For most, “Tikkun Olam” refers to the pursuit of social justice and repairing the world in which we live. Although this is the literal meaning, most are unaware that the concept originates with the Kabbalists of the 16th century who believed that in order for the world to be created, God needed to contract. For the Kabbalists this was the greatest act of love.
Once contracted, God created special vessels that contained the Divine light that would be used to create the world. However, God’s light was so great that many of the vessels shattered and spread the light over all creation. While most of the light returned to God, some attached itself to the broken shards. Kabbalists believe that these shards are all that is bad in the world and that through doing good we can help gather the remainder.
In many ways, the way we use the phrase “Tikkun Olam” today does capture the original intention: to fix what is broken in our world. Or Hadash, and the Reform Movement, are deeply committed to bettering the world in which we live and we invite you to contact us to get involved in our many community initatives.