“It is not too difficult to sympathize with God as He looks upon men* acting selfishly, deceitfully, in pride, with cruelty, and always with indifference. That He should conclude to wipe out the experiment and try again for something better seems reasonable. There are times when the creation of man seems to have been one big mistake.”
Rabbi Olan begins this sermon, delivered on November 19, by summarizing a mood of pessimism that he saw in the world in 1967. But he implies that pessimism creates a vicious circle; the horrors of history make people pessimistic, and their pessimism leads them to perpetrate more horrors.
Instead, Olan exorts us to embrace the prophetic, even the messianic tradition of the Bible – a tradition of hope, of belief in progress and the ultimate improvement of humanity.
Pessimism is at least as appealing today as it was in 1967; maybe even more so. So I will leave you with the Rabbi’s concluding paragraph in its entirety.
“The crisis of this hour of history is real and it is frightful. But it is also a token of man’s triumph. People are struggling for a better life, for more freedom. They boldly reject slavery and oppression. It is a time of change and it is painful. It is not the hour of doom. To the contrary, it is the hour of hope for man.”
*Gendered pronouns have been left intact in direct quotations.
*Written by Joshua F. Hirsch*