Shalom to you all!
First of all, I want to thank the community of Sant Egidio in Rome for organizing this conference for the sake of peace in the world. It gives me great pleasure and honor to address you today.
Very often, analysts focus on the role of religion as a factor or even cause for animosity between various religious groups within a country. Or religions are even blamed for causing conflicts between nations at large.
Alongside that it is important to acknowledge the potential positive role of religion in peace building through inter-faith dialogue and other religiously-motivated movements. It was found that countries that had higher membership of religious groups tended to be slightly more peaceful.
Religion can be the motivator or catalyst for bringing about peace through ending conflict as well as helping to build strong social cohesion. Furthermore, religion can act as a form of social cohesion and, like membership of other groups, greater involvement in society can strengthen the bonds between citizens strengthening the bonds of peace.
But if we focus on world peace the first consideration should be to try and understand other religions and adopt an approach of respect. But before that we as religious leaders should instill faith in the creator of the world. In the term faith I mean the Jewish definition which is complete faith in divine providence. All that happens in the world is prescribed by the creator.
If there was faith in the world, all wars would be canceled because every nation would be satisfied with its own and accept its lot from the Creator with love.
That is why the prophecy of the final redemption in Isaiah is:
And they will beat their swords into plowshares… Nation will not bear against nation the sword and they will learn war no more
The word Shalom = Peace in Hebrew, does not mean literally peace but rather Shalem Whole, Perfect. It is one of the creator's names. This perfection means also a life without conflict with the other, peace that perpetuates harmony but harmony not only with one another but also between one and oneself, as with the creator and then also with other humans and nations.
The first step to world peace and harmony is that each individual person should try to fulfill the will of the Creator and to base his life on the closeness to the creator.
The next step to peace is recognizing our fellow human beings and greeting them. In Hebrew we greet each other with: shalom As our sages teach us: always be the first to greet every human being הוי מקדים שלום לכל אדם
. Then we beg for Shalom in all our daily prayers and here it refers to harmony on all fronts.
The root of shalom is also שלוה Shalva: Tranquility and serenity which can only reign when there is peace and harmony.
All these lofty utopian ideas can only begin to materialize if each individual begins with working on him self – so I think the way to do that is to accept all that happens in our own lives as the creator's will and therefore we will be able to minimize anger, disappointment and depression. People who live their life in this mindset of peace, wholeness and tranquility will inspire others to follow this way of life, even if they belong to other religious groups.
One amazing method of bringing harmony and peace to the world was the creator's commandment to sanctify the Shabbat. Our two younger sister religions adopted the Shabbat as well [although they moved it to Sunday or Friday].
To use every 7th day of our lives to rest from worldly physical maters from the material race, and dedicate it to building our spiritual world can only do wonders and increase peace in the world. It is that once a week time to reconnect and get closer to our creator, to our family and our community.
But as I mentioned before the right pathway towards world peace begins with each and every individual that introduces into his daily life the perfect faith in the creator that nothing happens without his will as our sages teach us: "a person doesn't even nock his finger if the creator didn’t decree it first". And if an entire people hood lives by this faith obviously they will turn into a peace loving people eliminating animosity to other humans and very far from waging war.
Let us pray together to the creator:
Please help us instill the perfect faith in your divine providence in every aspect of your world and all that happens to us personally. Amen!