“Let Us Show Pity”

“Tell me first about the successful man, does he pity and can he cry for those who suffer?”

October 8, 1967

This is perhaps the most moving – and at the same time the most angry – of Rabbi Olan’s sermons that I have encountered so far.  It begins with an account of a very brief story by Sholom Aleichem called “A Pity for the Living,” which you can (and should) read here: cs.uky.edu/~raphael/IAYC/sholemaleykhem.tsar.eng.html

The rabbi’s voice rises to heights of loud condemnation when describing the norms of business, of politics, of science, of war, and of television that are devoid of pity for the suffering that always surrounds us. 

He points out that pity for those who suffer is really at the basis of Judaism, of Christianity, of our humanness. 

“It may be that we ought to set a new standard for the worth of a man (sic).  In all of our debates about whom shall we put into the White House as our president, the first quality above all is that he have mercy and show pity.”

Follow this link to read the sermon text.
Follow this link to listen to the audio recording.

*Written by Joshua F. Hirsch*