Tikkun Olam represents a distinctive Jewish concept towards life that Unitarian Universalist share: The world can be made better by human action.
During our month-long exploration of Judaism in January, our middle schoolers explored Tikkun Olam which translates to, “repair or mend the world.”
The myth that frequently accompanies this concept is called, “The Shattered Vessels,” and as a potter it has always captured my imagination. In the myth, God who fills the universe, withdraws, or contracts to make space for the world to be created. The void that is formed is dark and empty and so God says, “Let there be light!” and ten vessels filled with God’s light enter the void.
The ten vessels, however, cannot contain God’s immense and overwhelming light and they shatter, sending a multitude of holy sparks across the void, forming our world. God creates humanity so that we may gather the holy sparks, which have been scattered across creation, and make them whole. Some believe each living thing contains one of the holy sparks, and our purpose here is to nourish and cherish each one.
My potter’s heart always envisions the broken and scattered pieces of the vessels, shapes smooth and jagged that must be found and collected before any repair can begin. What vessels in our world must be repaired so that all of our light can be held and whole again?
How can the systems that are meant to cherish and nourish us, our schools, governments, communities be repaired so that we can truly hold all that the beloved community needs to thrive? What pieces of the broken vessel can each of us find, collect, and use to serve the greater good, the light we all have and long to be made whole?
Help us all find out together during Religious Education in February, as we explore Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King’s concept of Beloved Community and look for the sparks in each of us.
Rev. Kimberlee Tomczak Carlson, Minister of Religious Education