Why isn’t the world perfect?I mean this seems like a logical question, especially if you believe that G-d is perfect. Clearly Hashem has infinite power and can do anything, so why not take away pain and loss and suffering? This is a question that comes up most often after a tragedy. And if you live in California or follow the news, you’ll know that the state has been hit a lot lately. It can be dizzying.
As we try to recover, individually and as a community, state and people… we move between the small and big picture. There are things we need to do to make ourselves whole, and then, at the same time or after we are built back up, we want to continue to heal the world. The question is… what does that mean?
Thanks to the amazing Tzvi Freeman for the inspiration behind this post. And to the amazing parallels that exist in the world… like the simultaneous lessons and inspiration from Deepak Chopra. What is clear is that we as humans can and must make a difference. This is why we were created and why we are on earth.
Freeman explains in his article “Six Myths And Facts About Tikkun Olam” the story of the creation of the world is told in the Book of Genesis, and that the story concludes that G‑d created all this “to be perfected.”“There, too, it tells the story of how the first human beings were placed in the Garden of Eden “to work it and to protect it.” Human beings are assigned the task of gardeners and guardians of G‑d’s world, an enormous responsibility.”
“Judaism has always stood for the power of the human being to affect his world, even to the point of arguing with G‑d. We were not placed here as passive objects in our Creator’s hand. Rather, He endowed us all with free will to choose between destroying His world or partnering with Him in to perfect it.”
I used to feel guilty about questioning or even arguing with G-d, but I quickly realized that as long as I was having these conversations, I was still very much connected to Hashem and even when I had some doubt, I was still filled with faith.
“In the sixteenth century, Rabbi Yitzchak Luria, “the Ari,” developed this idea further, describing how our thoughts, speech, and action create unity in higher worlds, elevate divine sparks and harmonize the shattered fragments that make up this world. He called this both tikkun and birurim (refinement).
“Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi, perhaps the most significant writer of early Hasidic thought, developed this idea of tikkun further. He saw it as a continuation of an ancient Midrashic idea—that G‑d’s ultimate concern is with this lowly world of action in which we dwell. Our job is to perfect this world and allow it to be the place it was meant to be—a masterwork whose Creator is supremely manifest in its every detail.”So there it is. As difficult as it may be to understand, we… human beings… are here with the idea and intention and task of perfecting the world. And yet… how far away from this do we seem to be now? We are so divided. The world seems so much more broken and scarier.
“In recent times, the Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory, described how we are at the final stage of our mission in this tikkun, at which we must seize the opportunity to elevate and perfect every aspect of the material world in whatever way is permissible.”
From my point of view, it seems like we are moving backwards… much further away from the final stage. One need only look at the tremendous rise of anti-Semitism in Europe and right here in the USA. The Tree Of Life is still fresh and will continue to haunt us. So how do we get back closer the healing… to perfecting this world we were given?
According to Tzvi “tikkun olam truly means much more than fixing the world’s problems. Tikkun olam means to repair the way that our world conceals its divine beauty and thereby improve and perfect it, bringing it to the state it was ultimately meant to attain.”
He says that “Every mitzvah a Jew does affects the world at its very core.” And continues that “Whatever comes your way, big or small, is an opportunity dropped in your lap by G‑d Himself to repair and perfect His world. Any small act could be the tipping point that will turn the entire world around.”
This is, for me, something to hold on to… something to aspire to. This is my inspiration. When you are overwhelmed with life, when things seem overly daunting and too large to change, we can do one small act, one small mitzvah, and make a huge difference. For we never know what good will come of kindness, what amazing miracle will be created by a mitzvah. In this way, we must continually heal the world, and thus be continually in connection with Hashem, creating this world along side of him, working together and working as one. Echad.
Tikkun Olam is part repair, and a whole lot of creation. So grab the mitzvah tool box and climb that ladder. We can make this world a better place, with Hashem right by our side.