“Most religions… idealize a person who, by his life, shows us the God we cannot see.
In this sermon, delivered on April 30, 1967, Rabbi Olan grapples with the question, how do we know that God is active in the world today? Even Moses did not rely on faith alone: he asked of God, “Show me Thy face.”
Rabbi Olan uses the figure of the prophet Elijah to make the point that it is often easier for us to see God reflected in the acts of righteous people than it is to encounter God directly. Furthermore, “men should be encouraged to call upon their capacity for doing good, showing mercy, and persevering with faith. This is what the Elijah tradition is all about.”
In addition to Elijah, Rabbi Olan lists among the righteous three sages of the past: Moses, Jesus and Mohammed, and adds Abraham Lincoln, Gandhi and Einstein. Who would you put on your list of the righteous?
At the end of this sermon, Rabbi Olan makes it clear that the righteous need not be great or famous:
“One does not have to look to the unique lives of great men. The Elijah tradition teaches us to look for God in the lives of simple men around us who quietly, graciously, bravely do what the Lord doth require of them. If you would know what God is doing now, observe those men and women whose lives reveal the divine presence.”
*Written by Frances M. Olan and Lionel S. Joseph*