At the First Station in Jerusalem, on the night of Jerusalem Day, on Wednesday, May 24, 2017, the Zion Community organized “listening” circles and after that an evening of prayer for Jerusalem, with some words of meditation on the question of listening. Here are the words of Father Rafic, responsible for the Jerusalem kehilla, on this occasion.

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I will begin with verses from Psalm 55 (verses 13-14), words of pain and complaint, said by King David to a friend of his who had become an enemy: “But it is you, my equal, my companion, my familiar friend, with whom I kept pleasant company; we walked in the house of God with the throng” (Psalm 55:13-14). Most of the commentators explain that the word regesh “throng” does not mean regashot “emotions” (that we walked in the house of God with a sense of excitement (hitragshut), but rather that the word refers to the mass of those who had come to pray or the noise (ra’ash) that this mass generated. It is interesting to note the connection between the two words “regesh” and “ra’ash).

Other the past few days there has been a lot of ra’ash (noise) and a lot of negative or positive regashot (emotions) in Jerusalem. This evening, we want to move from noise to quiet and to listening. In this quiet, we want to remember Jerusalem not as an ideology or as a symbol but rather as a place where human beings from different sectors live: Arabs, Jews and people who have come from other places. We want to remember the faces of people that we know: friends and partners, people who have caused us suffering because of various reasons, people we do not agree with. We want to bless them this evening, we want to wish them much good and to pray for Jerusalem and all her inhabitants and not only for one part of her inhabitants.

I want to stress the connection between quiet and listening. Without quiet there can be no real listening. I mean quiet and not silence (silencing the noise inside and our) but rather I mean to be quiet in the midst of the storm. Our life is like a ship that sails on the big, wide ocean. There are waves all the time but at certain moments the waves become threatening and violent. They push the boat in different directions that are not those we want to go in. On the boat, there is the captain and his first task is not to get anxious but rather to remain quiet. The captain cannot stop the waves, however, with the rudder under his control, he can (and must) perceive the external forces and direct them so that we go in the desired direction in order to reach the destination. We too, in the society in which we live, are surrounded by many voices and influences with which we do not agree or at least with some of them. The great art is not to silence the other but rather to know how to “listen” to others, to “perceive” what is permissible to perceive from them and together with them to find a common direction that would be constructive and positive and not destructive.