouraged those present to rejoice and dance.
"I haven't seen such a sight in years," said Pastor Gilford Monrose, an advisor to the New York City Mayor, who came to Rabbi Pinto's Purim feast to the mayor, "Rabbi Pinto is the light that manages to bring unity between sectors and congregations, and the joy at the Purim feast was exciting, happy, and strengthening".
This evening, Rabbi Pinto is expected to land in Vienna, Austria, where he will give a Torah class and open a new study hall that joins dozens of Shuva Israel study halls around the world.
This article was written in cooperation with Shuva Israel