cover image The Way into Tikkun Olam (Repairing the World)

The Way into Tikkun Olam (Repairing the World)

Elliot N. Dorff, Author . Jewish Lights $24.99 (287p) ISBN 978-1-58023-269-2

In this straightforward, inspiring book, Dorff (who won the National Jewish Book Award for To Do the Right and the Good ) introduces the Jewish practice of tikkun olam —healing or repairing the world. He opens with the history of tikkun olam , tracing the concept from the time of the Mishnah (circa 200 C.E.), showing that the imperative to repair the world is closely related to other Jewish values like justice and loving-kindness. After laying this theological and historical groundwork, Dorff moves on to practical considerations: what does repairing the world actually entail? Tikkun olam calls Jews to acts of social justice—it's no coincidence that throughout American history, Jews have been at the forefront of movements for civil rights and a living wage. But tikkun olam also governs issues like speech; people interested in repairing the world shouldn't gossip or commit slander. In Dorff's view, tikkun olam encompasses celebrating marriages and births with our neighbors, and mourning deaths with them. Indeed, even maintaining good relationships with our family is part of repairing the world, and Dorff devotes three chapters to explaining marital, filial and parental obligations. Jews and non-Jews alike will find Dorff's exhortations challenging and provocative. (Dec.)