At swearing in ceremony for new judges Peres honors Ovadia Yosef

President calls for moment of silence for the "great sage and Halachic arbiter" at ceremony for 28 new judges.

Shimon Peres with judge at ceremony 370 (photo credit: President’s Spokesman)
Shimon Peres with judge at ceremony 370
(photo credit: President’s Spokesman)
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 journey.
“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 Appeals.
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 justice.
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.
In international 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.
Every terrorist organization – “and there are many” – has its own target for destruction, said Peres.
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 ruination.
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 eradicated.”
Addressing the new judges in particular, Peres told them that they were responsible for enhancing public confidence in the justice system.
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 influence.
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 said.
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 democracy.
“Justice is not evident in every law,” she said.