Let Us Pay What We Owe

“There is a story of a poor beggar who came to the home of a very rich man.  He looked upon the lavish furniture, the gold and silver ornaments, the precious jewels and clothes of this wealthy man and said to him, ‘How dare you spend my money on such luxuries?’”

Like a Zen Koan, this seemingly nonsensical story is used by Rabbi Olan to confront his audience with the problem of economic injustice.  The Rabbi asks the simple question: do we owe anything to the poor, to our fellow humans?  And if so, then perhaps more importantly, why?

These questions could not be more relevant today.  In 1964, when Rabbi Olan delivered this sermon, wealth inequality in the U.S. was relatively low.  Since the 1980s, however, wealth inequality has been steadily increasing.  A 2017 study by Oxfam found that eight individuals, six of them Americans, own as much combined wealth as half the human race.

Do we owe anything to the other half?

Follow this link to read the sermon text.
Follow this link to listen to the audio recording.
Follow this link to watch the scrolling-text video.

*Written by Joshua Hirsch.*