Thursday, August 26, 2010

Yamim Noraim 5771, Part 3: Making Tikkun


Parshat Ki Tavo, 5770
Of the panoply of terms rabbis throw around, tikkun, being one half of tikkun olam, is one that has true saturation in the minds of Jews. Tikkun means “fixing,” and it has special relevance when talking about another one of those terms we throw around, teshuvah.

Teshuvah is a long process, beginning with the recognition of the need for change and the desire to effect it, and ending with our full internalization of that change into our lives. Within teshuvah lives the process of tikkun, in which we identify and engage in the right behavior that will push us towards the change we seek. Tikkun is the lever that moves teshuvah.

An example: during the first night of Shavuot, the celebration of the Giving of Torah, Jews stay up all night studying. This process is called a Tikkun Leyl Shavuot, “the Fixing of Shavuot Night.” So what is it fixing?

Rabbi Hanina said: In the third month the day is double the night, and the Israelites slept through two hours of the day, as sleep on the feast of Shavuot is pleasant, as the night is short. And Moses went forth and came to the camp of the Israelites, and he aroused them from their sleep, saying to them: "Get up! God desires to give you the Torah! Already the groom wishes to meet the bride and enter the marriage canopy (chuppah). The hour has come for giving you Torah!" Pirkei d’Rebbe Eliezer, 41 

It turns out that we overslept the Giving of Torah, which would be comparable to almost sleeping through your own wedding.

Only the Jews.

So every year we put in place a tikkun, a fixing, to prompt us towards greater presence, greater wakefulness to the wonder waiting for us in the morning. The challenge is for each of us to discover the tikkun for the change we wish to see: to know the lever and the fulcrum of our psychology, and then to shift the burden accordingly. Don’t waste time engaging in sisyphean endeavours; don’t despair if the method you’ve chosen isn’t working; before you start down the path of effecting teshuvah, make sure you find your tikkun.

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