Rivlin: Peres’ passing marks ‘end of an era of giants’

“Even when we did not agree with you, we wanted to believe that perhaps you were right,” President Reuven Rivlin said at the funeral of his predecessor, whom he referred to as an “older brother.”

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin eulogized his predecessor, Shimon Peres, Friday morning at the funeral on Mount Herzl in Jerusalem, attended by dozens of world leaders and thousands of mourners.

In a moving  address rich with biblical and Zionist cultural references, Rivlin began with a quote by Shaul Tchernichovsky, one of the greatest Hebrew poets of the pre-state era, epitomizing Peres’ qualities as an idealist and a dreamer: “Laugh and play with my dreams, I am the dreamer who wanders. Play because in man I will believe, and I still believe in you.”

“I am speaking to you today for the final time Shimon, as one President to another, as you would say each time you called to offer strength and good advice. As I speak, my eyes search for you, our dear brother, our older brother, and you are not there,” Rivlin said. “Today you are gathered to your forefathers in the land which you loved so, but your dreams remain, and your beliefs uninterred…

“The ‘Brave Son’ was the pseudonym you chose as a youth, as the name of Isaiah the Prophet, a visionary. Yet, you were not only a man of vision, you were a man of deeds,” the president continued.

“Like you, I was also born into the Zionist Movement in those decisive years between vision and fulfillment. I was fortunate to look up to you as a partner in the building of the State of Israel from its very foundations. For both of us, the State of Israel could never be taken for granted. However, with much thanks to you Shimon, for our sons and daughters, for our friends – and yes for our opponents – the State of Israel is an indisputable fact.”

Peres was the only person in the history of the State of Israel to serve in the three most senior positions in government – foreign minister, defense minister, and finance minister. – and the only one to have served as prime minister and as president, Rivlin noted.

“It is no exaggeration to say that: more than you were blessed to be President of this great nation, this nation was blessed to have you as its president,” he said. “In all these roles you were our head, but even more so, my dear friend, you were our heart; a heart that loved the people, the land, and the State. A heart which loved each and every person, a heart which cared for them.”

Peres’ ‘stubborn faith in mankind’

The Israeli president also spoke of Peres’ “eternal fountain of youth,” his “stubborn faith in mankind and the good of people,” and his deep knowledge of history coupled with idealism to build a better future.

“Even when we did not agree with you, we wanted to believe that perhaps you were right. Believe me, it was not easy to refuse your optimism, and at times your innocence,” Rivlin said of the deceased, who incessantly strove to build bridges of peace between Jews and Arabs.

Just days before Rosh Hashana, a time for Jews to repent and to seek forgiveness from their fellow human beings, Rivlin said:

“Shimon, I unashamedly confess, on the eve of the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashana, at your graveside among the graves of the leaders of our nation, also your forgiveness must be asked. We will ask your forgiveness. It was permitted to disagree with you. Your opponents had a duty to express their opinion. However, there were years in which red lines were crossed between ideological disputes and words and deeds which had no place. You always acted according to what you believed with all you heart was best for the people, whom you served.”

Peres’ death, Rivlin stated, “is a great personal and national loss, as it is also the end of an era, the end of the era of giants whose lives’ stories are the stories of the Zionist movement and the State of Israel.”

By: World Israel News Staff