Tikkun Olam and Loshon Hora

Yesterday, I wrote about less-than-positive experiences in the Jewish community, and about the nature of ostracism. It’s not a pleasant topic. As wonderful as  it would be if Jewish communities were entirely warm and inclusive, they aren’t. Communities, families and rabbis do bad things. They can cut people off, spread rumours, and destroy relationships. It’s ugly. Immensely ugly. And what’s ugliest of all is that it is so often swept under the rug.

There’s a phrase I use a lot- central to Judaism, and beautiful in every sense- called Tikkun Olam. It means mending the world. Making the world a better place. When we’re surrounded by so much poverty, illness, hatred and sorrow, it’s a very tempting goal. I think we can all agree that there’s a lot wrong with the world right now, and that we all have a duty to do something about it. We need to spread light and kindness, we need to perform good deeds, we need to help others. These are all nice, pretty notions- who doesn’t want to ment the world?

But if we’re going to fix it, we first need to recognise what’s wrong with it, and what’s more, we’re going to have to actually talk about it.

No more sweeping under the rug. No more branding any sort of criticism as ‘loshon hora’. No more hiding our problems within the gates of the safe, ‘warm’ community and not facing up to them. If we’re going to mend this world, and bring Moshiach (may he come speedily and in our days!), we need to mend ourselves first. We need to get talking. And that’s the not-so-pretty side of Tikkun Olam. Do you think you can face up to it?

 

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