“Tikkun Olam” Defined


When Isaiah 49:6 says that Jews are to be a light to all nations, would that be via Tikkum Olam? I know it means repairing of the world and that many Jews believe it’s best implementation is via social justice. However, as the saying goes: “The road to hell is often paved with good intentions.” Social justice movements such as feminism have been rightfully criticized for doing more harm than good. Also, some of these organizations have turned out to be charity scams, making the repairing more like damaging.

But, if Tikkum Olam is the way that Jews are to be a light to all nations, then how can it be applied without doing damage to the world?



  1. There is a recognizable minority of people in the world today who truly aspire to the secular version of “Tikkun Olam” – living their lives according to a moral code. However, the Torah concept of Tikkun Olam, which appears in the classic Jewish sources, is not really what the world today is referring to. To them, “Tikkun Olam” means to ensure, for example, that there are no starving children in Africa.

    The Jewish concept of Tikkun Olam does not negate the need to try to eradicate poverty and sadness from the world, but it is not going to be done just by going to Africa. Tikkun Olam means working on ourselves to refine our personalities and characters, becoming the best people we can be. This means that Tikkun Olam is a Jewish concept that should be used to help each person within the Jewish nation to become closer to God and to themselves.

    Best wishes from the AskTheRabbi.org Team