Progressive Tikkun Olam: The Union Assault on Repairing the World
Posted on March 2 2011 2:30 pm
Interestingly, the Rabbinic reason for why the Jewish nation came upon such a horrible fate is sinat chinam, “baseless hatred”. In the period leading up to the destruction of the second Temple in 70 CE, Jews in Judea were split into varying factions, many of which turned on each other in the midst of the revolt. Instead of being one unified force in the face of Roman occupation, these groups drew sides and formed alliances for varying religious and political reasons. This factional attitude put Israel on a path of self-destruction.
One Rabbinic teaching likens the nation of Israel to a unified body having distinct parts with their own unique purposes that work in harmony for the greater good of the nation. “Therefore, when we as individuals actualize our potential, every other individual is uplifted, as well as Jewish people as a whole.” Compare this to the attitude behind baseless hatred: “But a person who acts according to his inner conviction that he is correct will never admit his mistake. He believes that the other person or the government is wrong. What mistake is there to admit? He thinks that you are wrong, not him!” As a result, both “God and our fellow man” are stripped “of their singular importance in the world.”
In the midst of the Temple’s destruction, Israel’s factions put more faith in themselves than in God, and as a result, put their own religious and political priorities above the needs of the very people they claimed to be fighting for. (Sound familiar?) Consequentially, many individual lives were sacrificed in the name of collective callings.
Whether it meant fleeing from Egypt, foregoing Pagan behaviors, or seeking to overthrow occupying forces, for the collective of ancient Israel, enslavement to an oppressor or oppressing ideology continually trumped the freedom of individual choice. Contrary to today’s progressive spin on Tikkun Olam, the result of favoring the collective was not repair, but repeated self-destruction.
Thomas Jefferson once said, “A democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where fifty-one percent of the people may take away the rights of the other forty-nine.” When the collective is distributing justice, who is there to ensure that the collective is being just?