With these cautionary considerations in mind, I would like to develop a working methodology to implement my Jewish social values project.
The first principle is articulated in response to the considerations raised by Halkin who, as we read in the previous post, warned of the tendency to adopt forced readings of Jewish texts to justify whatever view the writer had to start with. This warning corresponds to a major principle underlying our project. Whilst many Jewish social action groups engage in Tikkun Olam projects which are not rooted in any specifically Judaic notion of what it is that the world needs, our project begins with looking to the sources for guidance on these questions. This idea was articulated eloquently by Rabbi Saul Berman:
[T]ikkun olam does not just mean “repairing the world” on its terms. It does not mean simply determining what the world thinks it needs and then going out to help the world achieve its goals. For the Jewish community, tikkun olam must mean determining what needs to be repaired in the world from a Jewish perspective, and then going out as Jews to make those repairs.
Heeding R Berman’s advice should put us on a track that distinguishes our approach from that referred to by Halkin. The starting point of our research is in the sources themselves, not in the editorials of the national papers.
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