“Worship is an art, it is full of symbols, art forms, music and poetry. It takes effort and will, desire and persistence to achieve the capacity to experience the beauty of holiness.”
In this sermon on holiness from March 21, 1965, Rabbi Olan, at his most profound, does not distinguish between religions, but seeks to illuminate a universal truth. From the Christian hymn “Take Time To Be Holy” to the taboos of indigenous religions to the modern Jewish philosophy of Martin Buber, Olan asks how we, as modern people, can experience the holiness that makes us human.
Olan argues that, without the holy, “modern man’s great danger is that he tends to know the world and other beings only as objects to be used.” Are we now seeing the fruits of that danger in the world around us? By treating the Earth as what Buber called an “It” and not a “Thou,” are we wrecking it as a home for ourselves and countless other species?
*Written by Joshua Hirsch.*