Tikkun ‘olam: Repairing the World
In Chasidic Jewish thinking Tikkun Olam means “repairing the world,” much in the way that a cobbler, with each stitch of his needle, brings shoes back to life. It is a spiritual activity which sets the world in its right order again.
True spirituality must be made real by repairing the world – by engaging in spiritual acts of prayer and worship, as well as Gemilut Chasidim (try to carry out good deeds) practical efforts to make people’s lives better. Meaning that Jews must preserve the world, much in the same way salt preserves food
Tikkun ‘olam, which literally means mending or repairing the world, is an ancient Hebrew phrase that has taken on new meaning in recent decades. It originally meant something like “to establish the world as the kingdom of the Almighty,” or to bring about God’s rule on earth. In contemporary usage it refers to the betterment of the world: relieving human suffering, achieving peace and mutual respect among individuals and peoples, and protecting the planet itself from destruction.
In order to mend or repair something, you first have to acknowledge that it is broken. Tikkun ‘olam begins with recognizing that we live in a broken world. This brokenness is most easily manifest to us in what we call the political realm. Bad regimes repress their people; ethnic and economic rivalries lead to hostility and even war; and people become divided across lines of class, race, and creed.
All these are real problems that must be dealt with, but our world’s brokenness goes much deeper. We do not ask ourselves what it means to be a human being, what we are doing in this world, or how we are to live out the gift of our lives. When we look at ourselves from the perspective of our very best moments, we know that we are not the people we could be or truly want to be. In our rush to survive, accomplish, and excel, all of which seem to run together at an ever faster pace, we have forgotten what it means to live in God’s world, to celebrate the sacredness of life itself.
Source: Judaism’s Ten Best Ideas By Dr. Arthur Green