Tikkun Olam and Christian Ethics after the Holocaust

  • Robert A. Everett


The jewish concept of Tikkun Olam was first brought to my attention while reading the works of Gershom Scholem and Emil Fackenheim.1 As a Christian, I have found this theme to be extremely useful for theological reflection. Tikkun Olam conjures up a powerful image of the world torn apart by injustice, hatred and violence being knit back together through the acts of men and women seeking to restore the image of God in the faces of their brothers and sisters, as well as restoring creation to its divinely sanctioned holiness and wholeness. Fackenheim’s image of a Tikkun mending up a rupture in history is one of the most important theological concepts produced in contemporary religious thought. In considering the quest for social justice in relation to the doctrine of creation, I believe this Jewish theme needs to be borrowed by Christians in order to broaden their search for a viable social ethic, which avoids both an excessive privatization of faith and moral quietism and the danger of confusing ideology with the essentials of faith. In this sense, both conservative and liberal Christians would be well served by the concept of Tikkun Olam. This paper is a preliminary meditation on how this concept can be appropriated by Christians for their own theological reflection.


Social Justice Human History Human Existence Jewish People Christian Tradition 
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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 2001

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  • Robert A. Everett

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