Tikkun Olam, Tikkun Hanefesh, and Mental Health

There is an important concept in Judaism called Tikkun Olam. Tikkun Olam is a Hebrew phrase that translates to repair the world.” Many Jews practice Tikkun Olam because they believe it is our responsibility to make the world a more peaceful place. Two popular ways of practicing Tikkun Olam are giving tzedakah (charity) and performing acts of kindness.

Another popular Jewish belief regarding Tikkun Olam is that the work of repairing the world begins with repairing the soul. This is another Jewish practice called Tikkun Hanefesh. Tikkun Hanefesh is a Hebrew phrase that translates to repair the soul. It is believed that as Jews, we have an obligation to keep our souls healthy. One common way to assure that your soul stays healthy is taking care of your mental health. Many Jews practice Tikkun Hanefesh by practicing yoga and Jewish meditation. Other ways you can take care of your mental health are spending time with your friends and family, practicing a new hobby, and making sure you’re getting enough sleep.

Tikkun Olam and Tikkun Hanefesh are very interconnected. When we take care of ourselves, we can repair the world, and when we are fixing the world we are also fixing ourselves. That being said, it is a Jewish belief that by practicing Tikkun Hanefesh, or by taking care of yourself, you will be able to go out into the world and help others. When helping others, or when performing Tikkun Olam, you will also be able to learn new skills and feel more connected to those around you, which can help your mental health. 

Although Tikkun Olam and Tikkun Hanefesh are not mitzvot in the Torah, they are very well-known Jewish beliefs and traditions that have been used for centuries to improve mental health and help the Jewish community. 

Word Bank

*Jewish meditation – Special meditation practices that are practiced to feel a stronger connection with G-d. These practices are sometimes accompanied by Jewish prayer. 

*Mitzvot(plural)/Mitzvah(singular) – Mitzvot are Jewish commandments. They are the religious obligations and duties that are commanded by G-d in the Torah. There are 613 mitzvot for Jews to perform.

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