The Torah says: “The pit is empty; there is no water in it.” It would seem that the second part of the sentence is a repetition of the first. If it has already been said that the pit is empty, why specify that there is no water, as the word “empty” means there is nothing in it? But is this what was actually said? In fact, this is not what was said.
A traveler approaching the pit and taking a glimpse inside could tell other people walking with him that there is no water inside and that it is empty, meaning, there is nothing to quench their thirst. But if we look carefully into the pit, we would see snakes and scorpions at the bottom of it (as Jewish rabbis would say).
Thus, from a practical point of view, the pit can be considered empty, as there is no water and no way to benefit from it. But if believing it is completely empty, someone decides to descend to the bottom of the pit, he will be risking his life, as he will inevitably be met by snakes and scorpions.
Why have I mentioned this ancient Jewish wisdom? This phrase describes the most important principle laid down by God regarding the functioning of our world: if there is a vessel – whether in the material or spiritual sense – it must be filled with something. When a person does not fill his life and the world around him with holiness and good (in the above phrase water represents holiness and good), evil (which is symbolised by those snakes and scorpions) will rush in to fill the void.
This analogy can be made regarding every facet of life, including those pertaining to society and the role of the state. Some positive developments in society, in areas where the government shows interest can be found, while areas that get less attention from the government harbour conditions capable of breeding trouble.
Being a spiritual person, I find it easier to analyse things that happen in the spiritual realm. I would like to note that during my 20 plus years in Kazakhstan, the President of the country has never overlooked the power of inter-faith and inter-ethnic relations.
The Assembly of the People of Kazakhstan and the Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions fill the very pit I mentioned above. Meanwhile, in the majority of other countries, this very pit is filled with religious extremism, much to the chagrin of any sane person.
In Kazakhstan, I see people seeking religious wisdom to fill the pit, which is the result of religious illiteracy and the atheistic approach to understanding the world. Today, people know about the religion of their ancestors less and less and this gap is being filled with slogans calling for hatred and fratricide. Since many people today don’t have true religious knowledge, pseudo-religious slogans fill the gap. We can combat this phenomenon only by refilling the void with wisdom from our religious leaders.
This is exactly what the Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions does. The forum allows the most respected and recognised religious leaders in their communities declare openly that religion always promotes peace, love and friendship and strongly stands against evil and violence, the latter being the reason why religion is completely different from pseudo-sects and movements that justify violence in the name of God.
God supports good will and bestows His blessings on those who seek kindness and peace. If at least one person, having heard on a television programme or having read in the newspaper about the Congress, realises that he has had many negative ideas imposed on him by bad people and refuses to participate in the activities of a sect or a terrorist organisation, it would mean that at least one soul has been saved. At the same time, we can’t know exactly how many souls have been saved in reality, because, in fact, not only the soul of that man should be taken into account, but the souls of people which he could have harmed.
Therefore, each Congress and even its preparation, is a good deed that contributes to the safety of citizens. I hope that with the will of God, with the help of the Congress and due to our aspirations for peace and prosperity, God will send tranquility and well-being to Kazakhstan and all people on Earth!
The author is the Chief Rabbi of Kazakhstan.