What the New Year Holds in Store

If there is a moral law in the universe, then if we choose the right we shall achieve the good.

In his sermon of January 23, 1966, Rabbi Olan begins by making it clear that the prophetic tradition in Judaism is not about “fortunetelling.”  Rather, it is about the inevitable working of “moral law” in history.  Rabbi Olan quotes the Prophet Amos, the first of the great Hebrew Prophets, who predicted a gloomy future for Israel “because they were unjust to the poor, the needy, and the righteous.” 

Rabbi Olan connected this injustice with what was happening around the world when he was writing in 1966: “Poverty-ridden peoples who have been oppressed for a long time are in rebellion.”  He specifically identified people in former colonies in South America, Africa, and Asia, and especially in Viet Nam.  Looking back to our own revolution, Rabbi Olan stated, “We, of all peoples, ought to understand the revolution of our time.” 

He went on to explain that even if we were to achieve a negotiated peace in Viet Nam, “The revolution, which is the result of years of colonial domination and tyrannical oppression, will continue.”  Rabbi Olan acknowledges that this prophecy, Biblical in tone, is a gloomy one.  But he points out that in the working of moral law, there is hope.  We can choose compassion and justice, and if we do, “The work of righteousness shall be peace.”

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 Frances M. Olan and Lionel S. Joseph.*