What is the Mitzvah of Tikkun Olam?
Mitzvah can be translated as Commandment. It can also be translated as connection, from the Aramaic root, tzavta, to connect or join. Mitzvot have the potential to connect us with God, with other people and with the best within ourselves. Mitzvot are the ways in which we clothe our values in behavior, the performance of good deeds, gimilut hasadim and tzedakah.
Tikkun Olam is all about performing such deeds as a way of repairing the world.
So how does one decide what to do, who to give to, whether it is money, time or resources? Danny Siegel, a leader in the world of Jewish giving offers these questions to ask yourself when deciding how to give:
- What bothers me about the world so much that I really need to change it?
- What do I really like to do?
- What am I really good at doing?
- Who do I know?
- Why not? As Rabbi Tarfon wrote: “It is not your responsibility to finish the work (of perfecting the world), but you are not free to desist from it either.” Pirkei Avot Chapter 2; Verse 16
Using the answers to these questions, the goal is to figure out, is there an organization that fits? Is there a Jewish or Israeli organization that fits? What is the Jewish value? How do I find these organizations? If there is not an organization, then what?
About Beth David’s Tikkun Olam Team
Beth David’s Tikkun Olam Team meets regularly to make sure our community engages in this important Jewish value. During our meetings we plan and calendar our own tikkun events or make sure we engage in community Tikkun events. If you’re interested in joining the team please email us.
Organizations to Help Decide Where to Donate
Once you’ve decided upon on an organization, it is time to find the Jewish value. Even if the organization is not specifically Jewish or Israeli does not mean that it does not support a Jewish value. The following sites provide Torah text and Talmud sources:
Organizations That do Tikkun
Friends of Yad Sarah – Providing compassionate home & healthcare services
Hazon – Sustainability is a Jewish Value
Innovations Africa – Bringing Israeli Solar & Water Tech to African Villages
Jacob Richman’s Listing of Israeli Non-Profits – Extensive List!
Jewish National Fund– Plant Trees in Israel
Jewish Family Service Silicon Valley – Centerpieces for Tzedakah
Kulanu – Supports Isolated, Emerging & Returning Jewish Communities Worldwide
Leket – Rescuing Healthy Food for Israel’s Needy
Mazon – A Jewish Response to Hunger
There are websites that in some way rank the organizations and list the percentages to overhead. A really good organization is one that gives 85% or higher to the cause that it serves.
Organizations that Need Volunteers
Most often children will need to be accompanied by an adult guardian