The sermon entitled “The Most Important Event” was broadcast on April 14, 1963, in the middle of Passover week. In it Rabbi Olan maintains that the key event in Jewish history was the Exodus from Egypt. Thus Passover “is looked upon as the anniversary of the spiritual birth of the people of Israel” when we “recall the dreams and faith of our fathers in the hope that it will strengthen our loyalty and our courage to continue what they initiated.”
He carries over the theme of the most important event into the realm of “the nature and destiny of our country.” In words that ring true for us today, he says, “Lost as we seem to be about our nation’s purpose, and debilitating as this is to our welfare, it would be good if we sat down soberly and solemnly to a national passover and remembered who we are, and found our way back to the road which our fathers chose,” the road to liberty and justice for all.
On a personal level as well, Rabbi Olan challenges us “to name the one experience of our lives which was most crucial in determining our future.” Here, too, he encourages us to reflect upon the origins of the event or decision.
In all these realms, he asks us two questions: First, how would our history, whether personal, political, or religious, be different if these key events had not taken place? Second, was the game worth the candle? Thinking deeply about these questions can lead us to a spirit of renewal and reconnect us to a sense of purpose.
*Written by Frances Olan.*