To Heal the World? | Book Review

To remember

  • Tikkun olam = Hebrew for “to heal or to repair the world.” = popular catchphrase among left wing American Jewish rabbis + social activists >  ancient teaching of Judaism =>religious foundation for their politics.
  • Jonathan Neumann concludes in To Heal the World that it isn’t = argues  tikkun olam provides a religious covering for a political ideology: “social justice” arrived via non-religious means.
  • “Social justice = political philosophy advocating redistribution of income + wealth + other property in order to achieve economic egalitarianism
  • social justice includes an agenda of permissive social policies that leave lifestyle questions to the discretion of individual + promotes gender diversity
  • attitudes + policies associated predominantly with today’s left-wing political parties
  • perceive social justice through prism of intersectionality
  • To Heal the World doesn’t offer a comprehensive critique of social-justice policies => deconstructs notion that tikkun-olam-as-social-justice bears any necessary relationship to Judaism = social justice scheme promulgated by the Jewish left “corrupts Judaism + endangers Israel”
  • 18th + 19nth centuries, European Jews began to experience increasing freedom from legal restraints + social prejudices that had hitherto been placed on their communities by Christian states. => shed particularistic rituals of traditional Judaism + emphasize Judaism’s universalistic ethics (Kantian)
  • postwar America > commitment to universalistic ethics > expressed as tikkun olam.
  • Reform Judaism’s relationship to traditional Judaism critical from the beginning > at its inception to distance itself from Judaism as it had been practiced historically.  + universalizing mode rendered Jewish particularism highly problematic, including its longings for Zion.
  • In early to mid-twentieth century, Reform Judaism rethought both these points, + sought to root its thinking in Tanakh + to give qualified support to the nascent Jewish state.
  • Jewish Left’s use of tikkun olam = problematic. > tikkun olam itself “never meant what American Jews now understand the term to mean.”
  • tikkun olam/social justice Judaism problematizes very existence of Jewish identity > moral themes derived from sources other than the Bible.
  • Social justice has no need for Jews > involves their very dissolution into rest of humanity.
  • Jews ancient heritage something unique to say = particularism for sake of universalism, > precedent deep in Bible + Jewish tradition = through  Abraham’s offspring all nations on earth will be blessed
  • leftwing Judaism and tikkun olam parallel with liberal Protestantism + “Social Gospel.”
  • Reform Judaism drew part of its inspiration from Social Gospel movement. => question whether relationship between Social Gospel + traditional Christianity is as biblically + theologically problematic as th relationship between tikkun olam + traditional Judaism.

+

Preceding

Where our life journey begins and inheritance of offices of parents

Second core value of Conservative Judaism opposite use of native tongue in Reform Judaism

A Secret of our Enemy :Inter-Ethnic Fault Lines Among the Jews

Marranism or the Invisibles

Surprise: Ashkenazi Jews Are Genetically European

Advocacy is Fundamental to Reform Judaism

+++

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GeorgePWood.com

Tikkun olamis Hebrew for “to heal the world.” It has become a popular catchphrase among leftwing American Jewish rabbis and social activists. According to them, it is an ancient teaching of Judaism, and therefore a religious foundation for their politics.

The only problem is that it isn’t. At least that’s what Jonathan Neumann concludes in To Heal the World. He argues that tikkun olamprovides a religious covering for a political ideology that has been arrived at via nonreligious means. And that political ideology is “social justice.”

Here’s how Neumann defines that political ideology:

“Social justice is a political philosophy that advocates the redistribution of income—and sometimes even wealth and other property—in order to achieve economic egalitarianism…. In more recent decades, social justice has also come to include an agenda of permissive social policies that leave lifestyle questions to the discretion of the individual and promote gender diversity…

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