An Attempt at Defining Religion

“The Biblical answer to man’s question – ‘why should I do good and not evil?’ – is that man is made in the image of God. God is holy, so is man.”

Rabbi Olan’s March 1, 1964 radio address to the people of the Dallas-Ft. Worth area focused on an important Biblical concept that he felt had fallen into disuse: holiness. Rather than letting go of the word and concept of holiness, Olan called for a revival of understanding and application.

“If we recaptured the spirit of the holy, we would be closer to doing what is right, to respecting ourselves and our neighbors, to living our love in marriage at its best, and find faith even at the end of our journey.”

The title of this sermon is “An Attempt at Defining Religion.” Yet, rather than defining religion, Rabbi Olan defined holiness. Did he miss his intended point? Probably not. Perhaps what he is saying is that there is no true religion without the concept of holiness. Holiness is both a state of being and a way of living in relationship with God, ourselves, our families, and our neighbors.

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