91 possible reasons you may decide to do more Tikkun Olam — part 1

Reasons Why You May Have Decided To Do More Tikkun Olam, In No Particular Order of Importance (Part I)

(Here are the first 41. The remaining 50 will be in a separate blog post)

I figure what good’s a clean house if your country’s radioactive?Homemaker, Barbara Howell, Wilson, NC (as reported in The Giraffe Gazette)

Realize that if you have time to whine and complain about something then you have the time to do something about it. Anthony J. D’Angelo, motivational speaker

There’s nothing earthshaking about writing that people act the way they do for a variety of reasons.  In fact, they are usually motivated by a tangle of thoughts and emotions.  This is true not only for “regular” life, but also for doing Mitzvahs and Tikkun Olam.  Fortunately, Jewish tradition teaches that a person’s reasons for doing Mitzvahs are secondary to performing the Mitzvah-deed itself.  As long as the Mitzvah is done in a manner that has the welfare and dignity of the recipient in mind, the Mitzvah itself is validated.

Below, in no particular order, is a long and still-partial list of reasons why you may have decided to do more Tikkun Olam.  Most likely, more than one of them is a source for your actions.  You don’t need to be Freud to know that for every person, the motivating factor for wanting to change the world is really a complex combination of motivating factors.

Obviously, the list is enormous.  The rule throughout is always whatever works best for you.  If it helps, make notations.  Start anywhere and skip around if that’s easier.  Or ignore the list completely.

I have most definitely missed many reasons which may apply to you.

I suggest making a check mark () next to any reason that resonates with you personally.  In this way, you can return to this list from time to time and have an easy reminder of your thoughts.

  1. It’s a Mitzvah; God wants me to do it.
  2. Doing good is a Mitzvah.  It makes me more Jewish, and I want to “be more Jewish”.
  3. I heard about the Jewish idea that I could be God’s partner in fixing the world.  In my finer and more humble moments I said to myself, “I like that.”
  4. The spiritual aspect of Tikkun Olam greatly appealed to me.  I wanted more depth and sensitivity in my Jewish soul which I felt I had neglected for too many years.
  5. I met a Mitzvah hero and was inspired to go out to do something.
  6. The Jewish People is under assault by rabid and frightening anti-Semitism. Some attacks are blatant, some more subtle. Rather than sit idly by and say, “It’s always been that way”, I said to myself, “I am going to do something about it.”
  7. Doing that part of my Tikkun Olam work which benefits Jews is an absolute necessity. The Jewish People needs my efforts.
  8. My daughter’s Bat Mitzvah Mitzvah project so impressed me, I gave it my full moral, psychological, and financial support. I even said to myself, “I am surprised how much I was taken by my child’s enthusiasm…and by my own support.”
  9. I kept hearing people talk about the wonderful charitable work of terrorist gangs such as Hamas. Something seemed terribly wrong about this kind of thinking. Most outrageous was the fact that too many journalists wrote about it with similar praise. Some, though they vigorously denied it, justified this terrorism with, “BUT look at what they are doing to provide food and medical services.” Their egregiously misplaced values severely violated my sensibilities. I was horrified that “right-minded” people could say and write such morally repugnant words. Equally appalling, were the “right-minded” people who read the articles, nodded their heads, and thereby, in a way, agreed with the terrorists. I said to myself, “I am going to take these people on and disabuse them of their flawed ethical thinking because it leads to more unspeakable suffering. If I don’t, more people in Israel may die in terror attacks.”
  10. My friend’s brother was having a cup of coffee with classmates in a café in Jerusalem. He was horribly maimed when a homicide bomber blew himself up nearby. While I had been reading reports about terror attacks for a long time, I had only gone so far as being appalled at the obscenity of the bombings and sympathy to the victims. This changed radically when “it hit home”: The War was no longer something distant and abstract. It became very real, and I knew I had to do something about it.
  11. I began to think seriously about when I would face The Almighty in The Next World and would have to account for my life, what would I have to show for it?
  12. I want to leave the world a better place than when I came into it.
  13. When I came across Maurice Sendak’s quote, “There must be more to life than having everything”, I began to think about what human beings can really call their own in Life.
  14. I reached a point in my life when I realized that TV is TV and movies are movies…but Real Life is Real Life. On TV and in the movies, those who suffer or die for unreasonable reasons get up when the scene is over and go back to their Real Lives. In Real Life, those who suffer or die for unreasonable reasons are really suffering or dying. If I could help it, I wanted to make certain that this wouldn’t happen to anyone any more.
  15. The line, “I was sad I had no shoes until I met a man who had no legs” struck a very deep chord in me. When this came to mind as if out of nowhere, I began to seriously consider just how fortunate I am.
  16. I got tired of people mouthing the lines, “That’s just the way Life is” and “The world never changes and there’s nothing you can do about it”. Then I got angry. Then I decided I ought to do something about it to prove that they were wrong.
  17. A certain person in my community, a fine person, a Mensch, who was very involved in Tikkun Olam passed away. I realized that someone had to carry on that person’s work. I said to myself, “I can be that person.”
  18. While I do not recall specifically what might have brought it to mind, I realized that some Tikkun Olam had to be done now, and to wait until tomorrow, this afternoon — or even another 0 minutes — would be disastrous.
  19. I have always suspected that I could make a bigger difference than I have in the past.
  20. My life changed on September11, 2001, and I want to do something about making the world a better place. I want to do everything to show that terrorist monsters will not win out.
  21. The evils in the world have eaten away at me for years. All manner of things bad, morally ugly, and unfair tore at my soul. I thought about this again and again, and talked about it over and over again, until I decided I had to act on it. The moment of revelation came when I heard myself saying to myself, “Enough! This has got to stop, and I am going to stop it!” Now I feel that I want to make a significant, even possibly a formidable, change so that these terrible things will not continue to happen to others.
  22. I have never been “good at” philosophy and cannot understand Ultimates such as The Meaning of Life. I need something much more concrete. My intuition tells me that doing Mitzvahs may give me a sense of meaning.
  23. After years of receiving a salary for my work, I like the idea of doing something without being paid. I want to get a better “feel” for what it’s like to do things with absolutely no expectation of reward or thank-you. Doing more for the pure goodness of it, and because it is the right thing to do, makes me feel very good.
  24. After a few years of gnawing discontent and disappointment with my job, I began to look ahead to retirement when I could hope for something more soul-satisfying.
  25. I sense that, as I get more involved in Tikkun Olam, I will meet many wonderful people. The thought of having this new and marvelous chevra really excites me.
  26. I like the feeling that I can make things happen.
  27. I always keep a light on wherever I sleep. As far back as I can remember, I have been afraid of the dark. I don’t want others to have that fear. Whether the dark is real or imagined, no one should have do go through what I felt as a child.
  28. I kept seeing advertisements on TV to join the army. The clever tag line was, “Be all that you can be”. I began to wonder if I really am all that I can be. Being involved in Tikkun Olam might be at least a partial solution to my unsettling gut feeling that I have not lived fully because I have not engaged sufficiently in Tikkun Olam.
  29. I finally decided to listen to my mother, who kept nagging me, “Quit your whining!”
  30. I have always liked — and welcomed — challenges. Tikkun Olam-type challenges really appeal to me.
  31. I have always liked doing things that others said couldn’t be done.
  32. My parents always wanted me to be a doctor, but I chose some other field of endeavor, and now I really want to go out and save as many lives as I can.
  33. I have read that doing Tikkun Olam is good for my health. I am told that when I do Mitzvahs, endorphins and all kinds of other good chemicals start flowing through every cell in my body.
  34. I like to feel good about myself.
  35. I want to feel good about myself.
  36. I became old enough to realize that if I wanted a “new me”, it would take more than a whirlwind trip to a half-dozen clothing stores.
  37. I have been in academia for my entire career. I really do believe in the importance of academic studies, pure research, and theoretical inquiry. Still, deep inside, I began to feel that my academic pursuits were too divorced from real life, and that I was living in an ivory tower. Now I want to be more seriously involved in the everyday struggles of individuals to live a Menschlich life. I really want to do things so that others will be afforded every opportunity to experience life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
  38. I (my spouse, child, parent, friend) was once seriously ill. I was extremely impressed with how many people came together to take care of me (them), and how beautifully and gently they related to me (them). As a result, I decided to try, in some way, to do something for others with the same gentle touch.
  39. I (my spouse, child, parent, friend) was once seriously ill. I was disappointed at how few people came together to take care of me (them). As a result, I decided to try, in some way, to do something so that this would not happen to others.
  40. I like working with people.
  41. I like making others happy, even for a few moments. It makes me happy.

(The remaining 50 will be presented in a separate blog post — part 2)

About the Author
Danny Siegel is a well-known author, lecturer, and poet who has spoken in more than 500 North American Jewish communities on Tzedakah and Jewish values, besides reading from his own poetry. He is the author of 29 1/2 books on such topics as Mitzvah heroism practical and personalized Tzedakah, and Talmudic quotes about living the Jewish life well. Siegel has been referred to as "The World's Greatest Expert on Microphilanthropy", "The Pied Piper of Tzedakah", "A Pioneer Of Tzedakah", and "The Most Famous Unknown Jewish Poet in America."
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