Why does Tikun Israel precede Tikun Olam?

I was recently asked at a talk that I gave why I emphasize the need for Tikun Israel to precede Tikun Olam. Here is part of my answer to the question: “Rav Salantar taught – first one fixes his house, then his community, then the world, and so on… I am extremely proud of the work Jewish organizations and movements have committed towards healing the world – Tikun Olam. I’m proud of the American Jewish World Service, the Reform Movement (that has made healing the world their top priority), the Israeli Government (who sends aid relief for disasters taking place around the world), and every other initiative out there focused on healing the word, yet my concern today is the Jewish People, the People of Israel. There is enough information out their reflecting a serious decline in synagogue and communal affiliation, identification with Jewish Peoplehood and responsibility one for the other (Kol Yisrael Arevim Zeh B’Zeh – All of Israel is responsible one for the other), the disassociation of young American Jews with Israel (the state) and the disengagement of Israeli Jews from their brethren across the globe. There’s more to it, but this is just part of the reason my focus is on healing “my house and then my neighbor’s house”. For 2,000 years we wondered the earth, kicked out, discriminated against, and of course experienced genocide that led to 6,000,000 of our People murdered, and now that we find ourselves at a place in history where we aren’t experiencing what our ancestors and families on sixty five years ago did, a time in history when we have self governance and determination, still we find that our people are bleeding at an alarming rate (whether it is assimilation or disassociation, lack of education or ignorance – take your pick). Sure it is important to help others, it is even more important to help ourselves – first. If we cannot help ourselves how on earth can we fulfill our greatest potential for Tikun Olam? If our numbers continue to decline and the bridges connecting world Jewry are not strengthened there will be no Tikun Olam. I sometimes use that analogy when flying on a plane: “if the oxygen masks are released – put it on yourself first, then assist a passenger traveling with you who may need help”.
Too many have forgotten from where they came and as a result do not know where they are going. Tikun Israel has already begun through the efforts of grass roots projects, organizations and major initiatives. It is what birthright Israel, MASA, Independent Minyanim, Study Centers, and countless other initiatives are trying to do. We know the ball’s been dropped, we’re trying to pick it up – and in the process – are figuring out what we do with it. God willing our children will write that chapter of our narrative.
There is more coming reflecting this movement of self-healing, Tikun Israel, more background information, historical context and vision for moving forward is on its way!

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