Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Rabbi Min on Tikkun Olam

Healing the World - Basic Jewish Value #8:  The mission statement of Jewish Family Service of New Mexico reads: “Guided by Jewish values, we offer targeted social services that help preserve and improve the quality of life for New Mexicans.” What are these Jewish values? How do they help guide the day-to-day work that we do at JFS? When new employees join the staff of JFS, they are introduced to eighteen of these basic Jewish values.

The words Tikkun Olam refer to the Jewish value of actively participating in healing the world. It is sometimes used very lightly ... as a kind of substitute for Be good, or Do good deeds, but this is not what it really means.

Tikkun comes from the Hebrew verb l'taken, which translates as to repair. We live in a broken and imperfect world; we are required to participate in fixing it!

Olam, which is usually translated as world, has a broader meaning ... all time and all space... meaning the entire universe!

Taken together, this phrase means that each of us has the obligation to recognize the brokenness and imperfection around us...in our families, communities, and within ourselves. According to Jewish tradition, each individual is obligated to participate in this repair; it isn't optional!

In Pirkei Avot, a section of the Mishnah, a collection of ancient teachings which is full of advice for creating and sustaining healthy lives and community, we are told: "

It is not your obligation to complete the task,
but neither are you at liberty to desist from it entirely.

Each JFS program actively participates in Tikkun Olam, whether it is supporting Holocaust Survivors whose painful pasts can haunt them, providing Medication Management to seniors who are having difficulty keeping track of correctly administering their often complex medications, assisting seniors maintain their cognitive agility through participating in the "Brain Fitness" activities offered through the JFS Health and Wellness programs, or visiting Jewish people in the jail who are working to rebuild their lives and rejoin the community.

When you support our work through referring someone in need, or through volunteering or donating time, money or ideas, you are doing your part in helping to heal the world.

Thank you!

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