No trope is more common today than the injunction to engage in tikkun olam. The Hebrew phrase has an ancient pedigree, with spiritual if not mystical connotations; but of decidedly recent vintage is its current interpretation: namely, that Jews are uniquely responsible for improving the lives of their fellow human beings. For many, indeed, the imperative of social action defines the essence of Judaism. In American Grace, a study of contemporary American religion, Robert Putnam and David Campbell report that Jews (unlike their Christian counterparts) tend to be tongue-tied on matters of belief and religious observances but speak with great certainty about their responsibility to help “repair the world.” So important has this mission become that in some quarters it is held to supersede all other commandments. In the words of a young Reform rabbi in Los Angeles: “Don’t keep kosher, that’s fine; don’t keep Shabbat, that’s fine; marry a non-Jew—whatever. But understand that it will take away your Jewish identity if you don’t fight for justice.”Here's the thing: "tikkun olam" is not the same as Judaism proper, even if leftist Jews have come to believe it is.
Monday, June 18, 2012
"Tikkun Olam" a Way--Often the ONLY Way--for North American Lefty Jews to Identify With/Display Their Jewishness
Jack Wertheimer writes in the June issue of Commentary Magazine: