The Jewish concept also recognises that true peace is part of a totality which includes justice and compassion, reflected in the idea of ‘Tikkun Olam’ – the imperative to ‘repair the world’. This concept, originally formulated by Rabbi Isaac Luria in sixteenth century Safed, northern Israel, reflects the Jewish values of Justice (tzedakah), Compassion (chesed) and Peace (shalom), and it has now come to symbolize a quest for social justice, freedom, equality, peace and the restoration of the environment. It is a call to action – to repair the world through social action. It recognizes that each act of kindness, no matter how small, helps to build a new world.
“Justice, justice shall you pursue” (Deuteronomy 16:18-21:9)
The speech delivered by Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin on the occasion of the signing of the Israeli-Palestinian Declaration of Principles at Washington, DC, on 13 September 1993 gives some indication of Jewish feelings:
“President Clinton, Your Excellencies, Ladies and gentlemen,
We have come from Jerusalem, the ancient and eternal capital of the Jewish people. We have come from an anguished and grieving land. We have come from a people, a home, a family, that has not known a single year – not a single month – in which mothers have not wept for their sons. We have come to try and put an end to the hostilities, so that our children and our children’s children will no longer have to experience the painful cost of war, violence, and terror. We have come to secure their lives, and to ease the sorrow and the painful memories of the past – to hope and pray for peace…
We, like you, are people who want to build a home, to plant a tree, to love, live side by side with you – in dignity, in empathy, as human beings, as free men. We are today giving peace a chance and again saying to you: Let us pray that a day will come when we will say, enough, farewell to arms…
We say to you today in a loud and clear voice: Enough of blood and tears. Enough…
It is customary to conclude our prayers with the word ‘Amen’. With your permission, men of peace, I shall conclude with words taken from the prayer recited by Jews daily, and I ask the entire audience to join me in saying ‘Amen’:
‘May He who makes peace in His high heavens grant peace to us and to all Israel. Amen.’”
© Josie Lacey 2006.