Tikkunim V: Improvements
We have already mentioned our mission statement from Aleinu: “Litakkein olam b’malchut Sha-ddai,” – “To amend the world through God’s sovereignty,” to establish that an essential part of our Rosh Hashanah service, and therefore, also of our Elul preparations for Rosh Hashanah is “Tikkun Olam.” We have seen that the Talmud sees far more than “Repairing the world,” in Tikkun, and that “Tikkun” also hints to approaches that can affect Tikkun as repair. (See Fixing I, Fixing II, Fit For A King, Tikkunim IV.) I would like to explore another form of Tikkun:
The men of Be-Hozae once claimed a sum of money from Abimi the son of R. Abbahu, who sent it to them by the hand of Hama the son of Rabbah b. Abbahu. He duly went there and paid them, but when he asked them, ‘Return to me the bond,’ they replied. ‘This payment was made in settlement of some other claims.’
He came before R. Abbahu [to complain] and the latter asked him, ‘Have you witnesses that you have paid them?’ — ‘No’, he replied. ‘Since’, the former said to him, ‘they could plead that the payment was never made, they are also entitled to plead that the
payment was made in settlement of some other claims.’
What is the law in respect of the agent’s liability to refund? — R. Ashi replied; We have to consider the facts. If he said to him. ‘Secure the bond and pay the money’ he must refund it; [but if he said.] ‘Pay the money and secure the bond,’ he is under no obligation to refund it.
The law, however, is not so. He must refund it in either case, because the other may well say: ‘I deputed you to improve (LiTakkein) my position, not to make it worse – Ketubot 85a
We do not need to find something broken in order to affect Tikkun: The Talmudic selection above applies Tikkun to anything that can be improved, “I appointed you to improve – LiTakkein – my position. Tikkun is not limited to making amends for our mistakes; it is approaching even the best of my efforts with a commitment to improve.
A world that reflects the “Sovereignty of God,” is a world that has infinite potential for growth and improvement. This form of Tikkun is to view everything we do as having infinite potential for growth. It demands a deep appreciation of the power latent in the hands of those who join in the Coronation of the King and declare their mission statement, “Litakkein olam b’Malchut Sha-dai!”
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