Tikkun in Lurianic Kabbalah

In contemporary parlance, tikkun olam refers to repairing the earthly world in which we live but in Luria's teachings, complete tikkun would undo the world we know.

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2) The material world as we know it, as was the case with the gnostic myths of late antiquity, is deemed repugnant, evil, inhospitable, opposed in every way to that which is immaterial, divine light and the soul.

3) The project of human life is to separate the holy from the material world, and thus divest that world of all existence. All existence will return to its original spiritual condition, a state synonymous with the messianic age. Lurianism is thus, again, like the gnostic myths of an earlier time, a complete rejection of the world as we know it, and of the historical process. The vision of redemption is a fundamentally spiritual one in which all things return to olam ha-tikkun [literally "the world of repair," that is, a world restored to its perfect status before intra-divine catastrophe and before human sin]. Thus, the tikkun of which Lurianic Kabbalah speaks is not that of this world, but of "worlds" beyond it.

4) The responsibility for bringing all this about is a human one, not a divine one. Divinity is, in effect, a passive beneficiary of the actions of human beings.

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Dr. Lawrence Fine

Lawrence Fine, Ph.D., teaches Jewish studies at Mount Holyoke College. He is the author of Safed Spirituality (Paulist Press) and Physician of the Soul, Healer of the Cosmos: Isaac Luria and His Kabbalistic Fellowship (Stanford University Press).