Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Meta-Tikkun, or Hope for the Hyphenated

People with hyphenated last names, admirers of Vashti, and keepers of eco-kashrus have a notion that there is mitzvah, or at least a precept, called "Tikkun Olam." There is even a "Tikkun Olam" blog. Avi Shafran in the Jerusalem Post addresses this popular delusion:
There are indeed 613 mitzvot, or commandments, in the Torah, but none of them is tikkun olam - a phrase that, of late, is as frequently invoked (Google reports 226,000 references) as it is erroneously defined . . .

Redefinition of time-honored Jewish words and concepts, unfortunately, is nothing new. "Torah" and "mitzva" and "halacha" (Jewish religious law) and "observance" have all fallen victim to Jewish Newspeak. But there is a particular irony to the trendy twisting of tikkun olam to refer to the issue du jour of the politically progressive.
He goes on to point out one of my favorite facts: the Rambam uses a variation of the phrase "Tikkun Olam" in a discussion of extra-judicial killing! The article has already evoked a negative reponse here.

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