Magazine article Tikkun


Magazine article Tikkun


Article excerpt

Before the Kiddush (the first blessing over the wine). We are gathered here tonight to affirm our continuity with the generations of Jews who have kept alive the vision of freedom inherent in the Passover story. We proudly affirm that we are the descendants of slaves-the first group of slaves in recorded history ever to wage a successful rebellion against their slaveholders. Ours was the first historical national liberation struggle, and the prototype of many struggles that other nations would wage against those who oppressed them.

There are others who would have done their best to forget their humble past. Other peoples saw themselves as descendants of gods or of superhuman heroes. We are proud that our people. held to a vision of itself as a slave people and has insisted on telling its story of liberation as the central founding event around which its culture was built.

Ruling classes have traditionally tried to convince their subjects that domination is inevitable, built into the very structure of the universe. The Jewish people's Torah, telling the story of our liberation struggle, has been a perpetual thorn in the side of these ruling classes. Not only was our very existence a proof that the world could be changed, but every Passover, and every Sabbath, we insisted on recounting the story and drawing the lesson: The way things are is not the way things have to be; the world can be radically altered.

The constant recounting of our quest for freedom has predisposed Jews throughout the ages to support the liberation struggles of other oppressed groups. While there have been Jews in every age who thought that they best served the interests of our people by currying favor with the powerful and allying with them, most Jews have rejected this strategy and instead have sought ways to ally themselves with the oppressed.

Judaism has always insisted that spiritual and social transformation go together. Tikkun, the healing and repair and transformation that we seek, is not just a matter of politics, but of changing our inner lives, recognizing God in the world around us, in each other, and in ourselves. We need time to develop our inner spiritual lives. But tikkun is also about transforming the social world. And the Seder is not primarily a time for personal healing, but for world healing. So, like Jews of yore, we discuss concrete politics with all its complications and potential disagreements-recognizing that, as Jews, we cannot be satisfied with spiritual liberation that leaves the political and social inequalities of the world in place, the suffering of others unchanged.

Yet our concern is not only with economic inequalities, but with spiritual oppression as well. Most Americans learn their concept of what is "realistic" and how to treat other people from their experience all day in the world of work. We live in a society that teaches us to see every other person as a mere means to the satisfaction of our own personal needs or to our own success. The logic of the competitive market teaches us that "looking out for number one" is the common sense of the modern world. As market values permeate our society, every relationship is weakened, because people begin to relate to each other in terms of what they can get from each other. This instrumental attitude undermines our ability to see each other as created in the image of God. …

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