Thursday, 3 January 2013

R AJ Heschel on Tikkun Olam

Guest Blogger
R Saul Berman
Tikkun Olam:

Before his untimely passing at the age of 65 on December 23, 1972, Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel shared with me the following Derasha.

He said that American Jewry was a community committed to three fragmented p'sukim.
a. They believe in "Shalach et Ami, the liberation of Soviet Jewry," without understanding that liberty without "veya'avduni" - without bringing the liberated persons to avodat hashem is not a great achievement.
b. They believe in "vese'esof galuyoseinu" without understanding that the creation of the State of Israel and the ingathering of the exiles without "lishmor chukecha, ...uleavdecha belevav shalem" - without striving for the spiritual life of Mitzvot, is not a full achievement.
c. They believe in "letaken Olam" without understanding that that repair of the total society without "bemalchut Shakai" - without shaping the community toward the embodiment of the Kingdom of God, is not an adequate achievement.

But at the same time, he said, fragmenting those pesukim in the opposite direction is also an inadequate fulfillment of the ratzon of Hashem. Therefore:
to achieve avodat Hashem without being concerned with the liberation of the enslaved;
to achieve the life of Mitzvot without the ingathering in Israel;
and to achieve the Kingdom of God in isolation from the the repair of the entire society (Letaken Olam) -
they also are failures in the wholeness to which we need to aspire.

Saul J. Berman»

Although R AJ Heschel was descendended from Hassidism I see this attitude as Hirschian.
Namely that OT1H one must never sacrifice Traditional Judaism on the Altar of Liberal Reform
Yet OTOH one ought not sacrifice our concern for society as a whole by locking the gates to the ghetto and shutting out the outside world.

This is part of Torah im Derech Eretz, that neither aspect is designed to compromise the other.

Best Regards,

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