Tikkun Olam by Lisa Burkhardt Worley

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair (Isaiah 61:1–3, NIV).

It is still difficult to shake the heaviness that has hovered over me since the Hamas attack on Israel October 7th. Last night I attended a Shabbat service at our church, and as the speaker, German-based Messianic Jewish leader Vladimir Pikman, described the emotions he has been feeling over the past few weeks, tears began to roll down my face, because he verbalized what has been going on in my head. I asked myself, Is it fear that is causing me to feel this way? While there is some fear, I realized my emotion is more about the burden I feel to do something to fix what is going on. The tears released some pressure because it more pervasive than what I or anyone can handle alone. I am overwhelmed.

In Jewish culture this need to repair the world is called “Tikkun Olam,” and in Jewish teachings it is any activity that improves the world, bringing it closer to the harmonious state for which it was created. Tikkun Olam is a mindset that many Jews possess, and while I only have patrilineal Jewish descent, I know this overwhelming desire to repair what is broken is a part of my Jewish DNA. God has given me a heart to help broken women, but also to fight the unjust persecution of the Jewish people.

We know that Jesus, a Jew, embraced Tikkun Olam. In Luke 4, at a Nazareth synagogue, Jesus reads from the prophet Isaiah and proclaims that these words were spoken about him. “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (Luke 4:18–19, NIV). This is Tikkun Olam! However, in that same Isaiah passage, it also said that Jesus will comfort those who mourn and will anoint us with the oil of joy rather than mourning. He will give us a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.

No matter what is going on in our lives, we do not have to remain in the heaviness. This morning I asked the LORD to anoint me with His oil of joy and I immediately felt lighter. Yet, the calling of Tikkun Olam remains, and I am praying about what I can do to make a difference. I know divine direction will come in God’s perfect timing.

[1] https://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/3700275/jewish/What-Is-Tikkun-Olam.htm

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