Deputy Supreme Court Justice Mishael Cheshin on Thursday retired from the Supreme Court after 14 years on the bench, leaving behind many friends and admirers and more than one enemy.
With Cheshin's retirement, the court will be reduced to 11 judges, despite the legal requirement that it must have 15 member judges.
Cheshin was obviously moved by the ceremony in his honor and by the fact that he was leaving a place he so obviously loved. Time and again during his speech, he had to stop and take a sip of water in order to compose himself before reading on in his deep voice.
"I gave each job I held everything I had and felt, with love and endless devotion," he said. "In each of them, I woke up each day like a lion, happy, no, not happy, joyful about the challenges awaiting me, [ready] to weed my garden, to plant flowers in the garden I had been put in charge of, happy of heart and singing with joy - that's how I went to work each morning, full of desire to do what was right and good."
At another point, cheshin said that he was always happy when he won a case during the years he was in private practice, "but this feeling was only a shadow and an echo of the feeling I had when I wrote a good decision, a worthy decision, a decision that did good for someone, that spoke truth and did justice. This feeling of elation is hard to describe but it gives taste and color to life. It is the feeling of one who has done a good and worthy deed. The heart fills with a light that overflows."
In the ceremony, Supreme Court President Aharon Barak thanked Cheshin for his service. He noted Cheshin's sympathy and compassion for his fellow man, saying that was what drove his judicial reasoning.
Cheshin's career spanned 44 years. He spent the first 16, from 1962 to 1978 in the Justice Ministry, heading the High Court Petition section of the State Attorney's Office and later serving as Deputy Attorney-General. He spent the next 14 years in private practice, from 1978 to 1992. He was appointed to the Supreme Court during the term of Meir Shamgar as Supreme Court President and Dan Meridor as Justice Minister.
During his tenure, Cheshin was involved in many important cases. Perhaps the most memorable of which was his interruption of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's press conference in January 2003, cutting it short under the claim that Sharon was abusing the opportunity to make an election campaign.