The Jewish holidays are a series of spiritual stages for correcting our intentions. Their purpose is to mark our progress in correcting and diverting our egocentric ways into a more divine mode of behavior based on love & bestowal.
Can We Learn to Love Others?
Tikkun Olam, meaning the correction of the world, does not belong to any particular religion, faith or ideology. The correction is simply about learning how to bring humans closer to one another.
“According to the wisdom of Kabbalah, it is the role of the Jewish people to repair the world, by teaching the world to connect properly, offering an example to illustrate the oneness of all of creation to gradually lift the world to a state of sanctity.” Repairing A Broken World, Jesse Bogner
Here in Israel we are in the midst of an intensive month of Jewish holidays. The next one coming up is the most significant Jewish holiday of all. Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, is observed or at the very least acknowledged by practically every single Jew in the world. A symbolic trip to the synagogue is enough for the average Jewish person to check that off their list. But it’s no longer enough.
Whether you are aware of it or not, the entire world is looking to the Jews to fix what’s wrong with the world. When leaders around the world send Israel blessings for the New Year, they often mention the words Tikkun Olam (Correction of the World), which signifies our human responsibility to fix what is wrong with the world.
Whether we like it or not, all eyes are always on the Jews and Israel, to see what our next move will be. Will we continue to dominate the financial, business and entertainment worlds or has the party come to an end? The current storm in North Carolina is giving us a taste of how nature’s blows can reign in our egoistic ways.
Are we able to get the message with the waters of North Carolina swirling all around us? Or will we continue to shy away from our duty just like the Prophet Jonah tried to escape carrying out his role of telling the people of Nineveh that they need to repent their evil ways, meaning to change their relations from unfounded hatred to love of others.
The Spiritual Meaning of Jewish Holidays
“Yom Kippur atones for transgressions between a man and his fellow man only after he has placated the fellow man.” Mishnah Yoma 8:9
The Jewish holidays are a series of spiritual stages for correcting our intentions. Their purpose is to mark our progress in correcting our egocentric ways into a more divine mode of behavior based on love and bestowal.
These corrections enable us to enter into more and more positive connection with each other, and by doing so, experience a fuller, happier, more peaceful and harmonious world.
Yom Kippur customs such as fasting, and the prohibitions on bathing, wearing perfume and leather, and having intercourse, all symbolize the need to stop self-aimed reception for our own benefit. By restricting our desires in this manner we can start acting with an intention to benefit others, to bestow. Yom Kippur signifies the need to put ourselves aside and act for the sake of others.
We, the people of Israel, were born out of a general global crisis that took place in ancient Babylon. Abraham gathered a group that was focused on the correction of the world and we have been connected ever since, and actually since the beginning of time.
These corrections must come to the world through Israel, and are all about bringing love and bestowal to the world. However, Israel is not capable of carrying out its duty without the support of the nations of the world. Hence, the blessings we receive every year from world leaders.
If Israel does not carry out its spiritual mission, and if the world does not awaken the people of Israel, then the entire world will come closer to being in crisis. It is precisely now that we truly feel a need for a major shift when we see such a widespread and transparent level of suffering in the world.
Fixing What Is Wrong With The World
We must understand that the correction of the world will only come through connecting above our differences. This is the only way for us to have hope for a better future, instead of a threatening one.
In the words of the world’s foremost Kabbalist Michael Laitman:
“Tikkun Olam is a ripple effect process, spreading from the inside out. The Jewish people is essentially the first circle. They are a mini-model of humanity, a model of universal connection between people. That connection is destined to spread and shape the other circles around it.
At the peak of this process of Tikkun Olam, humanity reaches unity beyond borders, across the globe. That is, unity of the broadest circle that encompasses all of humanity – from world leaders to sheep herders in remote mountains. The correction must reach every man and woman and every boy and girl. Everyone is equal, everyone is important, there is no preference and no discrimination.
In our time, the first step towards Tikkun Olam is raising awareness around the globe to the need for unity. Every person in the world must recognize the natural, integral system that binds us and requires us to be considerate of each other.
The Jewish people carries the idea and must reawaken it. Its role is to be as “a light unto the nations,” by being an exemplary society. Today, the nations of the world also have a duty to awaken the people of Israel to its role as a catalyst for Tikkun Olam.
When masses of people consider the value of connection – even slightly – they create a tremendous wave of mutuality and consideration. The power of connection is greater than any individual, and it enables human society to rise above its narrow, egoistic nature to discover a vast space of happiness that stems from unity.
Tikkun Olam begins with Tikkun Adam (the correction of man). A tiny change of consciousness in each of us is all that is needed.
What is my hope for the Jewish Year that we have just started? That the world will push Israel to carry out its spiritual mission, to raise us all to a new level of consciousness where we understand our special role in the universe.
I pray that the Jews will be able to open their hearts and fulfill their mission in this world, while all this can still be done under pleasant conditions. We paid too high a price for getting our own country, and it is actually on loan to us from above, until we carry out our mission to connect the world.