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September 20 2016 08:30 | Monastero di Sant'Andrea

Speech of Avraham Itzhak Radbil

Avraham Itzhak Radbil

Rabbi, Germany

The Talmud says: „Great is peace because all of our prayers end with the word Shalom, “peace“. In  fact, it is true that all important Jewish prayers like the Amida, the main prayer, which we pray three times a day, Aaron’s blessing by which the Kohanim, the priests, bless the people and by which we bless our children every week on Sabbath and some other prayers end with the word “Shalom”.

The Talmud asks, why all prayers end with this particular word. The answer is that God was looking for a receptacle, in which he could place all blessings. This receptacle is peace. In others words, when the receptacle is broken, all other blessings like health, prosperity and others can easily flow out. Without peace, no other blessing can exist. Therefore, the blessing of peace is the most important of all blessings and stands at the end to demonstrate its importance. 

In Hebrew, the word Shalom derives from the word Schlemut. Schlemut means completeness, wholeness, because we can only achieve completeness in a state of peace. 

We teach our children these values from their earliest days so that they can internalize them as quickly as possible. This is the only way to contribute to peace in the world, when we teach the children from their earliest days that peace is the highest good and our utmost priority because without peace everything else is worthless. I see this as one to the most crucial tasks of religions. 

The Talmud says: Hillel says: Be of the disciples of Aaron, love peace and pursue it. The commentators explain the double expression, to love peace is passive. This means that you do not bad to anybody and do not look for an argument. However, the absence of war is not the ideal state of peace. Thus, it is not enough to love peace in a passive way; you have to pursue peace in an active way, to work for peace. Thus, when there was a quarrel, Aaron always tried to become active and to mediate between the parties in conflict. To reach a state of peace is not enough; we must make peace stable maintaining it by our constant and patient work. These intentions are for oneself, this means for inward peace, for the family, for the community, the religious community and finally for the whole word. 

However, the persistent prayer for peace is the foundation of all this. Once I heard a comparison considering all people long sticks. When everybody wants something different and tends into another direction, the sticks cross each other, there is friction between them and there is not enough space for no one. But when all sticks are directed upwards, all of them stand upright; there is no friction between them and enough space for everyone. This is the way we are. When everybody wants something else and pursues different aims, then we often stand in the way of each other and mutually hinder one another. But when we all pursue a common aim, we are much more effective and efficient. Our different religions are united in their faith in God. Therefore, when we all raise our eyes to the Almighty and recognize that we are all God’s creatures, we will see that there is enough space for all of us in this world and that the many different people do not disturb and hinder each other, but complement each other.  


#peaceispossible #thirstforpeace

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