At the swearing-in ceremony of 28 new judges and court registrars, President
Shimon Peres asked all present to stand in a moment of silence in respect for
the passing of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef.
Peres called Yosef “a great sage and
halachic arbiter of our generation who has left his imprint on the life of the
Jewish people and the State of Israel.”
In a voice heavy with emotion,
and almost breaking as he spoke, Peres said that many eulogies had been
delivered the previous day, but the most moving of them all was the eulogy of
the nation, with people from all strata of society and all parts of the country
coming in their multitudes to Jerusalem to escort Yosef on his final
“No one organized them.
No one ordered them to come. It
was surprising and compelling,” said Peres, observing that this was perhaps the
best way to do justice to the deceased.
Defending some of Yosef’s
controversial edicts, Peres said that essentially he represented national unity
and personally did not differentiate between Ashkenazim and Sephardim, but
wanted to overcome the discrimination and injustice to which the Sephardi
community had been subjected for so long.
Supreme Court President Asher
Grunis also referred to Yosef at the outset of his address. Among Yosef’s many
public roles, said Grunis, he was a member of the Great Rabbinical Court of
In their separate addresses Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and
National Labor Court president Nili Arad likewise included remarks about Yosef
and messages of condolence to his family.
Peres, Grunis, Livni and Arad,
each in his or her own manner, placed great emphasis on the importance of
Peres, who related his recent experience at the International
Court of Justice in The Hague, said that in today’s world there are no longer
two sides to a dispute.
“Everything is so complicated and multisided,
hidden behind masks and full of contradictions, he said.
law, it’s not just a matter of dealing with two countries that are at odds with
each other, but also with terror groups, he added.
organization – “and there are many” – has its own target for destruction, said
The terrorist groups don’t have a common structure and they don’t
have a common goal other than to destroy, he said. “They are lawless and full of
They don’t respect the laws of their country and they don’t
respect international law.
“The place in which to seek justice is not a
place in which justice can be found, but a place in which justice has been
Addressing the new judges in particular, Peres told them
that they were responsible for enhancing public confidence in the justice
Grunis reminded them that in making their declarations (there is
no oath of office in Israel), they had taken upon themselves a sense of mission
to uphold unique rules of ethics which demand that they act with integrity and
fairness and judge all people equally and without succumbing to undue
The latter was a pointed reference to the media, which he said
can unfairly influence judgment.
Grunis warned the judges that they would
have a heavy workload and asked them to speed up their hearings and decisions.
Reforms were being implemented to shorten the life span of each case, he
He also urged the judges to remember that the law does not exist in
an ivory tower.
He advised them to listen carefully to the public but to
judge each case on its own merits.
Livni put the emphasis on democracy,
saying that the court can determine whether a law is in line with the values of
“Justice is not evident in every law,” she said.
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