“What really matters in life is quality not quantity.”
This sermon, delivered on April 23, 1967, is one in which Rabbi Olan’s personal voice comes through most clearly. It is noteworthy that his celebration of the “little things” in life appeared 6 years before E. F. Schumacher’s influential Small Is Beautiful was published. Rabbi Olan’s concern is that our fascination with “bigness”, from which we are unlikely to turn back, blinds us to much that matters more than mere scale.
His examples are humble: a businessman taking time off from work to play with his little son; reading a favorite book; listening to a beloved recording. “So many little things which give life its tone and its sense no matter how bigness envelops us.”
Rabbi Olan concludes by bringing these reflections back to the faith that (along with social justice) was his consistent theme: he reminds us that the prophet Elijah did not know God through “noisy flashy big things”. Rather, Elijah heard a “still small voice” that Rabbi Olan believed was still accessible to us today if we just listened.
*Written by Lionel S. Joseph*