A discussion about “Tikkunim,” usually translated as repairs, got Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai into trouble:
R. Judah commenced [the discussion] by observing, ‘How fine are the works of this people! They have made (Tikknu) streets, they have built (Tikknu) bridges, they have erected (Tikknu) baths.’
Jose was silent.
R. Simeon b.Yohai answered and said, ‘All that they made (Tikknu) they made (Tikknu) for themselves; they built market-places, to set harlots in them; baths, to rejuvenate themselves; bridges, to levy tolls for them.’
Now, Judah the son of proselytes went and related their talk, which reached the government.
They decreed: Judah, who exalted [us], shall be exalted, Jose, who was silent, shall be exiled to Sepphoris; Simeon, who censured, let him be executed. – Shabbat 33b
Tikkun in this story does not mean to fix or repair.
It is interesting that the story concludes with Tikkun as well:
Since a miracle has occurred, said he, let me go and amend (Tikkun) something, for it is written, “and Jacob came whole [to the city of Shechem],” which Rab interpreted. Bodily whole [sound], financially whole, and whole in his learning.
“And he was gracious to the city,” Rab said: He instituted (Tikkein) coinage for them.
Samuel said: He instituted (Tikkein) markets for them;
R. Johanan said: He instituted (Tikkein) baths for them.
Is there ought that requires amending? Rabbi Shimon asked. – Shabbat 33b
The Talmud uses Tikkun as building, instituting, and fixing.
We must also note that Rabbi Shimon used Tikkun as a response to a miracle; he searched for something that needed repair as his acknowledgement and celebration of a miracle.
Elul, is a month of Tikkun. We generally think of its Tikkunim as repairing damage, yet, the Talmud teaches us that there are many forms of Tikkun:
We can use Elul to institute new practices for ourselves. Tikkun as instituting.
We can use Elul to build new things: We can participate in starting a new weekly class. We can participate in a building campaign for a new synagogue, school, or Mikvah.
We can use Elul as a time of repairs in response, not to our sins, but to the blessings and miracles we have experienced over the past year.
There is more than one form of Tikkun.
There is even more than one form of Tikkun as repair.
Let’s get to work.