Swords into Plowshares

pray

source: from an informational leaflet available at the Western Wall, wonder how many folks actually read it.

The Western Wall of the Temple Mount is open to all people from every nation, culture and race. This is where people from around the world come to pray to contemplate, and to wedge notes, requests and pleas between its timeless stones. Indeed, this is its purpose, for the Temple Mount is not just a holy site; it is the place where heaven and earth embrace, and where all of humanity may also embrace, finding peace, harmony and divine beauty in their diversity.

He will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore. Isaiah 2:4

A Place for All

Also to the stranger that is not of Your people Israel, but comes out of a far country for Your names sake; harken … and do according to all that the stranger calls to You; that all people of the earth may know Your name, to be in awe of You as are Your people Israel… Solomon’s prayer upon inaugurating the Temple (1 Kings 8:41)

The Western Wall is a remnant of the wall surrounding the Second Holy Temple that stood upon the Temple Mount for approximately 500 years, until its destruction almost two millennia ago. That Temple replaced the First Temple which was built by King Solomon approximately 3,000 years ago. Wherever Jews might be in the world, they face this site in all their prayers. It is the heart and essence of the Jewish nation throughout time.

The Bible calls this place, Mount Moriah Abraham called it, the mountain where G-d is seen.” According to ancient Jewish tradition, the Temple was built upon the ground where:

  • G-d began the formation of the material world in the six days of creation, and the first human being was formed.
  • Noah made his first offerings after the Great Flood and received G-d’s promise never to destroy the earth again.
  • The patriarch Jacob saw a ladder in his dream connecting heaven and earth.

And so, the Temple Mount has a message for humankind: one of harmony and stability.

A Gift from Beyond

According to Jewish tradition, the Temple Mount is the site of the Foundation Stone from which G-d formed the world and formed humankind. Unlike all other creatures, the human was endowed with the capacity to overcome its own instincts. Humankind alone has the power to destroy itself and its entire world, or to cultivate that world as a master gardener.

For this reason, the Creator saw fit to command humans how they should live and how they must not, establishing for them expectations and responsibilities. According to an ancient Jewish tradition, Adam was given six commandments. Generations later, when humanity was permitted to slaughter animals for consumption, a seventh commandment was added to Noah. Each of these commandments has many ramifications.. Together, they form the basis upon which humanity can build a peaceful, sustainable world.

The significance of these seven commandments is that they are not the product of human reason.

This is important because had humans created them, we would have changed them over time, making adjustments as our way of life changed. But these commandments come from the one Creator of all humankind, who knows His creatures from the inside out and for whom past, present and future all exist at once.

In conclusion, G-d was saying to our primal fathers and mothers, “Take care of my beautiful world and of the life I placed within it. Follow these rules, work together as one, and life on earth shall be great.”

Why We Need This Now

Today, in a way never before imaginable, humanity has become much like a single living organism stretched over a vast but delicate globe. A disaster on one side of the planet shakes all of us, while a boon to one economy benefits us all. If one country pollutes its air, we all suffer. And if another produces useful knowledge, we all share in its bounty. Our technology, international trade and our need to communicate with one another have forged us together.

Yet we are human beings, each an entire world. We have families, communities, societies and cultures. We need these names, these identities, these boundaries, for without them there is no beauty no diversity. And without diversity nothing survives. Our Creator made us each unique, and He rejoices in those differences.

That is why Jews are not interested in making the whole world Jewish, but rather, in creating a symphony of diverse parts, all harmonized to express the magnificence of the Creator in this wondrous world He has made. The Commandments of Noah allow for t that, providing a simple basis upon which many diverse cultures can thrive.

The Seven Commandments of Noah are the commandments from which many teachings and wisdoms develop, including the practice of charity and acts of kindness, respecting parents, prayer to G-d, and contemplation of His wisdom and greatness. These commandments also imply that we are not to act recklessly towards the magnificent creation that has been given into our stewardship.

The Goal

Why has all this become so crucial today? Because today we stand at the doorstep of a whole new world, an age promised by the prophets and described by the sages-an age of wisdom and of peace when no nation shall raise a sword against another and they shall learn war no more.”

In our day, G-d has granted us the capacity to produce enough food to feed the entire globe. With current technology, we can teach everyone. With current medical advances, we will soon be able to eradicate disease. The entire world can collaborate in dialogue and creativity. We only need a common ground. Not one that any human being can establish for us. The common ground we need must be the deep ground from which we were formed.

And that lies only in the hand of the Creator that formed us. The voice that Noah heard.

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