Emeritus Chief Rabbi of Haifa, Israel
Very distinguished Leaders of Religions and States on the Dais August Assembly, ladies and gentlemen, my dear friends!
It is indeed a privilege and a pleasure to participate again in a meeting convened by the Community of Sant'Egidio. With your permission I would open my brief message with a traditional Jewish thanksgiving and blessing of G-d in Hebrew and in English:
ברוך אתה ה' אלקינו מלך העולם שהחיינו וקיימנו והגיענו לזמן הזה
Blessed are you, Lord and G-d, King of the universe, who has given us life, sustained us, and brought us to this day. Amen!
The subject chosen by the organizers for this congress is "Bound to live together – Religions and Cultures in Dialogue". I feel that at least we who belong to what is referred to very often as "The Abrahamic faiths" should not only feel "bound to live together". It is our destiny, challenge and duty to live together, speak to each other, agree to disagree, and realize that there is much more that binds us together than what divides us. We must remember that if we want life and survival we have to learn to live together and teach our followers and believers that the Almighty G-d wants us to choose "ways of pleasantness" and walk on "paths of peace".
That was the message of our Founder and Teacher Moses of blessed memory – may peace be upon him. He gave that legacy to the children of Israel before departing from them, before they crossed the Jordan River – "See, I have placed before you today the life and the good – I have placed life and death before you, blessing and curse and you should choose life so that you will live, you and your offspring" (Deuteronomy 30:19).
We, living in the Holy Land, know very well that the only way to survive in our beloved country is to fight hatred and promote peace, security and understanding.
We must realize that this is what G-d wants us to do. He gave this land to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and we are their children. The fact that this land is Holy to the believers of Judaism, Islam and Christianity should be a reason that we all join each other, to prevent blood-shed, hatred and animosity. The fact the holy city of Jerusalem, the seat of our King David, is holy to us Jews, to the Moslems that call it in Arabic "Al-Kutz" – "The holy" – and indeed also to all Christians, can be and should be a source of blessing and not - G-d forbid - a curse. Praying to The One G-d, the Creator of Heavens and Earth should bind us together in love and peaceful co-existence.
I believe I have already mentioned in our meetings, in the past, that it is an ancient tradition in our faith that the name of G-d is "Shalom" – and Shalom means peace. Blood-shed and terror desecrate the name of G-d that included in the "Ten Commandments" the prohibition "Thou shall not murder". Already much before that He told Noach and his children - after he blessed them - "your blood that is your soul I will demand, whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for in the "Image of G-d He made man". In the original Hebrew we read: "שופך דם האדם באדם דמו יישפך". Adam here stands for every human being, כי בצלם אלקים עשה את האדם – "In the image of G-d He made man" - man, woman, old or young.
Killing is desecrating the name of G-d. We must stop this chain of murder and killing. It is our holy mission to bring peace and security to the Holy Land, that G-d gave to our forefathers.
Dear Friends, Leaders of Faiths:
Let us teach our followers to stop this terrible crime. Let us learn to live together, respect and repeat, again and again the words of the prophet Malachi that I will quote in the original Hebrew and then in English:
"הלוא אב אחד לכולנו, הלוא אל אחד בראנו מדוע נבגד איש באחיו לחלל ברית אבותינו"?
"Have we not all one father? Has not one G-d created us? Why should we betray one another and defile the covenant of our fathers"? (Malachi 2:10)
Let us all announce this message of peace and love wherever we go. Let us pray, work and build together a much better world. Let us pray and hope for the fulfillment of the prophecy of our prophet "And they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks, nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more" (Isaiah 2:4)
So help us G-d. Amen!