Tikkun Olam

Tikkun olam is a concept in Judaism, interpreted in Orthodox Judaism as the prospect of overcoming all forms of idolatry, and by other Jewish denominations as an aspiration to behave and act constructively and beneficially. A Jewish concept defined by acts of kindness performed to perfect or repair the world. The phrase is found in the Mishnah, a body of classical rabbinic teachings. It is often used when discussing issues of social policy, insuring a safeguard to those who may be at a disadvantage.   The ideas behind the term have evolved over the centuries.  To modern Jewish ears, it is  the idea that Jews bear responsibility not only for their own moral, spiritual, and material welfare, but also for the welfare of society at large. To the ears of contemporary pluralistic Rabbis, the term connotes “the establishment of Godly qualities throughout the world” In modern Jewish congregational prayer, Tikkun olam is found in this part of the prayers, “to speedily see Your mighty splendor, to remove detestable (idolatry) from the land, and the (false) gods will be utterly ‘cut off’, to tahken olam (repair the world) in God’s kingdom”  The Reform Movement of Judaism uses this prayer, “ “You [Lord] have taught us to uphold the falling, to heal the sick, to free the captive, to comfort all who suffer pain”   Jesus continued this thread of moral development when he said “inasmuch as you have done it [shown mercy] to the least of these, you have done it to me.”  We are to care for and be concerned about the least in our society – the widows, the orphans, the lame, the sick, the prisoner and the sojourner (foreigner) in our land.  This moral commandment rings out of the bible from beginning to end.   I write this the morning after the election.   I did not watch the election returns and I am still ignorant of who will be doing what for the next few years.  I maintain this state of ignorance for a while early Wednesday morning because the outcome of the election does not matter with respect to my proposal here.  We ALL need to be about Tikkun Olam which means “repair of the world.”   As a baby-step towards this goal, I am going to add a component to our Wednesday noon Bible study.  Twenty minutes of prayer and meditation will be offered (starting today 11/7) from 11:40 to noon.  We will have a topic each week to pray for.  People are encouraged to submit their own concerns and suggestions for topics to me.  The list of topics will be published.  Hopefully, we will be enabled to deconstruct some of our own forms of modern-day idolatry and we will be better able to serve the least in our society.   Moses and Jesus would certainly agree on that.