Tikkun Olam – The Native Instinct

Tikkun Olam is the native urge to make coherent what is disparate. It takes MANY forms.

It is inherent in all Jewish prayer. Blessed are you, who heals the sick. Blessed are you who restores the bowed. Blessed are you who provides for my every need.

It is a return to balance, to enough. The prayers don’t say, “Blessed are you who makes me rich and others poor”.

We live in a number of worlds, environs, relations, and it is necessary for all of us to pay some attention to every one of them.

  • Individual to most Intimate (God)
  • Individual to how one treats oneself
  • Individual to closest: spouse, best friend, parent, child
  • Individual to/within one’s community
  • Individual to/within one’s nation
  • Individual to planet

In practice, Tikkun Olam MUST be applied collectively as well, not only individual relationships. Wherever there is a first person, whether “I” or “we”, there is the obligation to consider others affected by one’s actions, and to do everything that one is capable of to make sure that the effects are either helpful or minimally harmful, and by the others’ definition.

Political relationships are a component of Tikkun Olam, but nowhere near the only scope, or even the majority scope. I think of the relations to most intimate as also most important. God, person, spouse, children, parents, community, then politics.

I think of most of the practice of Tikkun Olam in positive actions, but as Torah is comprised of a many prohibitive commandments, not all of which can be understood in positive terms, there are prohibitions that our families must abide by, that our communities must abide by, that are nations must abide by.



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