Skip to comments.The Tikkun Olam Pope
Posted on 04/02/2005 2:58:49 PM PST by SpikeMike
Like other outstanding spiritual and political leaders, Karol Wojtyla began his career as an actor.
Born with a talent for communication, an overpowering sensitivity and empathy for the human condition, steeped in a deeply religious Polish Catholic environment but surrounded by Jewish friends and classmates, he consequently embraced the moral imperative of transforming consciences according to his faith.
Indelibly branded spiritually by the Holocaust, by World War II and communist tyranny, he embraced his mission fervently as an opportunity to help heal the world. He might well go down in Jewish history as the Tikkun Olam Pope.
Run-of-the-mill priests can be identified by the quality of their voices. They have a holier-than-thou, desexed quality of resignation, devoid of of passions. Not so with Karol Wojtyla. An episode stands out in the rush of film clips the Italian media have spliced together, making a statement on his unswerving and radical values that have never bent to circumstances. During a speech in the 1980s in Agrigento, a fiery pope spewed forth with the fury of a Biblical prophet against Mafia men who humiliate and destroy the love of life so characteristic of Sicilians. The energy of his words revealed his physical and mental stamina and the motivation that has enabled him to survive the wounds of a near-mortal attack and a series of operations and illnesses with total lucidity and determination. This same energy was the source of his gentleness and tenderness in his endless personal encounters with the sick, the poor, the suffering and with youth.
A vision of human dignity and respect for the sanctity of life based on the biblical statement that humankind was created in the image of its creator made John Paul II not only a wielder of religious and political transformations, but also a man of dialogue with Judaism first, and secondly with other world religions. He willfully served as an enemy of all totalitarian ideologies and as a catalyst for the fall of communism in Eastern Europe.
A master of the use of symbolism, John Paul II systematically paved a path toward reversing a 2,000-year Christian tradition of theological anti-Judaism that was an underlying agent for European anti-Semitism.
During his first trip abroad, he visited Auschwitz. Stopping at the inscriptions listing the numbers of victims, he said, "No one can pass by here with indifference." While his theological positions have sometimes clashed with Jewish sensitivities (such as his reference to Auschwitz as a "Golgotha" of the Jews, implying that Jews were sacrificial victims of salvation rather than simply victims of evil), his intent of restoring full dignity to the Jewish people, religion and land, developed a steady crescendo throughout his papacy.
He furthered two soul-searching International Theological Colloquiums in the context of the Jubilee Year one on "Anti-Judaism in the Christian Milieu" and another on "The Inquisitions." They provided the basis for the requests for pardon for "the errors of sons and daughters of the Church" commemorated at the Vatican just before John Paul II's trip to Israel in 2000. During his Pontificate, several important documents on relations with Jews have been promulgated by the Pontifical Commission for Religious Relations with Jews.
It was his respect for Jewish sensitivity that led him in 1989 to intervene with a personal request to the Carmelite nuns in Auschwitz to transfer their convent out of the Nazi concentration camp. He himself had helped set up the foundation, The Church that Suffers, which helped finance the building of the convent, but when he understood the Jewish perception that the nuns' presence there, as well as a huge, neighboring cross, was "Christianizing" the memory of a genocide whose Jewish victims comprise approximately 90 percent of the total, he took the unprecedented measure. John Paul II received streams of visits by countless Jewish delegations representing the world's major Jewish organizations, and he never failed to meet with local Jewish communities during his endless travels. No pope before him had ventured to bestow such significance on Catholic-Jewish relations.
His visit to the Rome Main Synagogue on April 13, 1986 the first such visit in history was carefully planned to give both religious authorities equal space, despite the clear imbalance of their numeric following. After the initial embrace, Chief Rabbi Elio Toaff sat in an armchair side-by-side with Pope John Paul II.
A half-year after the pope's visit to the synagogue, he called for the first Interreligious World Prayer Day for Peace in Assisi. Separate but simultaneous delegations Christian denominations, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Shintoism, Zoroastrians, Native religions, the Jains offered their prayers for peace. This was another landmark in a universal dialogue for peace undertaken by the Polish pope.
The visual impact of John Paul II's visit to Israel has become iconic. The slow steps of a bent, white-cloaked pope advancing toward the Western Wall, the trembling hand slipping a written prayer into a crack, requesting forgiveness for the responsibilities of the church for the suffering of the Jewish people (from which he had tactfully eliminated the sentence, "in the Name of Christ our Lord", pronounced earlier during the Jubilee Year Day for Pardon in the Vatican) and the filmed ceremony at Yad Vashem have all contributed to promoting a more positive image of Jews among Catholics.
In 1992, Pope John Paul II proclaimed that "anti-Semitism is a sin against God and against man." Quite a contrast to when "Nostra Aetate" timidly stated that the Church "deplores" anti-Semitism but "not for political reasons" in 1965 or even before that, when official Vatican media published openly disdainful and even anti-Semitic articles.
And during the same years, Karol Wojtyla in Poland moved against the anti-Judaic culture of Catholicism. A well-known episode is the story of how, at war's end, Priest Karol Wojtyla of Krakow advised a Polish Catholic woman who had hidden a Jewish child to seek survivors of his family rather than adopt him and convert him to Christianity. That happened during the same period that Pius XII issued orders in France to keep baptized, or even unbaptized, Jewish children saved in convents and monasteries from joining Jewish relatives or institutions.
John Paul II's efforts to establish respectful religious relations with Jews and to combat anti-Semitism have gone hand-in-hand with efforts to reach out to Israel.
His recognition of Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state have been consistent and balanced by his recognition of the rights of Palestinians to coexist in a state next to Israel.
While the Vatican's first mention of "the State" of Israel dates back to October 1977 in a letter from Paul VI to then president Ephraim Katzir requesting the release of Hilarion Capucci held in an Israeli prison for arms-smuggling, the term was not used again officially until John Paul II's 1984 Apostolic Letter Redemptionis Anno in which he invoked for the "State of Israel" "a desired security and just tranquillity for the Jewish people, who in that land preserve such precious witness of their history and their faith." Had it not been for the Vatican Secretariat of State's fears for Christian minorities in Arab countries, the pope would have likely agreed to diplomatic ties between Israel and the Vatican long before the signing of the Fundamental Agreement on December 30, 1993.
While Israel and the PLO were negotiating in Madrid, the Vatican opened talks for diplomatic ties with the PLO.
For the past few days, Jews all over the world have been thinking of the pope with warmth, and many have been praying for his recovery.
The Rome Jewish Community has lived across the Tiber from the Vatican for 2000 years. The morning after the sudden worsening of the pope's health, Rome's chief rabbi, Riccardo Di Segni, led a delegation of Roman Jews to St. Peter's Square where they chanted psalms for the pope's recovery.
Later, during a press conference called at the synagogue just before Shabbat, Di Segni said "psalms belong to both of our traditions and are a very strong expression of prayer. Let's hope the pope's strong fiber will help him overcome even this crisis."
He spoke of the salient moments of this papacy in Catholic-Jewish relations and praised the pope for his commitment to "systematically promoting studies on Jewish-Catholic relations" and "creating a greatly improved atmosphere of dialogue, even if our theological positions retain their differences, albeit with mutual respect."
A precedent had been set on the eve of John XXIII's death, Di Segni recalled. At that time, Chief Rabbi Elio Toaff prayed at St. Peter's with three other Roman Jewish leaders. A more recent, international precedent took place last month during John Paul II's stay at the Gemelli Hospital. Approximately 30 rabbinical members of the World Union of Progressive Judaism led by Rabbis Mark Winer and Uri Regev gathered at the hospital's entrance to pray for him.
The silence of his absence will be very loud indeed.
This is a great testament to him. Thanks for posting it.
What does "Tikkun Olam" mean?
It refers to an obligation "to heal the world" beyond one's congregation. It is of course a Jewish concept, but in this sense it refers to John Paul II's reaching out beyond his church to build bridges to other faiths and to spread peace, respect, and understanding.
Bill Clinton has an interest in "Tikkun". He wrote letters to their magazine.
The Rise Of Tikkun Olam Paganism Steven Plaut Dec 27, '02 / 22 Tevet 5763
I have long had a pet peeve about the vulgar misuse and distortion of the Jewish concept of Tikkun Olam (repair of the world) by assimilationist Jewish liberals in the United States and elsewhere.
Elements of American Jewry have fallen captive to what can only be described as Tikkun Olam Paganism. Tikkun Olam Pagans are people who misrepresent Judaism as nothing more and nothing less than the pursuit of the liberal social action political agenda, all in the name of a suitably misrepresented Tikkun Olam. It is the banner waved by the countless "social action" committees at synagogues across America and in other liberal Jewish circles in support of liberal-leftist causes, including some that are harmful to Jews and some that are just plain wacky.
The Tikkun Olam Pagans` pseudo-religion consists of the following reductionist "theological" foundations:
1. Judaism in its entirety is essentially the advocacy and promotion of social justice.
2. Tikkun Olam means pursuit of peace, environmentalism and economic equality.
3. Justice, peace and equality are synonymous with this week`s PC liberal-leftist political fads.
Ipso facto, all of Judaism is reduced to the pursuit of being a nice liberal. Now, as it turns out, each one of the propositions listed above is totally false.
This Judaism-as-Liberalism form of reductionism is extremely common in the Reform synagogue (especially its misnamed Religious Action Center) and is universal in the Reconstructionist movement. It is popular among many Conservative Jews and even has its Orthodox advocates. A search for the term Tikkun Olam on the Internet will show you how near-universal is the equating of this concept with liberal "social activism." Even the far-left anti-Israel magazine Tikkun, published by "Rabbi" Michael Lerner, has misnamed itself after the concept. Indeed Tikkun magazine has even advocated the use of illegal psychedelic drugs by Jews and demanded that Jews understand Osama bin Laden`s "pain, " all in the name of Tikkun Olam.
The equation of Tikkun Olam with liberal political activism is so commonplace that it is recited as an ethical basis by many of the same liberal "social activists" who cannot recite the Shema prayer correctly, who practice no Jewish ritual, and have no idea of what any other concepts are in Judaism. For a nice laugh, ask some of these people to explain even one basic Jewish concept other than Tikkun Olam.
But a clarification is in order. Tikkun Olam does indeed play an important role in Jewish theology and ethics, but its meaning is nothing like that understood by the Tikkun Olam Pagans. Tikkun Olam, the "correcting" of the universe, has little if anything to do with things like social inequality, environmental cleanliness, and distribution of wealth and jobs. Rather, it refers to the Messianic era, when G-d`s laws will replace human laws, when G-d himself will be the acknowledged ruler, when all forms of idolatry will cease and all will turn their hearts to the One G-d. In other words, Tikkun Olam is a theological notion and not a trendy socioeconomic or political one. Tikkun Olam is mentioned in a major place in the Aleinu prayer that closes all prayer sessions, but again it is in conjunction with the wish to see idolatry and paganism erased from the earth. There is no mention of "social justice" or environmentalist issues, no gun control proposals and no AIDS marches. This will no doubt come as a rude surprise to Jewish assimilationist liberals. It is all the more ironic that Tikkun Olam is dredged up as underpinning for some forms of "activism" that are themselves little more than idolatry, such as the worshiping of trees, whales and nature in the name of "Eco-Judaism" by some radical Jewish environmentalists.
Even if one believed a certain amount of "social justice" could be squeezed under the Tikkun Olam theological umbrella, this would hardly justify the hijacking of the concept as artillery support for the liberal-leftist political agenda. At most, Tikkun Olam can only be conscripted as support for liberal social activism if one believes that this activism really promotes social justice. If it does promote social justice, then the incantations regarding Tikkun Olam are superfluous -- the "causes" are justified on their own merits. But does anyone today seriously believe that liberals and leftists only promote causes that are "socially just" and moral? Suppressing school choice and supporting Palestinian terrorism, affirmative action apartheid, and many other liberal causes promotes injustice and immoral outcomes.
The real issue is whether or not liberal political fads promote justice and peace and morality. And the only way to settle that question is to debate these "causes" analytically and on their own merits: Tikkun Olam has nothing to do with it. Analytic debate, of course, would require some training and study of social science, policy analysis, cost-benefits accounting, and history, and liberal poseurs are far too lazy for all that, preferring effortless ethical posturing and recreational compassion. They are much too busy patting themselves on their ethical backs.
To emphasize these points, let us state what is not covered under the heading of Tikkun Olam:
1. There is nothing in the Torah concept of Tikkun Olam that can justify government programs that take people`s private wealth and property away from them to help the poor. There is, of course, a Jewish religious precept requiring charity for the poor -- at least 10% of one`s income in two years out of seven -- but never to exceed 20% of one`s wealth, even if one is feeling ultra-compassionate. This charity, however, is privatized welfare and generosity, never state-run confiscation of property in the name of doing good. There seems to be rabbinic disagreement over whether government taxes that take away more than 10% of one`s income, especially to finance the welfare state, exempt one even from this 10% tithe. The only other biblically-mandated income redistribution involves supporting the Levites.
2. There is nothing in Tikkun Olam that can be considered to be a judgment holding that income and wealth disparities are evil in and of themselves. Wealthy people are expected to give charity to help the poor; the poor are expected to give charity to the poorer. No one is expected to give charity to those too lazy to work or who are poor because they are drunks or addicts.
3. There is nothing in Tikkun Olam that can be regarded as a condemnation of materialist desires and pursuits. Quite to the contrary, Judaism is not embarrassed at all about asking G-d to make us rich, such as in the Havdala prayers, where we ask for lots of silver.
4. There is nothing in Tikkun Olam that could be remotely regarded as justifying affirmative action programs that discriminate against Jews. There is nothing that can justify pursuing ethnic "equality" through quotas, through lowered standards and preferences, and certainly not through programs that give other ethnic groups preferences ahead of Jews.
5. There is nothing in Tikkun Olam that can be regarded as sanctioning homosexual relations. Indeed, the Torah makes these a capital offense.
6. There is nothing in Tikkun Olam that can be regarded as supporting the public school monopoly or single-payer health care system. People who want such things should have the intellectual honesty to come out and debate these on their own merits (if they have any), not by hijacking the concept of Tikkun Olam.
7. There is not even the tiniest inkling of a rationalization in Tikkun Olam for granting Palestinians or anyone else territorial rights within the Land of Israel.
8. There is no basis in Tikkun Olam for refraining from retaliating militarily against those who attack Jews.
9. There is no basis in Tikkun Olam for claiming that animals have "rights."
10. There is no basis in Tikkun Olam for refusing to acknowledge that human environmental goals must be traded off against other social and private goals.
11. There is no basis in Tikkun Olam for abortion on demand.
12. There is no basis in Tikkun Olam for opposing capital punishment for convicted murderers. To the contrary, the Torah explicitly endorses capital punishment for murderers.
A first giant step toward real Tikkun Olam would be the renunciation and discrediting of Tikkun Olam Paganism.
Like our Constitution, it seems to be considered by some to be very elastic; a "living document" subject to penumras and, yes, ever perversion to the opposite of what originally was intended.
I am confused by the direction that this thread has taken.
Was John Paul II The Tikkun Olam Pope? Or was he The Tikkun Olam Pagan? Where the hell does Bill Clinton fit into this whole mess?
Each article had some very good points.
God take into heaven your servant Pope John Paul II.
Your answer was in the first sentence of the article I posted, to wit:
"I have long had a pet peeve about the vulgar misuse and distortion of the Jewish concept of Tikkun Olam (repair of the world) by assimilationist Jewish liberals in the United States and elsewhere."
In line with his left-wing Marxist/Socialist leanings, Bill Clinton is an avid reader of Tikkun Magazine and wrote lots of letters to it. That's supposedly the "pagan" perversion of Tikkun Olam that the writer of the article is bashing.
You'd have to check with the writer of the article that is the title of this thread to find out if he's a subscriber to Tikkun magazine.
He was neither..
According to Mr. Plaut (post #5 ) there are those liberal/socialist jews that have corrupted the true meaning of Tikkun Olam.. (paganism) which is in direct contradiction to it's intent..
Thus, their description, and application, does not apply..
Where the hell does Bill Clinton fit into this whole mess?
"A search for the term Tikkun Olam on the Internet will show you how near-universal is the equating of this concept with liberal 'social activism.' Even the far-left anti-Israel magazine Tikkun, published by 'Rabbi' Michael Lerner, has misnamed itself after the concept."
Evidently Bill Clinton, being a liberal/socialist, (and a hedonist of the worst stripe) adhered to the Marxist philosophy of 'Tikkum' magazine...
So much so, that he was driven to write letters to the editor or contribute his socialist thoughts in it's pages..
Each article had some very good points.
I would agree on the idea that while the interpretation was in error, the intent to honor the late John Paul II was honorable, and done with the best of intentions..
But using Tikkun Olan to describe him was a mis-use of the definition.
He probably is... "Know Thy Enemy"..
"Olam" means "world." "Tikkun" I don't know for certain, I just know how I've heard the phrase translated.
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