I have always maintained that the Jewish concept of “tikkun olam” has been altered by the “progressive” Jewish community, seeking to substitute left-wing, feel-good activities for actual Jewish practice and ritual.
The concept of tikkun olam traditionally focused on mitzvahs and good deeds within a narrow Jewish parameter.
Tikkun olam — “repairing the world,” has metamorphosed into a list of activities more likely to be endorsed by the Democratic Party than grounded in any Jewish tradition. Tikkun Olam has degenerated into a quasi-spiritual free for all of whatever “progressive” Jews say it is.
One popular focus of current tikkun olam activity is the environmentalist movement. “Save the Whales” resonates more within the Jewish community than “Save the Jews.” While a disastrous tide of assimilation, intermarriage, and declining birth rates is immediately impacting the Jewish community, most Jews are more concerned that polar bears will float off into the non-sunset on broken icebergs.
Alas, I do have to grudgingly admit there is one environmental activity that is definitely both environmentally important and at the same time is a cornerstone of Jewish religious practice.
We were recently gifted a beautiful handmade bat house. We are going to install it on our property. By doing so, we hope to provide a home for bats, whose habitats are stressed by an increasingly urban environment as well as misunderstanding of these amazing creatures.
Bats are crucial to the well-being of the environment. Not only do they consume a prodigious amount of insects, but they are important pollinators. Without bats in the environment, our world would have a significant insect problem, and many important plants would not be able to successfully reproduce.
And while many environmental activities that are labeled tikkun olam have little or no basis in Jewish tradition, the care and protection of bats has had a long and glorious tradition within Jewish theological practice.
But how can that be? Installing a bat house is no more Jewish than saving the whales or ending the pollution of streams and rivers, or saving the Polar Bears. What is so Jewish about installing a bat house on one’s property?
Come now. Hasn’t everyone in the Jewish community heard of celebrating… a Bat Mitzvah?