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Final Testimony

“When I entered the legal system, my yarmulke made it necessary for me to be 150 percent in order for them to see me as 100 percent. There’s a natural antagonism toward any person who’s different who enters any system, and a chareidi Jew in the wider market needs to know that there’s nothing to fear about being different” (Photo: Shuki Lehrer)

Until his last breath, Israel’s undisputed star attorney Yaakov Weinroth — creator of cutting-edge legislation, defender of the Torah world and prime ministers as well — laughed away the Angel of Death. Plagued with cancer for the last decade, he made a valiant effort to prove he wasn’t going to give in easily. When he succumbed last week at age 71, he was practically reduced to skin and bones and could barely walk, but his piercing gaze and shrewdness made it clear to those around him that he refused to be reduced to a statistic.

“I pray that G-d should give me another day and another day,” he said recently. “I intend to use every moment that HaKadosh Baruch Hu gives me. I have no intention of sinking into misery.”

Few men possessed a more intimate knowledge of the key players in Israeli society — both religious and secular — than attorney Yaakov Weinroth. He was equally comfortable in the Torah centers of Jerusalem and Bnei Brak as in the center of political and economic power in Tel Aviv. And his name also might be familiar as the father-in-law of Chanie Weinroth a”h, a heroine whose own nine-year-long struggle with cancer was an inspiration to women all over the world.

When he opened his own firm back in 1974, he — like most young attorneys — had to chase after clients just to eke out a living. But his intellectual abilities, warm nature, and flamboyant courtroom manner quickly earned him acclaim, and the trickle of clients quickly grew into a torrent. His firm — Dr. J. Weinroth & Co. — comprised 18 diverse areas of practice, including banking, capital markets, and tax law, as well as mergers and acquisitions, real estate, and antitrust law.

But among the wider public, Dr. Weinroth was best known for his criminal law practice focused on defending high-profile clients accused of white-collar crimes, and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu had Weinroth’s legal skills to thank for having fraud and breach-of-trust charges against him dropped twice back in the 1990s. Avigdor Lieberman likewise has Yaakov Weinroth to thank for his own acquittal on breach-of-trust charges in 2013. And until his passing on October 16, Weinroth had remained staunchly at Bibi’s side during the current investigations into alleged financial improprieties.

Politics never colored Yaakov Weinroth’s client roster, though. He represented Margalit Har-Shefi, a right-wing acquaintance of Yigal Amir (who is serving a life sentence for the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin) as well as staunch anti-Zionist Arab MK Ahmad Tibi. Yet he never let these and other high-profile cases intrude on his own personal steadfast commitment to Torah study and observance, or with the chavrusas he maintained with roshei yeshivah in Gemara and mussar.

(Excerpted from Mishpacha, Issue 732

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