Amongst the regal names of the Lord in Jewish tradition is peace, as is said in the book of Judges (6:24): "Then Gideon built an altar there to the LORD and named it The LORD is Peace". This represents the normous importance of peace in Biblical tradition, because we are required to emulate the Lord. Hence, it is said in the book of Psalms (122:8): "For my brethren and companions' sakes, I will now say, Peace be within thee"; and in the book of Proverbs (3:17): "Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace". The Talmud, second only to the Bible as a sacred and authoritative work in Jewish tradition, said (Tractate Berachot 64a): "The disciples of the wise increase peace in the world, as it is said in the book of Isaiah (54:13) - "And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord, and great shall be the peace of thy children".
Therefore, searching and pursuing peace is one of the most important obligations in Biblical-Jewish tradition, as is said in Psalms (34:14): "Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it"; and one of the most distinguished Jewish Sages at all times, Hillel, said (Mishnah Avot 1:12): "Be of the disciples of Aharon, the first High Priest, loving peace and pursuing peace, loving the creatures and bringing them closer to Torah"' and another most distinguished Sage, Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel said (Mishnah Avot 1:18): "On three things the world stands - onjudgment, on truth, and on peace".
Indeed, one of the greatest blessings that the Lord bestows upon us is the blessing of and for peace, as is said in the book of Leviticus (26:6): "And I will give peace in the land, and ye shall lie down, and none shall make you afraid"; and in the book of Numbers (6:26): "The LORD lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace".
Following the Biblical statements of the utmost importance of searching and pursuing peace, we Jews pray constantly and diligently for peace. Hence, we conclude our most important part of prayer three times a day as follows: "Grant peace, goodness and blessing, grace, loving-kindness and compassion to us and all Israel Your people, bless us, our Father with ... peace ... May it be good in Your eyes to bless Your people Israel at every time, in every hour, with Your peace. Blessed are you, Lord, who blesses His people Israel with peace". We also conclude the entire morning prayers with the verse of Psalms (29:11): "The LORD will give strength unto His people; the LORD will bless His people with peace". Hence, the take-home message after every set of prayers throughout the day is to cherish and seek peace in all our endeavors - with family, with friends, with community, within the nation and most importantly with the whole world.
These life-cycles of every human being is clearly and strongly pronounced in the Bible and the Talmud: the peace, love and honor between husband and wife, between parents and children, is a firm obligation, not merely an ethical and moral recommendation; so is the peace, love and respect to every fellow-man absolutely required. There is no alternative to peace for national and international existence.
Unfortunately, we are currently witnessing outrageous atrocities done by a minority of fundamentalists who pretend to act in the name of the Lord. There can be no greater violation of the Lord's words! Disagreements and controversies can and should be legitimately debated and contested, but only in peaceful ways. Killing because of disagreements is the gravest sin, and no G-d-fearing person in the world can justify it.
Blessed is the Community of Sant'Egidio for its persistence in gathering representatives of all religions from all over the world to discuss and promote the notion of peace in the world. I view bringing peace to the world as one of the most important tasks for religious leaders.
Let me conclude with the prophetic words of Isaiah (52:7): "How pleasant are the footsteps of the herald upon the mountains announcing peace, heralding good tidings, announcing salvation, saying unto Zion Your Lord has reigned".