What a Beginning!

“In a world that is never finished, there is always hope, and hope is the greatest good of all.”

In his sermon of January 16, 1966, Rabbi Olan says that the creation of the world is a process, not a finished thing.  “The sages… wrote into the liturgy of the synagogue the sentence, ‘In His goodness, He renews daily the work of creation.’”

This leads Rabbi Olan to propose a role for us in working to complete what God began.  Although he does not use the phrase tikkun olam, “healing the world”, that phrase would be compatible with his teaching.  Rabbi Olan emphasizes that God found the world to be “good” rather than perfect, which leaves room for us to be involved: “We are part of a creative endeavor which is moving toward a great and perfect world.”

Rabbi Olan also distinguishes between the artistic truth of the Genesis myth, which he calls “the greatest myth of all time”, and the empirical truths of science.  He does not belittle science, but for him, the truths of literature, art, and especially music, more closely approach the timeless, the eternal than do the truths of scientific theory.  For Rabbi Olan, we can become partners with God in realizing the potential that began with “Let there be light.”

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 Lionel S. Joseph and Frances M. Olan.*