Ladies and gentlemen, I do not like to say this and I hope that by saying this I will not destroy the world view of some of you, but we live in a sick world. We live in a world full of wars, hate and violence.
It would be much too simplified to say that the healing of the world would come by prayer alone, however, prayer, the right prayer is an important step in the right direction.
The Talmud says: „Peace is great, because all our prayers end with the word Shalom, peace“. In fact, all important prayers in Judaism such as the Amida - the main prayer, which we say three times a day, Birkat Hamason - the prayer after eating, Aaron’s blessing – by which the Kohanim, the priests, bless the people and we bless our children every week on Shabbat as well as some other prayers end with the word „Shalom“.
The Talmud asks why all prayers end with this word. The answer is that G-d looks for a receptacle in which He can place all his blessings. This receptacle is peace. In other words, when this receptacle is broken, all other blessings such as health, prosperity, success and others can easily stream out. Without peace, all other blessings cannot exist. Therefore, the blessing of peace is the most important blessing of all and always comes at the end to make this clear.
The word Shalom in Hebrew originates from the word Schlemut. Schlemut means perfection, wholeness, because we can only reach perfection in a state of peace, make full use of our potential and reach our objective in this world.
These values are taught to our children from an early age so that they can internalize them as quickly as possible. This is the only way to contribute to world peace by teaching the children from an early age that peace is the highest good and our highest priority because without peace everything else is worthless. I see this as one of the most important tasks of religions.
The Talmud says: Hillel says: Be one of Aaron’s pupils, love peace and pursue peace. The commentators explain this double expression by saying that to love peace is a passive way. This means that you do no wrong to anyone and you do not argue with anyone. However, the absence of war is not an ideal state of peace. Thus, loving peace only passively is not enough. You have to pursue peace actively, to strive for peace. Therefore, in case of a quarrel, Aaron always tried to become active and to mediate between the quarreling parties. It is not enough to create a state of peace, peace must always be maintained by a lot of work. These intentions are valid for oneself, this means for inner peace, for the family, for the community, for the religions community and in the end for the whole world.
However, constant prayer is the fundamental basis of all that. All our pleas, which we express in our main prayer, the Amida, are spoken in plural. This means when we pray for health, well-being, affluence and peace, we do not only pray for ourselves but also for all others. This is an important lesson when dealing with others and for compassion. I am not only responsible for myself, but even in the moment of closest intimacy with the Almighty during prayer, while I unload my heart and ask for very personal things, I am not to forget that I am not only responsible for myself and that I have to include other people in my prayer
I once heard a comparison where all human beings were compared with long sticks. When everybody wants something else and tends into a different direction, the sticks cross and rub against each other and there is not enough space for anybody. But when all sticks are directed upwards, all stand upright and they do not rub against each other. There is enough room for everyone. This also applies to us as human beings. When everyone wants something else and pursues other targets, we are often in each other’s way and impede us. However, when everyone pursues the same target, we are much more effective and efficient. Our different religions are linked by our faith in G-d. When we all direct our eyes towards the Almighty and acknowledge that we are all G-d’s creatures, we see that there is room for all of us in this world. The many different people do not disturb each other but they complement each other.
Many complain that the presence of G-d cannot be felt in this world. But maybe the reason for that lies within us. The Midrasch tells us how G-d determined the place for his constant presence, this means the temple. A wealthy father had two sons. One of the sons married and started a family with many children; unfortunately, the other one did not have the luck to find a wife and to start a family. When the father died he left a sack filled with gold for every son as inheritance. During that night, both brothers could not sleep. One thought about how much he had been blessed with his family and many children and how badly his unmarried brother was doing. He needs the gold much more than me since he does not have a family, he could at least enjoy the gold. The other brother thought: I am alone. How much money do I really need? My brother has a big family and many expenses. He needs the gold much more than me. At the same time, both made the decision to leave the gold for the other one. When they wanted to bring the gold to the other one, they met in the middle and embraced one another.
When the Almighty saw this he said: „In this place I want to dwell. Here will be my temple. This is a place of peace”. Thus, the temple was a place of peace and of prayer for all people, as it is written: “Ki Bejti Bejt Tfila lekol Haamim“, for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.
G-d wants to dwell in a place of peace, however, it is up to us to make the world such a place!!!