Monday, November 24, 2008

tikkun olam

the Jewish faith is full of quirks and oddities and incredible wisdom. those of us who consider ourselves "Christian," and call acts of kindness, compassion and generosity "Christian" behavior, should really rethink that whole thing. such acts are completely in alignment with Jewish belief ~ and the beliefs of many other religions across the world ~ who are the Christians to believe that we own such acts?
the Jewish people do a much better job at it than we Christians do.
or if they follow the tenets of their faith that I am familiar with, they do.

and where is this coming from, you ask? on cold weather days (and yoga tuesdays), I work out at the Jewish Community Center. not only is it housed in a beautiful facility, perched high on a northeastern slope of our city, but it is a community I feel part of. the people at the front desk know me, and I know many of my fellow early-morning work-out companions. like bunny, who has got to be in her seventies, who is there every weekday morning from 5 until 6. and nick, who is swiss, who loves to and lives to ski, and who is also a few decades older than me. some people I know only to wave hello and goodbye to, and then there are my biking buddies, bob and andy and now oz, who introduced himself to me last week. there are my yoga friends, and the other regulars who float in and out who make me feel part of something bigger than myself.
besides the community, something I love about the JCC are the signs they put up on walls and doors and bulletin boards, signs like "call your mother," and quotes from people whose mission is peace. they post notice of community events of every kind imaginable, and signs that encourage health and fitness and open-mindedness. "You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose." (dr. seuss.)
and then there's tikkun olam.

tikkun olam is sometimes referred to as the spiritual purpose of life: its literal translation is "world repair," which is made more user-friendly in the phrase, repairing the world. my JCC has a tikkun olam corner, where they collect blankets and coats to give to those in need, and food to give to the hungry. other collections and activities gather in this corner as well, and this "corner" is not truly a corner but alongside the wall you pass by as you enter into the facility. front and center, impossible to ignore. though these collections are but a small part of repairing the world, they are proof of a commitment to the practice.
some say that tikkun olam is both an inward and an outward process: not only service to those in need, what we call social justice, but also a service to the divine, through uncovering and freeing the light within us.
what a beautiful teaching, so full of wisdom and confidence and certainty.
along with yoga and some core work this morning I received a significant gift in those two words, tikkun olam. they resonate so strongly with me because I feel their importance and their necessity. if I could have just one wish granted, it would be that all of us on this planet be given an understanding of and a belief in the phrase tikkun olam.

today, may you find peace and comfort and continuing ways to liberate your inner light.

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