change language
vous êtes dans: home - l'oecum...dialogue - rencontr...tionales - antwerp ...e future newslettercontactslink

Soutenez la Communauté


"PAIX SUR TOUTES LES TERRES" : 1er janvier, une marche pour un monde qui sache accueillir et intégrer

Le premier jour de l'année nouvelle, manifestations sur tous les continents pour soutenir le message du pape François

De l'Indonésie au Salvador, de l'Allemagne au Mozambique, voici les nouvelles galeries d'images des repas de Noël de Sant'Egidio dans le monde

Des photos continuent d'affluer de tous les continents, regardez-les sur notre carte interactive!

Galerie de photos et vidéos du repas de Noël à Santa Maria in Trastevere

Visite virtuelle de la crèche de Sant'Egidio : Jésus accueilli par les pauvres, les malades, les sans logis et les hommes de toutes confessions

Sant'Egidio et la Muhammadiyah signent à Djakarta un nouvel accord pour la paix et le dialogue interreligieux

une délégation de la Communauté menée par Marco Impagliazzo se trouve en Indonésie

Sant'Egidio au conseil de sécurité de l'ONU pour un point sur la République centrafricaine

Mauro Garofalo : "Le succès de ce premier désarmement garantit la crédibilité de l'ensemble du processus en actes"

Donner à manger aux personnes âgées au Mozambique : distribuitions d'aides alimentaires aux plus pauvres dans la ville de Beira

Aidons les réfugiés rohingyas au Bangladesh

La Communauté de Sant’Egidio lance une collecte de fonds pour envoyer des aides dans les camps de réfugiés au Bangladesh, en collaboration avec l’Eglise locale

Tous les textes de la rencontre #Pathsofpeace

L'assemblée d'inauguration de la rencontre internationale Chemins de Paix

Chemins de 2017 : tout sur la rencontre internationale des religions du monde pour la paix

Le programme, les intervenants et les événements en direct streaming

Global friendship, #MoreYouthMorePeace : le message et l’engagement des Jeunes pour la paix à Barcelone

rendez-vous l’année prochaine à Rome !

version imprimable
8 Septembre 2014 16:30 | Thomas More, Campus Carolus, Room 109

Believers and Cities

Jaron Engelmayer

Grand Rabbin, Israël


The city – Place of estrangement from G-d and faith?

First of all I have to admit that my thoughts were prepared to a different title: “Believers and Cities” – but the new title is also very nice and interesting, and luckily there is a connection between what I prepared and the new title…

In exactly a month, we Jews are going to begin the Sukkot festival. For a week, we are going to leave our comfortable apartments and houses to eat in huts made of foliage almost in the open air and even, weather permitting, to sleep there. The festival is meant to give us a sense of our closeness to G-d by being especially close to Nature. Decorated with leaves, branches and fruits, the leaf hut provides a natural surrounding, in the open air, you are, so to speak, exposed to rain, cold and God’s mercy.

The Sukkot festival concludes the series of the three Jewish festivals of pilgrimage which are all agricultural in character – from sowing until harvesting. At these festivals, prayers are also held for rain and a rainy winter, although we city dwellers do not particularly appreciate rain. It therefore seems almost paradoxical that we should pray for rain in the Synagogue while hoping to get home without getting wet – especially so in Cologne where there’s even more rainfall than in London. This is so because we city dwellers do not even perceive the needs of agriculture. For us, fruit grows in the supermarket, vegetables come from the freezer. We hardly know what it feels like for farmers and all countryside inhabitants to be exposed to nature and its forces.


It reminds us of the story about two friends being shipwrecked and floating on a small boat through the deep and endless waters of the ocean. The one starts to pray: “Dear G-d, if you save us from this situation, I will donate a fifth of my fortune to good needs.” The hours pass and nothing happens, so he starts again: “Dear G-d, if you save us I will donate a third of my fortune!” Again the hours pass and nothing happens, so he continues: “Dear G-d, if you save us I will donate…” In this very moment he was interrupted by his friend: “Stop the offers immediately! I can see land on the horizon…” 

In the landscape we feel sometimes lost, delivered to the powers of nature and to G-d. The cities however spite the powers of nature and collectively resist them. This begins with solid houses which – all year long - are dry and comfortably warm but not too hot, and of course without wind and it goes on in the streets, where the night is made into day, when darkness is neutralized by electric light. We therefore need to ask ourselves: Do we actually still perceive G- d? Has He, and has faith in Him, still got any direct meaning and impact on us, or do we first have to go outside into leave shelters to experience G-d’s closeness through closeness to Nature?


The beginning of the city – the beginning of human coexistence

However, by analysing the origins of the cities, I would like to explain two reasons why cities are a place where ways to God can be found and indeed that it is by life in cities that these ways to God were taught in the first place. The Torah, the five books of Moses, talks about how the first city of all was built. Surprisingly, this already took place in a time when we can assume that hardly any humans lived on earth. In fact, the first builder of cities was Qayin / Cain, the son of the first humans, Adam and Chavah / Eve. It is said about him in the first book of Moses chapter 4 verse 17 that he was a city builder and built a city for his son Enoch/Chanokh. We may assume that at that time there were neither enough people nor a real need for a city to be built, as the Torah does not yet talk, at that point, about the existence of other people at that time than Adam, Eve, Qayin, his wife and his son. So why then did Qayin build a city of all things?

Qayin is not really very well known for building a city but much more so for killing his brother Hevel / Abel. The Torah does not describe the exact reasons why he did this, but our wise men add this information based on hints that can be read between the lines of the written text. The first manslaughter and fratricide of history, they say, took place against a backdrop of competition between two brothers. This competition already took place in their offering to G-d. From the two offerings, only Hevel’s was accepted because it was the more beautiful one, but this competition continued with the distribution of interests when the two brothers split up the world between the two of them so that the conflict between the two of them eventually led to manslaughter. There is a known Jewish curse describing this deep human characteristic problem, wishing the one who should be cursed: “May you be rich! But the only one in your whole family…”

Qayin was rebuked and punished by G-d. After his initial denial, he had to acknowledge that he had made a terrible mistake and had forever lost his brother with his own hands. According to our wise men, Qayin regretted his act, atoned and changed his ways. In Jewish faith, Changing one’s ways means desisting from one’s previous mistakes and actively perform an about-turn to a different behaviour. This has a special significance in this present month of the Jewish calendar, the month of Elul, when, before the Jewish New Year, be are especially concerned with changing our ways and repenting. For Qayin to change his ways also meant the insight that people have to be able to live with one another without seeing one another as competitors. Quite to the contrary, they are to recognize that they enrich, help and complement one another and should therefore appreciate one another. What is needed for a successful coexistence in a city is not only tolerance but appreciation of the others, and this appreciation is indeed the greatest advantage one can get from this coexistence.

These values lead to a deep insight into God. The Mishna – the oral teachings – in tractate Sanhedrin (4,5) teaches us that G-d consciously created Man from one person into very different beings which are all completely different one from another. This allows us a conclusion about G-d’s greatness. A teacher asked once in a religions class what is the task of human kind after the creation of the world. Little Moritz` answer was: “To make advertisement for it!” But in fact G-d did this not only because He alone is capable of this – in fact, He does not only want to show off with His creation J - but first and foremost because it is a trait of G-d’s greatness to allow for there to be other beings in His world. It is only from the diversity of species, the incredible number of creatures in the world of plants, animals and humans, that we can begin to really see the beauty of the world. Although G-d is one and unique, he leaves space for this diversity! The D-vine uniqueness of this world lies in its harmony and complementarity, just like the beauty of the rainbow – the symbol of the Community of Sant’Egidio – lies in the variety of colours that complement each other.



Together – in what direction? The construction of the tower of Babel

“Together we’re strong” could therefore be the motto of the city. But in this, there is also the danger of wanting to spite G-d and of thinking one is able to spite Him. This can be seen from the second passage in the Torah that talks about a city – the construction of the Tower of Babel. In fact, when the whole of humanity was a unity, they decided to take advantage from this unity and from technological progress (namely making bricks from clay) to build a city, and in its middle a tower reaching up to heaven – “to make themselves a name”. It can’t be seen clearly from the story why G-d disliked this project and considered it right to subsequently disperse humanity. Yet, the aforementioned approach gives us a hint: Due to technological progress and common achievements, mankind felt so strong, self-sufficient and independent that they felt they could rebel against G-d and deny His omnipotence. They wanted to make themselves a name of their own and no longer bear, but reject, G-d’s name.

See how History repeats itself! In fact, today, in the age of scientific discoveries and progress, we live in this spirit of our almost unlimited omnipotence. See how easy it is then to deny G-d’s existence, as we no longer depend on Him neither to understand the world nor to dominate it. The epitomes of this independence can be found in the city, just like back then, when the Tower of Babel was built.

The Torah acknowledges this attitude, but surprisingly, the antithesis it gives is not to take our distances from this process and develop backwards. If we want to be close to G-d, are not meant to and do not need to renounce civilization and live a primitive natural state. Quite to the contrary. What is missing is only the fundamental insight of recognizing a d-vine perspective in progress. Thus, the Torah warns not to succumb to pride by saying: “It was my own strength and personal power that brought me all this prosperity.” (5th Book of Moses 8, 17-18) Instead, Man is to remember that „it is G-d your Lord who gives you the power to become prosperous.“ This means that Man needs not deny that his hands have created and achieved something but he should always remember that it is from G-d that he has received the capability, the possibility and the means. It is only in this way that Man lives up to the task in this world that G-d has given him, namely to settle it and to develop it further. To say it with the words of the Prophet Isaiah: “He created it not a waste, He formed it to be inhabited.” (Isaiah 45,18)


The city as a place of faith – Jerusalem

According to Judaism, the epitome of G-d’s revelation can be found in a city, in Jerusalem. It is there that we see precisely the qualities that we have talked about. On the one hand, the different people and cultures connect here, as the Psalmist describes it (Psalm 122): „as a city that is compact together; Whither the tribes went up,… to give thanks unto the name of the LORD.“ On the other hand, we find in it a strength that has its origin directly in G-d (125): “As the mountains are round about Jerusalem, so the LORD is round about His people.“ The city is surrounded by strong walls, but it still always depends on G-d’s mercy as well as on the following insight (127): „ Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it; except the LORD keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.“ This shows us that cities are meant to bring us closer to G-d – but it is up to its inhabitants to recognize this. With this insight, having spent seven days in foliage huts, we are then to return to our houses, right into the middle of the city.



18 Octobre 2017

Un mois après la rencontre des religions à Münster, les Chemins de paix ont traversé quatre continents

Sur la photo, l'événement à Blantyre, Malawi. Voir les photos et vidéos des autres rencontres
IT | ES | DE | FR | RU
20 Octobre 2015

Des évêques du monde entier réunis à Sant’Egidio dans la prière pour la paix en Colombie et dans le monde

En ces jours où se tient à Rome le synode sur la famille, nombreux sont les évêques qui visitent la Communauté de Sant’Egidio et participent à la prière du soir. Hier soir, ils étaient nombreux à allumer les lumières de la paix
IT | ES | DE | FR | PT | RU
24 Août 2015

Les religions à Tirana 6-8 septembre avec Sant’Egidio per dire : la paix est toujours possible #peaceispossible

pour parler des vraies urgences de notre monde : environnement, inégalités sociales, résolution des conflits et recherche commune de réponses et de solutions
IT | EN | ES | DE | FR | PT | UK
20 Juillet 2016

Les religions mondiales retournent à Assise pour faire entendre la soif de paix des peuples

Présentation aujourd’hui de la rencontre internationale pour la paix qui se tiendra du 18 au 20 septembre, trente ans après la prière historique voulue par Jean-Paul II
IT | ES | DE | FR | PT | CA | NL
1 Janvier 2012

Marche pour la paix sur toutes les terres

Rome, un long cortège jusqu'à la Place Saint-Pierre. Les salutations du pape Benoît
IT | DE | FR | NL | RU
24 Octobre 2011

L'Esprit d'Assise : 25 années de prière pour la paix

IT | EN | ES | DE | FR | PT | CA | NL | RU
toutes les nouvelles connexes

13 Janvier 2018
Communiqué de Presse


Encore trop de morts en mer Méditerranée
IT | ES | DE | FR | PT | CA | NL
11 Janvier 2018 | MALAWI

Des vêtements neufs pour les enfants du Malawi

Grâce à l'accord avec la brigade financière et le ministère des affaires étrangères italien
IT | ES | DE | FR | PT | NL | HU

Des aides humanitaires en République centrafricaine tandis que les opérations de désarmement se poursuivent

IT | ES | DE | FR | PT | CA | NL

9 Janvier 2018
Torna la violenza in Casamance
9 Janvier 2018
Corriere della Sera
Andrea Riccardi. Il Papa e l’Italia: esempio positivo ma timore di «chiusure preclusioni»
8 Janvier 2018
Giovagnoli: Francesco ricorda alle nazioni i valori dell’umanità
2 Janvier 2018
Senegal: Sant’Egidio, rilasciati due membri del Mfcd, “pace più vicina in Casamance”
2 Janvier 2018
Vaticanista News
Senegal: rilasciati due membri dell’MFDC per la mediazione di S.Egidio
tous les dossiers de presse