Tikkun Olam Must Begin in Israel

There is a saying, charity begins at home; the word charity means help, assistance.

Tikkun Olam means repairing the world. The word tikkun means “repair” or “perfect,” and olam means “world”; the two words together – tikkun-olam – mean “amendment, correction of [the] world.” Judaism believes that the concept of Tikkun Olam originates in the early rabbinic period (70-500 CE) and was given new meanings in the Kabbalah of the medieval period with further connotations in modern Judaism and the Jewish state, Israel.

The phrase tikkun olam is included in the Aleinu, a Jewish prayer that is traditionally recited three times daily. The Aleinu prayer, said to have been written by the Biblical Joshua, praises God for allowing the Jewish people to serve God, and expresses hope that the whole world will one day recognize God and abandon idolatry. The phrase Tikkun Olam is used in the expression, le’takken olam be’malchut Shaddai, “to repair the world under God’s kingdom.” The word le’takken, meaning “to repair, to mend” is in the infinitive, and so le’takken olam, as in the Aleinu prayer means “to repair [the] world.”

In other words, when all people of the world abandon false gods and recognize God, the world will be perfected.

Jews also believe that performing the ritual of mitzvot – meaning commandments and religious obligations – is a way of tikkun olam, helping to perfect the world, and that the performance of more mitzvot will hasten the coming of the Messiah and the Messianic Age. This belief also dates back, at least to the early Talmudic period. According to Rabbi Shim’on bar Yochai, the Jewish people will be redeemed when every Jew observes Shabbat (the Sabbath) twice in all its details.

And then there are the Tzadikim Nistarim, meaning, the hidden righteous ones, or Lamed-Vav Tzadikim; the thirty six righteous ones, often abbreviated to Lamed-Vav (The letter Lamed- ‘L’ in Hebrew represents the number thirty [30] and the letter Vav – ‘V’ in Hebrew represents the number six [6]), refers to 36 Righteous people, a belief rooted within the more mystical dimensions of Judaism.

The source of the belief in the Lamed-Vav Tzadikim is the Talmud, which explain the concept as follows: it is said that at all times there are 36 special people in the world, and that were it not for them, all of them, if even one of them was missing, the world would come to an end. This widely-held belief and the most unusual Jewish concept is based on a Talmudic statement to the effect that in every generation 36 righteous “greet the Shechinah,” greet the Divine Presence, Tractate Sanhedrin 97b; Tractate Sukkah 45b.

The mystical Hasidic Judaism, as well as other segments of Judaism, also believe that there is this Jewish tradition of 36 righteous people whose role in life is to justify the purpose of humankind in the eyes of God. Tradition holds that their identities are unknown to each other and that, if one of them comes to a realization of their true purpose then they may die and their role is immediately assumed by another person.

Therefore, the Lamed-Vav Tzaddikim are also called the Nistarim – the concealed ones. In Jewish folk tales, they emerge from their self-imposed concealment and, by the mystic powers which they possess, they succeed in averting the threatened disasters of a people persecuted by the enemies that surround them. They return to their anonymity as soon as their task is accomplished, ‘concealing’ themselves once again in a Jewish community wherein they are relatively unknown. The Lamed-Vavniks are scattered throughout the Diaspora, are not acquaintance with one another and do not themselves know that they are ones of the 36. Since each of the 36 is an exemplar of anavah – humility – having such a virtue preclude against anyone’s self-proclamation of being among the special 36 righteous as they are simply too humble to believe that they are one of the 36.

There is a series show on Fox called Touch, a blend of science, spirituality and emotion that touches the issue of Tikkun Olam. The series follow seemingly unrelated people, all over the world, whose lives affect each other in ways seen and unseen, known and unknown. At the story’s center is Martin Bohm, acted by Kiefer Sutherland, a widower and single father, haunted by his inability to connect with his emotionally challenged 11-year-old son, Jake, who is obsessed with numbers-writing long strings of them in his ever-present notebooks-and with discarded cell phones.

Then everything changes when Martin meets Arthur Teller, a professor and an expert on children who possess special gifts when it comes to numbers. Martin learns that Jake possesses an extraordinary gift of the ability to perceive the seemingly hidden patterns that connect every life on the planet. While Martin wants nothing more than to communicate directly with his son, Jake connects to his father through numbers, not words. Martin realizes that it is his job to decipher these numbers and recognize their meaning and the instructive actions they carry. As Martin puts the pieces together, he will help people across the world connect as their lives intersect and get repaired according to the patterns Jake has foreseen.

Jake is a fictional Lamed-Vav Tzadik and with his father’s help to connect and communicate, from one episode to the next one he will repair the world and shape humanity’s destiny.

Then, as a matter of fact Tikkun Olam is some sort of charity, a mitzvah, and whether it is Tikkun Olam, or it is charity, or it is a mitzvah, it all starts at home.

And all this leads me to the state of Israel.

When Israel’s economy went from failed socialistic system to western capitalistic and the drive for innovation took a new dimension, with it the ancient duty of the Jewish nation for Tikkun Olam reached new proclamation. Israeli society speak volume of its duty le’takken olam and Israelis act upon such mitzvah-duty on every possible turn. You will find Israeli doctors seeking and finding remedies to the most debilitating diseases on earth; Israelis are first on the scene anywhere in the world where disasters occur. And Israelis, almost feverishly, work on inventions that have, are and will make the world a better place to live.

But these good deeds are for the outside world to see and hopefully appreciate. But, remember, it all must start at home, and with Israelis it does not.

Tikkun must begin at home, locally; Israel society must repair its most unstable democratic system and the corrupt political system that manages it. If not it is heading for a disaster.

Israeli society must find immediate solutions to the crippling differences between the secular and the religious Jewish factions and unite. But most of all recognize that each and every Jew living in Israel has a high duty to assert and secure his or her destiny in all the land given to him or her by the Almighty. Only when these repairs from within will be made the Israeli-Jewish nation can, collectively, engages in Tikkun Olam that will reach new heights.

Nurit Greenger
During the 2006 second Lebanon War, Nurit Greenger, referenced then as the "Accidental Reporter" felt compelled to become an activist. Being an 'out-of-the-box thinker, Nurit is a passionately committed advocate for Jews, Israel, the United States, and the Free World in general. From Southern California, Nurit serves as a "one-woman Hasbarah army" for Israel who believes that if you stand for nothing, you will fall for anything.

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