Rabbi Dr. Meir Danino, Israel Spirituality, Materialism and Conflicts I am glad to bring all the congress participants, a message and the blessing from the Chief Sephardic Rabbi of Israel, Rabbi Shlomo Amar. The message is that of peace and a spiritual blessing for successful meetings and harmony to all of you. The holy Jewish wisdom tells us that: "The advantage of man over animal is none ... except the holy soul". Thus, if we want to create a human society, we must promote spiritual culture. Otherwise, we will be equal to animals if not worse. "RUAKH" is the word in Hebrew for spirit, very much like the Arabic or Kazakh languages. "RUAKH" as opposed to "GESHEM"= Materialism. Thus we interpret the old winter prayer of; "MASHIV HARUAKH UMORID HAGESHEM", as: whoever wants to bring upwards spirituality must bring materialism downwards. Because spirituality, can only exist by suppressing all forms of materialism and it will not be sustained in a vessel of materialistic nature.
Whoever expects to live the good material life of pleasure, delight and glory, will not be able to elevate into high levels of spirituality, as the two are simply contradicting in their essential aspects.
The chief Rabbi asked me to tell you very clearly that spirituality is sustained only in a poor, plain and humble person. Like the rain that comes down from heavens and goes down all the way to the lowest valleys and deep pits, but will not stay on the high mountains or the glorious hills.
The Jewish holy Talmud (Tractate Taanit, 7) tells us about the argument that took place between Caesar's daughter and the famous sage Rabbi Yehoshua Ben Hannania. When she was astonished by his wisdom she dared to ask him "how come there is such a wonderful wisdom in such a plain man, such an ugly vessel?" He just asked her in what kind of vessel they kept their wine in Caesar's palace, was it vessels of clay, as all common people, or of gold as suitable for the rich palace. After she put the wine in gold vessel and it all turned sour, he could answer her question that like old wine that is preserved only in simple clay vessels, the spiritual wisdom is sustained only in a simple humble and non materialistic person.
Giving up the materialistic pleasures of life, must be the first step for achieving spirituality. Since materialistic richness is an obvious obstacle to the spiritual way of life. Also, physical and military power is another obstacle for the achievement of spirituality in every society. Similarly, it is said in the Bible (Zakaria, 4,7) to the people of Israel returning to their homeland; "Not with armies, neither with power, but rather with my holy spirit, said G-d".
So wise was the President of Kazakhstan, his Excellency Nursultan Nazerbaev, to give up all the Nuclear weapon power. This very step gives him the right to become the center of peace, spirituality and world harmony. It is no surprise that he continued with big efforts to bring religions together in the Leaders of World and Traditional Religions Congress. And now he makes his Capital, Astana, a center for Peace, harmony and spiritual culture.
In this sense President Nazerbaev was following the footsteps of the great Patriarch Abraham, the original founder of the world traditional religions. In this weekly Torah Parasha readings, (Genesis, 14, 16-24 – Parashat Lekh-Lekha) we read that Abraham refused to take anything from the loot of the kingdom of Sodom whom he saved after they lost the war to the coalition of 4 kings. He gave all the captives as well as the property to the king of Sodom saying that he is not interested in his wealth. The end of Sodom and their king we all know. The bible tells us that immediately after this event, G-D says to Abraham in a vision (Genesis, 15, 1); "thou shall not worry Abraham, I will protect you, your reward is very high". As the reward for giving up materialism is the most precious achievement that human being can get, it is spirituality.
All nations must learn from the Patriarch, Abraham how to handle their affairs at times of war as in peaceful times, with no greedy approach. I think that if more of the world leaders will learn from his Excellency, President Nazerbaev how to avoid war and to promote peace, we will be living in a much better world. This will be a wonderful world of peace, harmony and spirituality.