Tikkun Olam: What Does It Really Mean For Us
The Jewish people have an important mission. For centuries, Jewish civilization has rev-olved around the concept of social responsibility. We are taught that our soul’s mission is to be a light unto the nations, and as Jews we feel an inst-inctive push to make a difference in the world and glorify God’s name. But how many of us consciously think this way on a daily basis? What important steps can we take to spread the sanctity of God’s name throughout the world by being more aware of how we act toward each other?
I take tremendous inspiration from my father, O”BM, M. Leo Storch. He lived and breathed the message of tikkun olam. My father lived his life with a mission of sanctifying the name of God. He was filled with integrity and always chose to do more than just “the right thing.” When a buyer for a building lot was unable to continue making payments my father told him “if you can’t use my lot I can’t use your payments” and returned every previous monthly payment to him. When county building codes were not adequate enough to ensure long-term safety and stability for a building, my father would go above and beyond what was required at his own expense. As a real estate owner, his tenants always knew that if they couldn’t pay the rent in time, my father would do what he could to extend the time in order to keep them in business. On many occasions, he would fund businesses to get them on their feet. My father went as far as borrowing money to donate to charitable causes that were in dire need of financial assistance.
While not all of us can become the giant that my father was, we can still contribute in our own unique and simple ways. We can make sure to always greet cashiers and other service people with a smile, a hello and a thank you. If a cashier hands us too much change, return it and show it’s important to be honest. We can care about others by handing out cold water on hot days or lending a helping hand to someone at the grocery store. We can give someone else a potential parking spot or hold the door open for someone behind us. Why not wish a passer-by a wonderful day or let someone go ahead of us in line? Random acts of kindness, even small and effortless, can have a tremendous impact on our world while shining a positive light on the Jewish people.
Most importantly, we need to recognize that the concept of tikkun olam, most popularly defined as “repairing the world,” has a deeper meaning. Hashem created a world that was inherently pure and whole, and we must do our utmost in our daily actions such as mitzvos, studying the Torah and continually working on improving our behavior toward others so that we can maximize the opportunities to bring honor to Hashem’s name.