The Jewish Approach to Repairing the World (Tikkun Olam)
A Brief Introduction for Christians
A window into the Jewish idea of responsibility to care for the world—
written especially for Christians.
The concept of repairing the world (tikkun olam) is an integral part of Jewish life. It helps shape Jewish social and family relationships, and even mandates how Jews should speak to others. But why is it important for Christians to understand this Jewish approach to life? And what kind of impact can understanding this fundamental aspect of Judaism have on Christians seeking to develop a deeper understanding of their own faith?
With insight and wisdom, award-winning author Rabbi Elliot Dorff provides an accessible, honest and thorough exploration of this important Jewish concept. With easy-to-understand explanations of Jewish terms, practices and history, each chapter explores a different facet touched by the tradition of tikkun loam. Rabbi Dorff also addresses parallel themes and practices in the Christian tradition, helping you better understand the roots of Christianity and how the fundamentals of Judaism relate and reflect your own aspirations to repair the world. Caring for the Poor The Power of Words The Ministry of Presence Duties of Spouses to Each Other Children’s Duties to Their Parents Parent’s Duties to Their Children The Traditional Jewish Vision of the Ideal World
Dorff, a professor of philosophy at the American Jewish University, and Willson, a student of divinity at Fuller Theological Seminary, claim that Jews and Christians will better understand each other if they learn that both religions share the concern for tikkun olam, repairing the world. This debatable assertion enables them to cite Christian and Jewish sources in their effort to explain tikkun olam. They limit the term to social interactions and practices such as helping poor people, avoiding foul language and gossip, telling the truth (with exceptions), visiting the sick (and sitting down with them), comforting mourners and rejoicing with bridal couples. Within the family, harmonious relationships with spouses, parents and children are deemed to be part of tikkun olam. Concern for the environment is not discussed in order to keep a strict focus on the human and social realm. This book usefully prescribes proper interpersonal relationships according to Judaism and Christianity. The tenuous relationship between this subject and the obligation to repair the world is, however, thinly presented. Dorff and Willson have given us a useful but limited book on human relationships. The yet-to-be written comprehensive book on tikkun olam awaits new authors and a fresh approach.