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Perspectives from Jewish Liturgy and Biblical Sources
The concept of Tikkun Olam (repairing, improving, or perfecting the world) has pervaded Jewish thought throughout the ages. Though the actual phrase “Tikkun Olam” is seldom found explicitly in Jewish sources, it remains the heart of Judaism authenticated. Modern movements in Judaism often embrace their particular understanding of Tikkun Olam as the principle or ideal that the Jewish community can best embrace to contribute to the betterment of modern society.1 The defining characteristic that most Jews consider when they think about this belief is improving and engaging humanity to achieve higher social, moral and ethical standards. While these issues are indeed important to the notion of
American Reform Judaism has interpreted the classical concept of Tikkun Olam in light of Jew’s modern participation in modern politics. “American Reform Judaism, which has put most of its religious eggs in the Tikkun Olam basket, as secular Jewish agencies such as the American Jewish Congress, National Jewish Community Relations Advisory council, and the like frequently point to Jeremiah 29:7 as a mandate for Jewish political involvement. Amazingly however, even Reform Judaism now admits that this perspective on social improvements with regards to Tikkun Olam draws heavily from the liberal Protestant tradition of the social gospel. Halakhic perspectives on Tikkun Olam naturally vary throughout rabbinic sources. To what extent Jews should actively engage the world is a complicated question, a question whose answer or answers has naturally been shaped by the tragic saga of Jewish history. There is one agreement between halakhic sources, and that is of the Noachic or Noachide laws. The seven Noachide laws (or better said the seven categories of Noachide laws) reflect from rabbinic exegesis the basic morality which G-d demands of all humanity. David Shatz, Tikkun Olam (Aaronson: Northvale, 1997), p164.
archaic or perhaps even ethno-centric in our day and age. It is simply to recognize that Tikkun Olam cannot stand on these concepts alone. to turn all of the earth’s wicked to You.2 The biblical and liturgical traditions.Rabbi Juan Bejarano-Gutierrez Siegal College of Judaic Studies Tikkun Olam. “May we soon see your mighty splendor. The longing for all humanity to serve G-d is a theme. to remove detestable idolatry from the earth. which ultimately formed the earliest strata of this amorphous concept. it is that man has not progressed to higher standards of behavior. and false gods will be utterly cut off. The perfecting or improving of the world thus centers on the adulation of G-d as king over all the earth. however. Then all humanity will call upon your Name. a critical aspect of it is often lost.3 The Al Ken longs for the day that Israel may see G-d’s splendor in the removal of idolatry from the earth as the Hebrew states “taken olam b’malchut sh’dai . The third component and the subject of this paper can be best illustrated by the prayer appended to the end of the Alenu. Tikkun Olam ultimately derives and owes its existence to three key components. The first two deal with the physical and spiritual restoration of Israel. which explicitly uses the phrase Tikkun Olam and therefore serves to best define this elusive concept. If history has taught us anything.to perfect the universe through the Almighty’s sovereignty”. They bear out the ideas. to perfect the universe through the Almighty’s sovereignty. man’s disposition most often gravitates toward a degenerate state. every tongue should swear…and to the glory of your Name they will render homage. All the world’s inhabitants will recognize and know that to You and every knee should bend. which is also The purpose here is not to in anyway diminish the importance of these much-needed improvements. reflect a perspective that may seem somewhat idealistic. The Al Ken is among the few sources. and they will all accept upon themselves the yoke of Your Kingship that you may reign over them soon and eternally…” 3 2 2 . both repositories of Jewish thought and history throughout the centuries. On the contrary.
69. 6 How is Tikkun Olam Realized? It might be asked how such lofty goals are to be achieved. [but] when Adam sinned. be near to Hashem. our G-d. each day’s need in its day. Hashem will reign for all eternity. Let everything that has been made know that you are its Maker…and …proclaim’ Hashem. the Shechinah retreated to the lowermost heaven. “ The Y’Hi Chavod in the Shacharit for Shabbat states that “…the heavens will be glad and the earth will rejoice. The Torah was given in public. they will proclaim among the nations. in various eschatological minded prayers in the liturgy for Rosh Hashanah and Succot. which I have supplicated before Hashem. reveal Yourself In the majestic grandeur of Your strength over all the dwellers of Your inhabited world. 66:19 Rabbi Abba b. be exalted over all the world in Your splendor. 25:6-9. tend them and elevate them forever. May these words of mine. 27:1. In the Hoshiah prayers from the Hoshanah Rabbah liturgy. the “enthronement” and the dissemination of the knowledge of G-d as king over all the earth and its inhabitants.” Also cross reference Isaiah 2:1-4. 4 Restoration according to these prayers requires the elimination of idolatry. but they rejected His advances towards them. Hashem has reigned. that He bring about justice for His servant and justice for His people. There are several Midrashim that allude to the idea that in the past G-d did reveal Himself to the nations. the God of Israel. we read “Save your people and bless Your heritage. is King and His kingship rules over everything.Rabbi Juan Bejarano-Gutierrez Siegal College of Judaic Studies affirmed. is to restore and return both Israel and humanity to the primeval knowledge of G-d as originally experienced in creation and in Gan Eden. ‘ Hashem has reigned!’ Hashem reigns.5 The ultimate goal of Tikkun Olam then. for all to see. Israel. Was or is G-d expected to miraculously reveal himself to each and every nation as he did to Israel? Or does Bnai Israel form an integral part of G-d’s view of Tikkun Olam?7 During the Mussaf service for Shabbat on the first day of Rosh Hashanah. Kahana said: Originally the Shechinah was in the earthly world. the following prayer is recited after the Alenu and before the Hayom Harat: Our G-d and the G-d of our forefathers. reign over the entire universe in Your glory. ( BR 19:7) The Ariel Chumash (Jerusalem: Ariel: 1997). that all the prophets of the earth shall know that Hashem is G-d and there is no other. For 7 6 5 4 3 . in the open. by day and by night.
an expectation that Israel will serve to “save” or illuminate mankind to if it had been given in the Land of Israel. in public. Therefore the Torah was given in the wilderness. let him come and receive it. confirms the view that G-d’s desire for perfecting the world includes at its core. ultimately by G-d himself though Israel’s ongoing history serves as the medium. Israel would have said to the nations of the world. recited by many congregations as a preliminary prayer for the Maariv service on Shabbat. in the open. 8 I Chronicles 16: 8-36. You have no share in it. Psalm 67.”8 The psalm culminates with adulation and praise concerning G-d’s majestic nature and subsequently calls upon the nations to abandon idolatry and to render homage. and a mincha offering to the one true G-d.Rabbi Juan Bejarano-Gutierrez Siegal College of Judaic Studies Israel’s History and Experience Speak to the World The true knowledge of G-d is spread among mankind. and everyone who wishes to receive it. yea he is awesome of above all gods. G-d’s covenant with the Patriarchs is recounted and as well as G-d’s deliverance for the people of Israel in the wilderness. glory. The Psalmist declares that Israel should “…Proclaim his deeds among the people…” The passage continues with a charge to Israel to recall G-d’s wonders by communicating His glory among the nations. The psalmist proclaims “…great is the L-rd and exalted in praise. The portion of the Shacharit service entitled Pekudei d’Zimrah or alternatively as the morning Zemirot/Psalmody includes a passage from the book of Chronicles. (Mechilta 15:26) . for all the gods of the heathen are idols. for all to see. 4 .
Israel’s repentance eventually lead(s) not only to restoration for its own sins but also serves as a catalyst for the nations to acknowledge G-d’s hand in history. Nations will be glad and sing for joy. all of them. May G-d bless us and may all the ends of the earth fear Him:” The argument in Jewish thought has centered on the question of how much if.9 In the Psalm. may G-d. the peoples will acknowledge You. The prophetic tradition in Judaism bears witness to the fact that Bnai Israel has not always walked faithfully in accordance with the Torah covenanted at Sinai. any Jewish participation in teaching or accountability for Gentile violations of the Noachic laws exists. Selah. a psalm a song. O G-d. the early and late rains. may He illuminate His countenance with us. The peoples will acknowledge you o G-d. I will provide grass for field for you cattle and you will eat and be satisfied.then I will provide rain for you land in its proper time. The Kriat Shema makes it clear that Israel obedience of Torah would ensue with great reward: “And it will come to pass that if you continually hearken to My commandments that I command you today. The Rambam took what appears to be the minority position among the Hachamim that Jews as well as Gentiles are indeed responsible for insuring that the Noachic laws are observed to the best of their ability. While Jewish history obviously points out the limited role especially in post-temple times that Jews can play in perfecting the world. the siddur ultimately holds out the expectation that Jews will draw the nations to the knowledge of G-d. The majority of the sages maintained a position that required Jews to be ready to respond to the inquiries of interested Gentiles concerning what laws are applicable to them and how best to observe them.Rabbi Juan Bejarano-Gutierrez Siegal College of Judaic Studies monotheism.” It is quite clear then. (Deuteronomy 11:14)” 10 5 . Israel asks G-d for favor and blessing that it may “make known Your way on earth. you wine and your oil. O G-d. does find considerable support throughout the siddur. To make known Your way on the earth. in my opinion. and to serve Him. The earth has yielded produce. This position though not necessarily corroborated explicitly within liturgical sources. to love Hashem. upon Neginos. bless us. however. The peoples will acknowledge You. In Israel’s “For the Conductor. May G-d favor us and bless us. as the Kriat Shema reveals10. all of them. even Israel’s punishment and seemingly unending tragedies do not preclude the goal of Tikkun Olam from being realized. among all the nations Your salvation. that the Psalmist expected G-d’s blessing upon Jews to serve beyond any self –serving purpose. among all the nations Your salvation. the peoples will acknowledge You. your G-d. The majority position espoused by later authorities such as the Rama rejected this view on the premise that no such halachic obligation existed. with all of your heart and with all of your soul. 9 In Israel’s punishment the nations would see G-d’s judgment. Furthermore. that you may gather in your grain. because You will judge the peoples fairly and guide the nations of the earth. Amazingly. G-d would be sure to provide for Jews without restraint. our own G-d. Selah. If Jews observed the mitzvoth as revealed at Sinai. the nations would stand in awe of Israel’s Torah and in turn of Israel’s G-d.
Biblical and Liturgical Perspectives of Tikkun Olam Amazingly the siddur not only contains passages which openly support the view that Tikkun Olam centers on directing mankind to G-d. Jewish liturgy bears witness to these key concepts by appealing to several recurring themes. I Chronicles sets the stage for Israel to proclaim Gd’s glory among the nations by recounting His splendid and redemptive works.Rabbi Juan Bejarano-Gutierrez Siegal College of Judaic Studies restoration. Psalm 126 (Shir Hamalot) recited at the commencement of Bircas Hamazon reflects this idea that the nations will understand the hand of G-d in Israel’s historic and ongoing redemption. show us a token of good and gather our dispersed from the four corners of the whole earth. 11 In the same manner. It does so by recalling and revealing Gd’s desire of recreating and replicating a “Gan Eden” like experience in each of G-d’s redemptive acts for Israel. merciful Father. 12 6 . mercy. Then shall all the nations know and acknowledge that Thou L-rd art our Father. but it also contains a series of passages that serve to elaborate on Tikkun Olam. the nations would recognize G-d’s intervention. 11 When Hashem will return the captivity of Zion. we will be like dreamers…Then they will declare among the nations “Hashem has done greatly with these. As we saw. the prayers entitled the Tahanut L’Shacharit (penitential prayers) according to the custom of the Spanish-Portuguese custom further illustrate this insight by appealing to G-d for redemption from the four corners of the earth.” Our Father. the nations would see G-d’s power.12 The nations seeing the restoration of Israel would consequently acknowledge the unique creator. As a consequence. and power.
Each theme however is inevitably linked to the previous concept.Rabbi Juan Bejarano-Gutierrez Siegal College of Judaic Studies Among them are G-d’s involvement and sovereignty in creation and Israel’s redemption from Egypt and encounter with G-d at Sinai. Israel’s deliverance from Egypt strikes at the heart of Tikkun Olam as we saw in the Al Ken. that I may multiply my signs and marvels in the Land of Egypt… And the Egyptians shall know that I am the L-rd. The second group of these events we might suggest is a replica. The book of Exodus informs us that G-d hardened the heart of Pharaoh with an ulterior motive: “But I will harden Pharaoh’s heart. The Exodus from Egypt had two noticeable purposes. which is often overlooked. The first purpose was to create a people that having experienced bondage and servitude as well as ultimate redemption would understand fully G-d’s love for them through His miraculous deliverance. when I 7 . Each act of deliverance or redemption recalls the past and attempts to establish or re-establish the previous state of spiritual and physical existence. as we shall hope to see of the first event. G-d’s Redemptive Acts Produce Acknowledgement among the Nations G-d’s deliverance of Israel from Egypt serves to further illustrate the goal of perfecting and restoring the world through the knowledge of G-d. There is a second purpose however. It was to demonstrate to Egypt the supremacy and nature of G-d above and over the gods of Egypt.
The siddur contains various passages that serve to remind Jews daily of the redemption from Egypt. as we shall see. The history of Israel reveals the stage on which the existence of G-d and his image bearing into creation is made manifest. Daniel 9. Mi Kamocha/ Nora Tehilot. G-d had acted deliberately in creation on behalf of his chosen people. 15-19 Daily Shacharit – Spanish-Portuguese tradition. The Genesis accounts of G-d’s sovereignty were being played out before the nations. (Joshua 2:10-11)” It would seem therefore that G-d’s deliverance for Israel ultimately caused the nations of Canaan to confront the Divine reality. Kiddush.Rabbi Juan Bejarano-Gutierrez Siegal College of Judaic Studies stretch out my hand over Egypt and bring out the Israelites from their midst. the Canaanite nations responded with fear to Israel’s eventful history. 13 8 . we lost heart…for the L-rd your G-d is the only G-d in heaven above and on earth below. (Exodus 7:4-6)” When the armies of Israel under Joshua began the conquest of the land of Canaan. “For we have heard how the L-rd dried up the waters of the Sea of Reeds for you when you left Egypt…When we heard about it. preceding the Shemoneh Esreh. 13 Creation and the Perfection which Tikkun Olam Aims Vayomer Adoshem (Numbers 15: 37-41) as part of the Kriat Shema.
since creation Thou art One. in an ideal state free from the constant physical and spiritual distractions (i. G-d’s engagement with man in the garden reflected an intermediary state between the world of the Divine and the world. perpetually the work of creation…” Genesis bears out G-d’s sovereignty over nature. The Tanakh records of Moses that he talked with G-d as a man talks to his friend. as the Adon Olam states. G-d Thou art in this world.Rabbi Juan Bejarano-Gutierrez Siegal College of Judaic Studies As we mentioned earlier. a people hallowing Thy name…Blessed the one who hallows Thy name before mankind.14 G-d’s miraculous power and his uniqueness is acknowledged in the recitation of the Yotzer Ohr. Creation and Gd’s creative role in history is stressed. Thou wilt be G-d in the world to come. Indeed. It relates. more importantly. perhaps a greater preponderance toward the Yezter Hara) we encounter today. G-d’s initial engagement with man. Abraham. a key component of the liturgical tradition. Amazingly. “He creates light … and renews daily. not only created but connected with man. …Sanctify Thy name in this Thy world through Israel. and Moses are among the few individuals who could recreate even an aspect of Gan Eden. Personages such as Enoch. the chief of his creation without constraint or barrier. Adam alone-received G-d’s spirit amidst the grandeur of an array of celestial bodies that far exceeded that of any one person. it can be argued that the Ere Thy world’s creation One thou wast. This type of spiritual connectedness or an intimacy even remotely approaching this is certainly rare in the biblical tradition.e. the siddur highlights several recurring themes. They approached the creator in a manner that resembled and recreated what one might argue to be the perfect ideal reflected in Gan Eden. as we know it today. 14 9 . The King who was exalted in Solitude. since creation Thou wast.
” He is ultimately separated from what creation can perceive or understand. G-d’s kingship was 15 “Bring us back to You Hashem and we shall return. In Gan Eden man stood at the center of G-d’s creation. These angels proclaim the holiness of G-d. In our day and age what can we hope to learn of G-d? It is often asked how we communicate with what may seem unreachable or un-penetrable? Gan Eden is the answer or better said the goal at which Tikkun Olam aims. Master of Legions. Subsequently. physically and spiritually. Holy is Hashem. most importantly. as the Kedushah reflects is “Kadosh. His interaction with G-d. was close and personal. the Ineffable. Kadosh. In actuality it communicates the concept of separation and distance of G-d’s relationship with creation. Kadosh. G-d’s. Jewish liturgy communicates the challenge of mankind’s encounter to tangibly engage the Divine.” 16 10 . All “men” knew and served the creator. the whole world is filled with His glory.” (Etz Chaim following the Completion of the Torah Service) From the Titbarach. Gan Eden sheds light on one more important aspect. renew our days as of old.15 Gan Eden and Universal Knowledge of G-d The Blessings of the Shema for Shabbat16 relate to us that the angels stand at the summit of the universe ready to proclaim their reverence for G-d’s name. Holy. The Hebrew term for holiness is Kedushah. “…all of whose ministering angels stand at the summit of the universe and proclaim with awe…Holy.Rabbi Juan Bejarano-Gutierrez Siegal College of Judaic Studies picture of Israel’s history portrays G-d attempt to mimic or recreate his acts of creation reflective of Israel’s desire to return to previous days.
Blessed are you. Genesis relates to us the story of Noah and the great Deluge. Regardless of Adam’s sin. No other alternative was possible. the physical components of His presence were now not so readily perceived.Rabbi Juan Bejarano-Gutierrez Siegal College of Judaic Studies acknowledged by all.17 Though G-d remained involved in creation. G-d’s sole existence as both King and Creator was not open to question. This relates to the theme we saw earlier in the Al Ken concerning idolatry among the nations. Unfortunately as time passed. however. Adam’s subsequent “fall” and humanity’s gradual decadence had dire consequences. a point in history at which humanity became worshippers of graven idols. Abraham Encounters G-d: The Akedah 17 V’te’hezenah in the weekday Amidah reads “ May our eyes behold Your return to Zion in compassion. humanity found other forms to acknowledge as creator and as divine. 11 . The Divine presence or the Shechinah to some extent was removed much in a manner that closely resembles the way that the Shechinah was removed from Eretz Israel at the destruction of the First Temple. Hashem who restores His presence to Zion.
Who did it.and if thus we would fulfill our vocation as priests to humanity – what bliss there would be… Horeb.”…For I know him. the world was created on account of “reshit. raised above every injustice. which is termed reshit. as becomes the bearers of such a message…that the whole of mankind. enlightened anew and uplifted by our destiny and life. out of idolatry. that he will command his children and his household after him.89. Rabbi S. so should they among mankind uphold the vision of G-d and humanity and by so doing be a holy nation. in unity with us. What blessing could cause the nations to praise Abraham and his descendents? The Shema Concerning Abraham. It concludes with the familiar phrase rewarding Abraham’s unmitigated fidelity to G-d “I shall surely bless you … and all the nations shall bless themselves by your offspring. 12 . Abraham was called out of the land of Ur. While Genesis records the effective cause of creation. because you have listened to my voice. to do justice and judgment. the Akedah. Hirsch commented.R. recited daily in the morning Shacharit. the foundation was of this people was laid. Tikkun Olam (Aaronson: Northvale.” “on behalf of Israel. should.” It is also written in Genesis that through Abraham all the nations would be blessed. According to Rashi.” [Gen 18:18]…As the priest among the people. turn to the One and Only. Exodus in turn records the ultimate purpose or cause of creation. a return to the primeval relationship between Creator and creation. “When in the choice of Abraham. 19 Abraham’s search for G-d eventually leads to binding of Isaac. pronounced its significance: “ and in the shall all families of the earth be blessed. profaneness and hard-heartedness. which is. and they shall keep the way of the L-rd. 1997). no 613.” Rabbi Naphtali Zevi Yehudah Berlin relates that the purpose of creation was not fulfilled until Israel exited from Egypt and achieved their end purpose in illuminating the nations and causing them to arrive at the knowledge of the Gd of creation. G-d. p.Rabbi Juan Bejarano-Gutierrez Siegal College of Judaic Studies G-d’s interaction with Abraham18 and then with Israel opens a new chapter in human history. From this point forward G-d’s involvement in history through Bnai Israel strives for one purpose. 19 18 David Shatz. awakened by its own experience.
21 The Hakol Yoducha conveys G-d’s uniqueness as the architect of creation: “…You who forms everything.” Abraham and Sarah’s role in spreading the knowledge of G-d is well known in Midrash. The cornerstone of Jewish faith reads “ And you shall love the L-rd your G-d… V’ahavta et Adonai Elokekha. The G-d who opens daily the doors of the gateways of the East. Lekh Lekha 12. In Genesis. is another key topic found in the siddur. The Parting of the Red Sea: Liturgy Reflecting G-d’s Sovereignty in Creation The retelling of G-d’s miracles in creation and its interconnectedness to both the Exodus and Shabbat. It does not take too much effort for us to realize that G-d’s creative acts are well noted throughout the siddur. the ultimate provider of mankind.” Instead of “And you shall love the L-rd “ the new reading renders this phrase as “And you shall make Him beloved. Abraham reconnected men with the true G-d. G-d created 20 Midrash Tanhuma. a small yet pertinent glimpse of the connectedness present in Gan Eden. and splits the windows of the firmament. The Birkat hasher portrays in miniature G-d’s creative acts as recorded in Genesis. Abraham and Sarah fed hungry travelers and then directed their gratefulness to G-d. 13 . who removes the sum from its place and the moon from the site of its dwelling. and who illuminates all the work and its inhabitants.21 Israel attempts to proclaim man’s engagement of the Divine and relate his greatness.” How does the Shema inform us concerning Abraham’s gift to the world? Hazal’s commentary on this passage rereads “Vahavta” as “Ahavehu.Rabbi Juan Bejarano-Gutierrez Siegal College of Judaic Studies V’ahavta perhaps provides a clue. 20 For example.
Hashem created light and darkness. There as we noted previously. and His mastery over the earth and its produce. These actions are mirrored in G-d’s deliverance of Israel from Egypt. In Genesis. Now we will examine the miracle at the See of Reeds and parallel this with G-d’s role as creator in Genesis. He created the heavens by separating the waters from the waters. Israel’s encounter with G-d at Sinai and Israel ‘s eventual entry to the land parallels G-d creative acts in Genesis. and all that is in them.Rabbi Juan Bejarano-Gutierrez Siegal College of Judaic Studies the heavens and the earth. His mastery over the waters. 14 . He made dry land appear and placed man in the Gan Eden where He revealed his Presence to man. celestial or terrestrial. Who among all the works of Thy hands. the sea. The morning blessings proclaim daily G-d’s role as creator. can say unto thee. The splitting of the Red Sea. as the manipulator and master over nature: Thou art the L-rd G-d in all of the spheres of heaven above and on the earth beneath. what workest Thou?”22 Yashir Moshe: The Song at the Sea We mentioned previously that a partial acting out of Tikkun Olam’s goal may be seen in the redemption of Israel from Egypt. the earth. He interacted with man. “What does Thou. …Thou hast made the heavens. G-d’s creative acts are clearly seen in three key areas: his mastery over the celestial bodies.
23 The pillar of cloud. 25 The separation of the two camps by means of darkness and light reflects what the sages note about creation: “Darkness is not merely the absence of light. It prevented the Egyptians from benefiting from the illumination of the pillar of light. and the water was a wall for them on their right hand and their left. thus plunging them into total darkness. where it served a dual purpose. Meanwhile. The waters were separated and dry land was made to appear. who had been going ahead of the Israelite army. now moved and followed behind them. According to Hazal. 23 24 22 The similarity between the pillar of cloud hovering over Israel and the Divine presence hovering over the waters in Genesis 1:1 is striking given the description found in Hazal’s commentary concerning the Shechinah hovering over the waters as depicted in Genesis. the cloud (pillar) was placed between the Jews and the Egyptians. At G-d’s behest. If we agree to the similarity of these Spanish –Portuguese Siddur.Rabbi Juan Bejarano-Gutierrez Siegal College of Judaic Studies At the Sea of Reeds Tikkun Olam was being worked out by G-d. Exodus14: 19 relates that the angel of the L-rd caused a separation to occur between the Israelites and the pursing Egyptians. 372. within the cloud of glory stood the throne of G-d. “On this night. but a specific creation. the pillar of cloud.. and it came between the army of the Egyptians and the army of Israel. 9 The angel of G-d. What follows is an exact re-creation of the Genesis account.” Artscroll Chumash. He forms the light and creates darkness. Once again this parallels the Genesis account. 26 The account continues with Moses’ supplication to G-d concerning the next step to take. G-d intervened on Israel’s behalf by replicating his creative acts in Genesis. illuminated the night for Israel (Rashi) 26 15 . G-d separated 25 light from darkness. caused darkness to surround the Egyptians while the pillar of fire provided light for the Israelites fleeing. As in Genesis. Moses stretches out his hand over the waters and “Hashem moved the sea with a strong east wind all night…The children of Israel came within the sea on dry land. though not specifically mentioned in the verse. and the pillar of cloud shifted from in front of them and took up a place behind them. as is clearly stated in Isaiah 45:7.24 acting as G-d’s emissary or agent.
28 The Kiddush for Shabbat Evening continues this by calling Israel to remember G-d’s wondrous works. to make the Sabbath an eternal covenant for their generations. then Sinai replicates the height of Gan Eden. We have sought to argue that Tikkun Olam seeks to recreate creation with respect to the knowledge of G-d. “…The Children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath.Rabbi Juan Bejarano-Gutierrez Siegal College of Judaic Studies events then the logical correlation between Gan Eden is Israel’s journey to Sinai to meet G-d.27 Shabbat as a Memorial of the Exodus and Creation We should remember that the key aspect of Gan Eden was man’s encounter with G-d and the intimate dialogue that occurred between them. the foundation of Your dwelling place. Shabbat as the Torah relates. If the redemption at the Sea of Reeds replicated G-d’s miracles at Creation. But Shabbat does not simply serve as a reminder of G-d’s intimacy with Israel. Shabbat is Israel’s covenantal sign with G-d. In the midst of a world. Between Me and the Children of Israel it is a sign forever that in six days Hashem made heaven and earth. “face to face” just as Adam did. is a sign of G-d’s Sinaitic covenant with Israel. The Yashir Moshe. and they had faith in Hashem and in Moses. Indeed as the V’shamru states. Subsequently. Shabbat served as the primary tool by which Israel Israel saw the great hand that Hashem inflicted upon Egypt and the people feared Hashem. have made: the Sanctuary... on that day Hashem will be one and His name will be One. Central to Israel’s history and identity is the Shabbat. sung during the Shacharit service on Shabbat.Then Hashem will be King over all the world. that your hands established…For the sovereignty is Hashem’s and He rules over the nations. his servant…You shall bring them and implant them on the mount of your heritage. which denies the existence or supremacy of Hashem. my L-rd. recounts these events. which you Hashem. and on the seventh day He rested and was refreshed…” 28 27 16 . the song of Moses at the Sea of Reeds. Israel relates Gd’s uniqueness by recounting its history.
It was originally formulated with the view that Shabbat was to be likened to a queen that brought majesty into the midst of her subjects.but Hashem made heaven!” Psalm 97 continues this idea with a longing for G-d’s kingdom on earth to be established: “When Hashem will reign. Even in their anticipation of Shabbat several of these Psalms continue to relate the idea that Israel must communicate G-d’s glory among the nations. “When Hashem will reign nations will tremble…They will gratefully praise Your great and awesome Name. among all peoples. that Hashem is great and exceedingly lauded… for all of the gods of the nations are nothing.”29 From the Kabbalat Shabbat we turn to the prelude for Kiddush l’Shabbat where it states: 29 Psalm 99 17 .Rabbi Juan Bejarano-Gutierrez Siegal College of Judaic Studies might boldly proclaim the revelation of G-d to mankind. Psalm 96 proclaims “Relate His Glory among the nations. To observe Shabbat is to proclaim the sanctity of both the Creator and the creation.. The Kabbalat Shabbat service is primarily composed of several Psalms welcoming the onset of the Sabbath. His wonders. Shabbat not only serves to remind the children of Israel of G-d’s encounter with them at Sinai but as a memory of creation. the world will rejoice numerous islands will be glad.. …And all the people will see His glory. But the nations will not only see they will also gratefully praise G-d.
G-d blessed the seventh day and hallowed it. took pleasure in us. King of the Universe. All branches of Judaism most readily agree upon human 30 Mishnah Tamid 7:4 (Mussaf for Shabbat) The daily that the Levites would recite in the Temple was as follows: On the Sabbath Day they would say: A psalm. who has sanctified us with His commandments. Conclusion Tikkun Olam is indeed a complicated subject. Israel’s observance of Shabbat proclaims to the nations that the King of the universe contracted and covenanted with a people to relate his desire to fellowship with all mankind. because on it He abstained from all His work which G-d created to make…Blessed are You. Jews and Judaism certainly bear this responsibility. to the day that will be entirely Sabbath and contentment for the eternal life. which Tikkun Olam seeks to recreate. 18 . a remembrance of creation… Shabbat also serves as another model. order and restoration. Thus the heavens and the earth were finished. a song for the time to come.Rabbi Juan Bejarano-Gutierrez Siegal College of Judaic Studies “The sixth day. and with love and favor gave us His Holy Sabbath as a heritage. 30 Shabbat must be understood as a picture of both spiritual bliss and peace which echoes G-d’s original creation. On the seventh day from all His work which He had done. and their entire array. Shabbat is an island of rest. It certainly includes the idea of a divine partnership with humanity to make the world a better place. Israel’s history bears out this divine exchange between humanity and the struggle to know and sense who He is. Hashem our G-d.
Rabbi Juan Bejarano-Gutierrez Siegal College of Judaic Studies responsibility before G-d and his fellow man to live ethical and moral lives. 19 . Jews are charged with engaging humanity to reach higher standards. including Tikkun Olam. Indeed. But the ultimate goal of spreading the knowledge of the G-d of Israel as both king and creator must remain a central piece in Israel’s mission as Ohr l’Goyim. Nevertheless. modern society has invariably influenced Jewish thought concerning long held theological positions.
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