Secular liberal Jews have hijacked the term tikun olam (repairing the world) to promote agendas of secular social justice and environmentalism. Irrespective of the worthiness of these agendas, this is not the meaning nor the intention of the term tikun olam. The term comes from the Aleinu prayer which we recite three times a day, and is a central theme of Rosh Hashanah:
לתקן עולם במלכודת שדי means to repair the world by its accepting the supremacy of Hashem’s Governance, a very different idea.
As I experience the hours before Rosh Hashanah in Jerusalem, breathing in the palpable atmosphere of Kedushat Ha’aretz (the sanctity of the land), I am struck how the challenge to Israel is not from the military threats of its neighbors and Moslem population. The existential threat to Israel from secular liberal Jews is a much more serious one. This group of Jews cannot possibly find any moral justification for the existence of Israel other than its military conquests which is unacceptable to them. They have joined hands with liberal non-Jewish groups and nations to undermine the integrity of the State and its right to exist. Confusing their own subjective morality with God’s Governance, they threaten the very foundation of our national existence. We have to claim our role as ambassadors of the government of Hashem, this is our purpose as a nation, this is our right to Israel.
The gathering of over eighty Heads of State in Jerusalem on Friday for the funeral of the late Shimon Peres was an unprecedented occurrence and it had a prophetic and almost messianic flavor to it. At the time of the highest level of anti-Israel sentiment since its founding, these leaders came to Jerusalem to honor one of the founders and icons of the State of Israel. They heard hespeidim, listened to Kaddish and Avinu Malkeinu and participated in an orthodox service in full view of millions of people around the world.
This honor was due to a synthesis of two elements. Firstly, Mr. Peres grew into the only leader today who, in a time of light-weighted moral and intellectual leadership, espoused wisdom and insight wherever he went. His peers valued him and respected him hugely. Secondly, Israel is becoming an increasingly important global player in countless different arenas. The world begrudgingly knows this. No other country of Israel’s size has ever played so important a set of roles in the world and so they didn’t feel it was beneath them to make the journey to Jerusalem.
However, coming to Israel to bid farewell to a wise man is not the same as coming to Israel in the quest of wisdom. Israel is more than a memory of the past; it is a beacon to the future. Rosh Hashanah is a time we look to the future, we envision, we dream, we plan, we undertake growth and development, we commit. Rosh Hashanah is a time we think not only of ourselves but of our communities, of the nation and of the world. The events of last week give us the impetus to turn Israel into the place people come for moral guidance and for wisdom. Israel, the Jewish People and each Jewish individual can become ambassadors to the world, of the Kingdom of Hashem. When the guidance and wisdom people come to find from us is the guidance and wisdom of the Torah then Israel and each of us will stride into this predestined Jewish role and begin לתקן עולם במלכודת שדי.