Tikkun Olam – Heal the World
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So let’s make a start!
The other evening during a Zoom meeting, a Messianic Jewish friend said during our discussion on what its means to be a Messianic Jews, he said that, according to Judaism its not so much a question of correct doctrine like Christianity so often insists, but to quote him, “it is much more about orthopraxy––putting into practice our faith.”
We who claim that Yeshua is the Messiah should not only believe the things he said, but equally we need to do the things he did. One without the other will lead to an unbalanced faith that will result in the many thing that we will fail to do.
1. If the reason we claim that Jesus/ Yeshua is the Messiah, the how can we help make a difference in life?” Bob Dylan’s song “Everything is Broken,” says it all. The universe is broken, meaning that imperfection has effected every aspect of life––From our viewpoint the brokenness of humankind lays at the foundations of the one of the main causes for the chaos that we experience.
2. Tikkun Olam –– “Heal the World or Repairing the World”
This phrase with kabbalistic roots has come to connote social justice.
Please don’t have a fit that we are advocating the esoteric aspects of the Kabbalah––not everything in the Kabbalistic writing is about magic. It contains a lot of good moral teaching that we can learn from.
” (Hebrew for “world repair”) has come to connote social action and the pursuit of social justice. The phrase has origins in classical rabbinic literature and in Lurianic kabbalah, a major strand of Jewish mysticism originating with the work of the 16th-century kabbalist Isaac Luria. He was an ascetic and their were many very constructive things that he taught and we find some of them very similar to Eckhart Meister the great Catholic German ascetic, whose teaching led towards the development of German Pietism.This subsequently resulted in the development of the Holiness movement and subsequently to the development of Protestant piety out of which grew the Evangelical expression of the Christian faith.
Roots of the Term
The term “mipnei tikkun ha-olam” (perhaps best translated in this context as “in the interest of public policy”) is used in the Mishnah (the body of classical rabbinic teachings codified circa 200 C.E.). There, it refers to social policy legislation providing extra protection to those potentially at a disadvantage — governing, for example, just conditions for the writing of divorce decrees and for the freeing of slaves.
In reference to individual acts of repair, the phrase “tikkun olam” figures prominently in the Lurianic account of creation and its implications: God contracted the divine self to make room for creation. Divine light became contained in special vessels, or kelim, some of which shattered and scattered. While most of the light returned to its divine source, some light attached itself to the broken shards. These shards constitute evil and are the basis for the material world; their trapped sparks of light give them power.
While this viewpoint does concur with a Gnostic view of creation and the fall of humankind, we should not reject all of this out of hand as being completely wrong, and of no use at all!
Let’s weigh it in the balance and see what we can learn?
While I reject the Gnostic/Lurianic view of creation and the fall of humankind, what I do concur with is the understanding that the universe is broken. However, Isaac Lurie’s raises some very useful ideas concerning how to address the question of fixing the world.
According to the Lurianic account, the first man, Adam, was intended to restore the divine sparks through mystical exercises, but his sin interfered. As a result, good and evil remained thoroughly mixed in the created world, and human souls (previously contained within Adam’s) also became imprisoned within the shards.The “repair,” that is needed, therefore, is two-fold: the gathering of light and of souls, to be achieved by human beings through the contemplative performance of religious acts. The goal of such repair, which can only be effected by humans, is to separate what is holy from the created world, thus depriving the physical world of its very existence—and causing all things return to a world before disaster within the Godhead and before human sin, thus ending history.
In contrast as Messianic believers we believe that it is in and through the redemption of Yeshua that we are able to address how we might get involved in the desperate need ‘to help fix things.‘
It is not through the gathering of light and of souls, to be achieved by human beings through the contemplative performance of religious acts. There is salvation in and through our trusting in Yeshua who is ‘the light of the world.’ Religious acts within themselves may be good, but they alone do not deal with the sin problem that is the cause of the brokenness that we witness within ourselves and in the world in general.
Tikkun Olam Today
“Tikkun olam” has become such a commonly used term in liberal Jewish circles that it is the basis for a joke, in which an American Jew visiting Israel asks her guide, “How do you say tikkun olam in Hebrew?”
While contemporary activists also use the term “tikkun olam” to refer to acts of repair by human beings, they do not necessarily believe in or have a familiarity with the term’s cosmological associations. Their emphasis is on acts of social responsibility, not the larger realm of sacred acts — and on fixing, not undoing, the world as we know it.
The phrase “tikkun olam” was first used to refer to social action work in the 1950s.
In subsequent decades, many other organizations and thinkers have used the term to refer to social action programs; tzedakah (charitable giving) and gemilut hasadim (acts of kindness); and progressive Jewish approaches to social issues. It eventually became re-associated with kabbalah, and thus for some with deeper theological meaning.
The phrase “tikkun olam” remains connected with human responsibility for fixing what is wrong with the world.
Contemporary usage of the phrase shares with the rabbinic concept of “mipnei tikkun ha-olam” a concern with public policy and societal change, and with the kabbalistic notion of “tikkun” the idea that the world is profoundly broken and can be fixed only by human activity.
Tikkun olam, once associated with a mystical approach to all mitzvot, now is most often used to refer to a specific category of mitzvot involving work for the improvement of society — a usage perhaps closer to the term’s classical rabbinic origins than to its longstanding mystical connotations.
A Messianic Response
This may be equated to the concept of how we as believers may approach the healing of the world. We need to make a start with ‘repairing humankind!’ This is because human beings are one of the major contributors to ‘breaking the world,’ in the first place.
5 Marks of Mission
• To proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom.
• To teach, baptise and nurture believers.
• To respond to human need by loving service.
• To transform unjust structures of society, to challenge violence of
every kind and pursue peace and reconciliation.
• To help restore our world and working together with nature
The 5 Marks of Mission
We as Messianic believers need to assert that we have an important role to play as part of God’s Mission in the world––helping to repair the world. We are to be signpost to the reality of God’s Kingdom and God’s Kingdom Values.
• To proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom
• teach, immerse (baptise) in the name of Yeshua, and nurture believers
• To respond to human need by loving service transform unjust structures of society, to challenge violence of every kind and pursue peace and reconciliation
• To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation, and sustain and renew the life of the earth
https://www.anglicancommunion.org/mission/marks-of-mission.aspx, accessed on 29th August 2019.
Yeshua said, “If you love me you will keep my commands.”
Helping to Fix The World:
As Messianic believers we have a God––given mandate to begin to address some of the issues that impact upon our personal world. For each of us that will be different depending on our context. Are from a Jewish heritage background? Are we from a Gentile background? Are one of your parents Jewish and the other Gentile? Where do you worship? Are you a member of a Messianic fellowship? A Christian church? Which denomination? Catholic, Orthodox, or Protestant?
These ‘Five Marks of Mission,’ should be part of our attempting ‘heal the world.’ One of the most important issues is that we need to recognise that it is only in and through the saving grace of God, in Yeshua Ha Mashiach that the beginning of the ‘fixing’ can begin.
Not Just a Band Aid Strip is Needed!
The sticking plasters solution is only of temporary use––we need to dig into the wound of what is hurting to find a more full-time solution.
‘the truth will set you free, and you will be free indeed!’ No more telling lies or half-truths will do. Don’t tell people what they want to hear, and fail to tell them the truth because we are afraid that they may not like what we have to say.
Don’t try and fix everything all at once –– choose one aspect from the Five Points of Mission, and explore how you may attempt to address that point of focus. One step at a time and trust God to give you wisdom and lead you onward. Amen.
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