“The television camera brings into my home a close-up of a boy blown apart, bleeding, his face twisted in agony. Television has brought that boy into my home, he sits at my table, he stands over my bed. ‘This is war,’ I try to tell myself, and it is necessary at times when men have no other choice. But let us put the emphasis where it belongs. This is war, that boy with a hole where a face was; his mother and father, their agony is war. Even if the cause is just, let us be sure we know who is paying the price.
This sermon is one of Rabbi Olan’s most impassioned, most poetic, and most impactful. You can feel how deeply he was affected by an image of the Vietnam War on TV. The specter of this boy returns again and again in the sermon, as it did in his mind.
“Bring that battered boy to this season’s festivities,” he implores. “Put him under the Christmas tree or where you light the candles for Hanukkah.”
In the end, his position on the war itself and the solution to it may surprise you a little.
*Written by Joshua F. Hirsch*