Israels Supreme Court gives Shas rabbi a tongue lashing

In a diatribe against the court, Yosef told his disciples that the judges "should be put in a court of hell," "they are worthless," "all of the torments in the world were created because of them," and "all of the torments that Israel is suffering is solely because of these evil people."

The Movement for Quality Government accused Israeli Attorney General Elyakim Rubinstein of discrimination because he ordered investigations into some public figures for their pronouncements, while leaving others alone, including Yosef.

Still, Cheshin wrote that he could imagine Rubinstein "chewing gravel" when he made his decision not to investigate Yosef.

"Rabbi Yosef's words did not make things easy for the attorney general, but I did not find a reason, this time, to intervene in his decision," Cheshin wrote.

Nevertheless, Cheshin wrote a stinging criticism of Ovadia's attack.

"Were Rabbi Yosef to think these things about the court in private, we would not say a word…But they were said in public and were like an arrow that has been fired and cannot be returned to its quiver," he wrote.

"One has to read his words over and over again to believe they were actually spoken. We read them and therefore know they were said. But it is still hard to believe, because the words are unbelievable.

"Some people say: That is their style, the way their wise and great men talk. They also say that is the way people talk in other communities, that their language differs from ours. As for me, I find it hard to believe that this is their usual way of discourse and that this is the way the rabbis and great people talk. If, however, it really is their style and the way they talk, we, in our community, shall reject it."

Judaism's ancient teachers say that people must always speak in refined language, he continued.

"That is what my mother and father taught me. And that is what my children are teaching their children…And we also know that the words of the wise are spoken gently, because words have the power of life and death."

Supreme Court President Aharon Barak wrote that Yosef's words were "harsh and hurtful. They harm the status of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef himself and the confidence of his supporters in the court. That is not the way a scholar of the Torah and a political leader ought to express himself.

"That is not the message that a former rabbinical judge who understands the complexity of the judicial challenge should be conveying to the public."

Regardless, Barak ruled that Rubinstein's decision not to order a police investigation was not unreasonable.