Tikkun Olam (Copy)

ת"ר מפרנסים עניי נכרים עם עניי ישראל ומבקרין חולי נכרים עם חולי ישראל וקוברין מתי נכרים עם מתי ישראל מפני דרכי שלום:

Our rabbis taught: We provide for the gentiles' poor with Israel's poor, we visit gentiles' sick with Israel's sick, and we bury the gentiles' dead with Israel's dead, due to the ways of peace.

(ז) מפרנסין ומכסין עניי עכו"ם עם עניי ישראל מפני דרכי שלום ועני המחזר על הפתחים אין נזקקין לו למתנה מרובה אבל נותנין לו מתנה מועטת ואסור להחזיר את העני ששאל ריקם ואפילו אתה נותן לו גרוגרת אחת שנאמר אל ישוב דך נכלם.

We provide sustenance and clothing for the poor of the gentiles together with the poor of the Jewish people as an expression of the ways of peace.

When a poor person begs from door to door, we do not give him a large gift. Instead, we give him a small gift. It is forbidden to turn away a poor person who asks [for charity] empty-handed. Even giving him one fig [is sufficient], as [Psalms 74:21]: "Let not the dejected turn away in shame."

א. כי צריך כל אדם לומר: כל העולם לא נברא אלא בשבילי (סנהדרין לז א). נמצא כשהעולם נברא בשבילי, צריך אני לראות ולעין בכל עת בתקון העולם. ולמלאות חסרון העולם, ולהתפלל בעבורם.

Likutei Moharan 5:2

Since each man must say, "The whole world was only created for me." (Sanhedrin 37) --hence, insofar as the world was created for me, I must at all times see and look into tikkun olam/rectifying the world and to fill the lackings of the world and pray for them.

Emergence of Tikkun Olam

…[Tikkun Olam also appeared in Orthodox rhetoric: in the 1930s two books, each titled Tikkun Olam, were published in Europe, respectively supporting and attacking the religious anti-Zionist Agudath Israel party.]

...[Two American rabbinic thinkers to invoke and popularize Tikkun Olam in the 1960s were Harold Schulweis and Irving Greenberg, who saw tikkun olam as a response to God's absence during the Holocaust and to a world] “created imperfect and incomplete.” Humanity was tasked with being “an ally of God in perfecting and repairing the incomplete world (tikkun olam).” In North America, tikkun olam... made its debut around 1940... Jewish educator Alexander Dushkin invoked tikkun olam during World War II. Dushkin... insisted that the “inalienable rights” of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” had their analogy in the Torah’s description of God’s attributes... He added that while democracy “based its social relationships on the dignity of the individual” and envisioned an engaged citizenry pursuing the common good through “social service,” Jewish tradition was based upon “the conception of Man as both the child of God and the partner of the Almighty in tikkun ha-olam—the continuous task of reconstructing the world.” [In 1945,] Dushkin, the executive director of the Jewish Education Committee of New York, included [tikkun olam] among seven “Common Elements” that should be taught in Jewish schools of all denominations.

… [In early twentieth-century Palestine, the term] was adopted... to describe the most utopian manifestations of the Zionist project. To be a metaken olam, a perfecter of the world, was to embrace radical change. For example, during the Second Aliyah (1904–1914), tikkun ha-olam was used to articulate the motivations of the members of the earliest cooperative settlements. Later, it became an important [concept in the thought of] Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook… Kook declined to see a binary opposition between the material and the spiritual worlds or between Israel and the other nations, teaching that there was holiness in all of creation. Furthermore, he regarded penitence as a means to tikkun, and a reunification with God

... By the 1970s and 1980s leading agencies were responding to criticism by intensifying their efforts to transmit Jewish values, particularly by increasing support for educational and cultural endeavors. They were also articulating their social welfare and social justice agenda using terms of Jewish values… In teaching “an entire generation of federation activists to think and visualize themselves in more Judaic terms,” Greenberg helped introduce and popularize a “vocabulary” of Jewish value-concepts...Thus, by the 1980s and 90s Hebrew terms such as tzedakah and tikkun olam began to appear in federation slogans, resolutions and promotional materials.

… Shlomo Bardin... founder of the Brandeis Camp Institute [also] played an important role in reintroducing tikkun olam. [One Jewish leader recalled that during summer 1960, Bardin taught] campers that “the purpose of Judaism” could be found in four words of the second paragraph of the Aleinu prayer: l’takeyn olam b’malkhut Shaddai. Bardin insisted that it was their “task” as Jews to “fix the world.”

... Tikkun olam remained a fairly obscure term throughout the early 1960s... In 1970, determined to place greater emphasis on tzedakah and social justice, USY [the Conservative Youth movement] leaders revamped and expanded its Building Spiritual Bridges program and renamed it Tikun Olam. All of its social action and tzedakah programs were coordinated through this project, and, in 1975, an accompanying educational guide was published with the same title.

In the 1980s, tikkun olam also began to appear in the curricula of the Reform movement. As in the Conservative movement, the discussion of tikkun olam often occurred within the context of values and character education or was linked to social action and social justice programming… An article in The Jewish Catalog, however, was most important in spreading the idea of tikkun olam throughout North America. [Historians argue that one ... major achievements of the Catalog was popularizing the] language of the havurah movement, including words like tzedakah, kavanah (intentionality) and tikkun olam.

...In 1975,... [newly-ordained Rabbi Gerald] Serotta became interested in the derivation and meaning of [tikkun olam]. Eager to find a term that could express what he believed were the core Jewish values that infused social justice activism, Serotta approached one of his teachers, Eugene Borowitz, about tracing the application of tikkun olam in rabbinic literature. He was surprised to learn that the majority of cases where tikkun olam was mentioned were associated with divorce law. This led Borowitz to suggest that he would find another rabbinic idiom, “mipnei darkhei shalom,” for the sake of social peace, more useful for his purposes. Serotta, however, was intrigued by the Talmudic passages in which tikkun olam was associated with economic justice…Tikkun olam remained an important motif for [politically liberal Jewish organizations] through­out the 1980s…

The most important figures [shaping Jewish politics around tikkun olam in the 1990s] were Leonard Fein and Michael Lerner…Fein strongly maintained that far from endangering Jewish survival by making Judaism indistinguishable from liberalism or secular humanism, tikkun olam gave purpose and meaning to Jewish survival… Michael Lerner... co-founded TIKKUN, a political and cultural journal... to help keep “the Prophetic tradition alive.”… Lerner was instrumental in stimulating a wider communal conversation about social justice in Jewish life... Liberal rabbis and other Jewish thinkers increasingly sought the paradigm of tikkun when discussing challenges that were either universal or particular to the Jewish community. The rhetoric of repair was especially well suited to the [time], as people became increasingly focused on personal meaning and spiritual seeking.

...Tikkun olam promises much and demands comparatively little in the way of sacrifice. This is its greatest strength and, perhaps, its major weakness.

- Dr. Jonathan Krasner, "The Place of Tikkun Olam in American Jewish Life", Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, 2014. http://jcpa.org/article/place-tikkun-olam-american-jewish-life1/

In Kabbalah

Emergence of Tikkun Olam

(יט) אָר֗וּר מַטֶּ֛ה מִשְׁפַּ֥ט גֵּר־יָת֖וֹם וְאַלְמָנָ֑ה וְאָמַ֥ר כָּל־הָעָ֖ם אָמֵֽן׃ (ס)
(19) Cursed be he who subverts the rights of the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow.—And all the people shall say, Amen.