“Consider G-d’s doing! Who can straighten what He has twisted?” Ecclesiastes 7:13
Many in the Jewish community interpret “Tikkun Olam” to mean “repairing the world” in terms of social justice. But why have Jewish people decided that this should be an essential goal for every Jewish person to strive for, when we cannot straighten or even change what God has twisted?
Many people in the world want to see their definition of good manifest itself; however, as humans, we lack the eternal perspective to determine what ‘good’ truly means. It appears that both religious and secular communities have severely misused and distorted the term “Tikkun Olam”. People may unknowingly substitute true religious observance with general societal and civilized principles, without any ill intent. This often happens out of ignorance and misguided attempts to pursue virtuous goals, which can unfortunately lead to tragic situations.
The notion of Tikkun Olam holds that we, as humans, need to repair the world that we have harmed through our sin. However, it is key to understand that we cannot repair the world physically; we live in a fallen world that can only be restored through the Jewish Messiah, Jesus (Y’shua).
The idea of Tikkun Olam is a misconception without the power to repair, so Reformed Rabbis have been focusing upon fixing social justice issues. Unfortunately, its true meaning is not what is commonly believed and purported.
Tikkun Olam may not be seen as a centuries-old tradition in Christianity, but for believers, it is a call to action. We are representatives of Jesus (Y’shua), and, as commanded in Matthew 24:14, we are to bring knowledge of how to repair the world into the world.
Tikkun Olam may not mean repairing the world in the sense of social justice; traditional sources don’t even consider it a direct human imperative or action, but rather one that is left in God’s hands. As believers, we can see this as a call to action in all things, and our work on this earth can be seen as a movement in the world to repair.
I think that repentance is something that is at the core of Tikkun Olam. Repentance is understanding what we have done wrong and changing our behavior to do better. It seems like a personal act of self-improvement but it’s actually meant to lead us back to how God wants us to live. Repentance might seem small, but it is fundamental in leading us out of darkness and into life with God.
We are not instructed to save the world; rather, we are instructed to love the Lord our God with all our being, and to love our neighbor, which sums up the 613 commandments given in the Torah. Therefore, we are to live in a way that reflects Jesus (Y’shua), both in practice and action, doing exactly as the Father has told us.