Rabbi Dror’s Responses to Online Questions about Jewish Values

What sacred text is prophetic vision contained in, as well as where is the concept of tikkun olam (repair of the world)?

The Hebrew Bible, which is composed of the Five Books of Moses, the Prophets, and the Writings, contains a written record of prophetic vision from ancient times.  Regarding the nature of prophetic vision and its translation into what we know as the Biblical text, see Abraham Joshua Heschel’s book, God in Search of Man.  Despite differing interpretations regarding the nature of prophecy and of prophetic vision, the common thread that unites our understanding of prophecy is that prophetic vision reminds us that God cares about the world and about human beings.
Tikkun olam, as we understand it today, means that as we incorporate acts of loving-kindness and of social action in our daily lives, we are in fact partnering with God in the on-going process of Creation.  It involves our working toward the eventual fulfillment of the vision of our prophets; a vision of a world filled with knowledge of God, a world filled with holiness, justice and peace.
The world is a work in progress.  Accessing the inspiration of prophetic vision, we are reminded that by our actions we can take part in increasing the blessings of holiness, justice, and peace in the world.
Just as there are different understandings of the nature of prophecy and of prophetic vision, so too, throughout history there have been different understandings of the phrase “tikkun olam.”  From a phrase originally denoting the goal of communal stability and order, tikkun olam has evolved to our current usage that denotes a sense of responsibility to engage in social action in an effort to repair the world.  See Jill Jacobs’ article: “The History of Tikkun Olam” for a more detailed description of the evolution of phrase “tikkun olam” from its post biblical, second century origins, and up to modern times.

Answered by: Rabbi Gilah Dror