The Zelman Partisans recently received an inquiry about liberal Jews and tikkun olam.
Y.B. ben Avraham addressed this back in 2014:
Gradually setting aside their fundamental belief in Torah, and longing for Geula, many Jews focused on secular, social action, to satisfy their ingrained drive for Tikkun Olam. After many, many centuries of exile, poverty, suffering, and death, many thought the Enlightenment (and the Jewish variant; the Haskalah) was the correct path. Perhaps, they thought, ‘this’ was the way to bring about the coming of Moshiach?
For all that I pen many of the columns here, I am not a Jew. Faith comes hard to me; even a belief system that has successfully maintained an identity for thousands of years. Nonetheless, I admire the strength of will that maintains in the face of adversity, and I see things that have happened to Jews as a cautionary tale; what has been done to one group — the Shoah, for instance — can be done to any other group, if they do not stand fast. And I admire the Maccabees for… standing fast.
Nor am I a scholar. But allow me to make a go of it.
Tikkun olam: “repair of the world”
Repairing the world, as best I understand it, meant helping, making wrong things right, fixing. In short, being part of the greater community.
Without abandoning the Jewish community.
It seems to me that tikkun olam has been twisted into forcing the world into Orwellian right-think, including the modern practitioners’ own minds. Not repair, but forcible redesign even of that which works. Which means they are abandoning thousands of years of faith that sustained their ancestors through tribulations difficult to contemplate.
Faith is hard. I think many modern, liberal Jews found it too hard, and gave up faith for form, in favor of conformity. Forced conformity, so they don’t have to work too hard at that either.
What then will sustain them now?
Ed. note: This commentary appeared first in TZP’s weekly email alert. If you would like to be among the first to see new commentary (as well as to get notice of new polls and recaps of recent posts), please sign up for our alert list. (See sidebar or, if you’re on a mobile device, scroll down). Be sure to respond when you receive your activation email!