A Time to Mend?: Halakhic Perspectives on Tikkun Olam
Tikkun olam (repairing the world), or tikkun ha-olam as it is referred to in its original Mishnaic context, is a concept that has captured, and continues to capture, the imagination of American Jewish society. While much of this fervor is rooted in the liberal movements of Conservative and Reform, which have cast tikkun ha-olam as a call for social activism, interest has been piqued among Orthodox circles as well. This has prompted the rise of specifically Orthodox social justice organizations. But what is tikkun ha-olam? What are its definitions and parameters? More vitally, as Jews who are committed to the observance of Halakhah, we may ask from what normative sources, if any, the hiyyuv of engaging in tikkun ha-olam is derived. And, upon discovery of these sources, we ought to be further concerned with how central a role tikkun ha-olam should play in our lives, both on the philosophical and practical levels. A great deal of literature has been produced, both within the Orthodox community and without, which deals with this topic. To attempt an account of all primary sources would be far beyond the scope of this article, and, with all likelihood, the abilities of its author. What follows is an outline and categorization of various Orthodox approaches to tikkun ha-olam. The survey is intended to highlight some major themes and is by no means meant to be exhaustive. The reader is referred to citations in the endnotes as a guide for further study.
The first step in analyzing tikkun ha-olam is to unfetter ourselves somewhat from the restrictions of this particular terminology. The verb t-k-n, meaning to repair, mend, or introduce a legal measure[ii] appears in a wide array of contexts in Torah literature.[iii] As may be obvious from the rather large scope that is encompassed by these definitions, most of these occurrences are not relevant to the topic at hand. (In many kabbalistic writings, the term tikkun does refer to an attempt to repair the world, but is intended in a purely, or mostly, esoteric sense. This is not the sense of the term I would like to consider here.[iv]) For the purposes of this article, I would like to consider the formulation presented at the 1994 Orthodox Forum on tikkun olam, which is to investigate the responsibility “that Jews bear… for the moral, spiritual, and material welfare of society at large.”[v] Therefore, even though we proceed to an analysis of the origins of the phrase tikkun ha-olam in the Mishnah, it is always with an eye towards the above definition.
Tikkun ha-olam enters the halakhic stage in the fourth and fifth perakim of masekhet Gittin. The mishnayot there record a series of measures introduced by the Tanna’im in various realms of Halakhah including divorce,[vi] ketubah,[vii] monetary transactions,[viii] slave ownership,[ix] and korbanot.[x] The premise given for all of these takkanot (legal measures) is tikkun ha-olam.[xi] Two observations must be made about these mishnayot. The first is that all of these takkanot are indeed intended to further social welfare. As opposed to the usual gezeirot de-rabbanan (rabbinic decrees), which expand or augment the fulfillment of a mitsvah, these mishnayot, even the ones that deal with religious practices such as korbanot, are meant to enhance the quality of life in society.[xii] The second observation is that all of these takkanot are internal to the Jewish community, and are not aimed towards Jewish-Gentile relations.[xiii] For this second reason, some argue that the Mishnah’s principle of tikkun ha-olam cannot be the source for a program of interaction with the Gentile world. [xiv]
The phrase le-takken olam (to repair the world) appears one more time in the Talmudic-era literature. Aleinu, which is recited daily after each tefillah, and which was adapted from the first section of the mussaf prayer on Rosh ha-Shanah, includes the request for God to “takken olam be-malkhut Sha-dai – repair the world under the sovereignty of the All-Capable.”[xv], [xvi] This source may appear to be a promising source of hiyyuv for practicing tikkun ha-olam at first glance, as it seems to ascribe universal scope to the tikkun ha-olam mentioned in the Mishnah, but it falls short for three reasons. Firstly, it is debatable whether the text originally read “le-takken” altogether. It might have read “le-takhen,”[xvii], [xviii] to prepare, which leaves us without reference to the Mishnah. Secondly, the tefillah does not prescribe active human involvement. Rather, we ask God to bring about this repair/preparation.[xix] Finally, even discounting the previous two points, an offhand liturgical reference is hardly the basis for a halakhic hiyyuv. More philosophically grounded approaches to tikkun ha-olam will be discussed below, but, at least in this stage of the investigation, we must discount references such as the one in Aleinu that do not appear to be related to any halakhic principle. We have thus found that the early references to tikkun ha-olam have little to do with Jewish responsibility for the welfare of society at large, which is our chosen topic. Therefore, in order to proceed, we must detach ourselves from the exact phrase of tikkun olam entirely, using it only as a reference to our lengthier definition, and seek out other realms of Halakhah that deal with Jewish-Gentile relations. The first of these, which features in Orthodox examinations of tikkun ha-olam is that of the Seven Noahide Laws.
The Noahide Laws
The seven Noahide prohibtitions, namely: taking God’s name in vain, idol worship, prohibited sexual activity, murder, theft, eating the limb of a living animal, and the obligation to enforce law[xx] are the basis of a halakhic system that applies to non-Jews. In Hilkhot Melakhim 8:10, Rambam codifies the hiyyuv to compel Gentile compliance with these laws: “Our master Moses did not bequeath the Torah and [its] commandments except to Israel… And similarly, Moses commanded [us] by word of God to compel all people on earth to accept the commandments, which were commanded to the descendants of Noah.” Rabbis J. David Bleich and Michael Broyde both examine the sheva mitsvot benei Noah as a potential basis for Jewish involvement with the welfare of general society.[xxi] Each considers whether Rambam’s formulation, however militant, is the basis of a tikkun olam idea. Both analyses conclude that while the mitsvot certainly are binding for non-Jews[xxii] there is no hiyyuv, as such, to demand or encourage compliance.[xxiii] However, both rabbis note that there are grounds for an extra-halakhic practice of bringing non-Jews closer to a fulfillment of these commandments.[xxiv] They cite the Sefer Hasidim who writes that, “when one sees a Noahide sinning, if one can correct him, one should, since God sent Jonah to Nineveh to return them to his path.”[xxv], [xxvi]
Emerging from the discussion of the Noahide laws is the basis for a program of tikkun olam that fits our definition of “Jewish responsibility for the moral, spiritual, and material welfare of society at large.” The Noahide laws include staples of a just society. The requirement to establish courts and prohibitions against stealing and murdering are obviously pillars of social justice.[xxvii] But just as obvious is the philosophy underlying some of the other prohibitions. Not taking God’s name in vain and the prohibition of idol worship have a clear religious connotation. More foundational than this is Rambam’s insistence that the Noahide laws must be accepted “because God commanded them in the Torah and informed us, by way of our master Moses, that the descendants of Noah were originally commanded regarding them.”[xxviii] Acceptance of these laws, for Rambam, must be accompanied by theological axioms, including a particularly Jewish view of monotheism and the divinity of the Torah.[xxix] They cannot be accepted on the basis of “logical inference.”[xxx] This being the case, it follows that a program of tikkun olam based on an attempt to bring non-Jews closer to Noahide Laws would include ideological reorientation of the non-Jewish world. It would not be interested in a dialogue that involves only the elements that are, a priori, the universal concerns of humanity (such as social justice, ethics, dignity, etc.). Rather, it would ultimately entail a conversion of non-Jewish society to a particularly Jewish universalism that centers on monotheistic faith.
The public endorsement of religious ideals has not been the practice of American Jewry, or, for that matter, most of Jewry throughout history.[xxxi] The question of whether to engage in such endorsement today is subject to dispute, with some in favor[xxxii] and some opposed.[xxxiii] R. Bleich, for his part, bemoans the community’s lack of engagement with these issues. In the past, he writes, “Jewish influence upon the dominant society was virtually nil,”[xxxiv] preventing any Jewish input on public religious life. Today, we have the means to articulate our views and the invitation of a society that values our input, and yet we still remain virtually silent on religious issues. R. Bleich attributes this behavior to the influence of Western political and social theory on the Jewish community. Western society, in its attempt to formulate morality on secular premises, does not seek to impose beliefs or require moral activities of citizens within the bounds of their personal lives.[xxxv] Jewish thought, however, finds man “bound by divinely imposed imperatives that oblige him to be concerned with the needs – and morals – of his fellow.”[xxxvi] In the eyes of Halakhah, Cain’s primeval cry, “am I my brother’s keeper,”[xxxvii] remains as futile an excuse as when it was first uttered. Therefore, argues R. Bleich, the Jewish community ought to formulate statements of public policy based in halakhic norms and consistent with the Noahide Code.[xxxviii]
Whether or not one agrees with this presentation, the arguments ought to be considered seriously when pondering the public policies of the Jewish community. To posit that the Gentile public is outside the jurisdiction of the Halakhah is, as has hopefully been demonstrated, simply inaccurate. To argue that the attempt to apply halakhic norms in non-Jewish society oversteps the will of contemporary American Jewry becomes, in light of the arguments above, something of an irrelevancy. In practicing Halakhah, we attempt to fulfill God’s will, not our own. If, as American Jews, we find ourselves uncomfortable with bringing issues of God into public discourse, perhaps we should begin to wonder if this discomfort is authentically Jewish. The Noahide Laws are, at the very least, a desirable extra-halakhic enterprise, and, at the most, an absolute hiyyuv, momentarily unexpressed for pragmatic reasons. Obviously, political and social circumstances must be carefully considered, and damaging effects to both the Jewish and American communities must be taken in account. However, if, as will be presented below, we can turn to our patriarch Abraham for guidance in dealing ethically with the nations of the world, we certainly must also consider his legendary campaign of kiruv, of enthusiastically bringing the people of the world closer to the Almighty. [xxxix]
The Noahide laws may be closely linked to definite halakhic obligations, but they still do not include Jewish involvement in society in terms of proactive ethical activity. The obligation to enforce these laws may result in a just society, but does it call for direct Jewish involvement in the suffering of non-Jews, with their poor, or with the advancement of dignity for all mankind? These universal topics are dealt with by a second group within Orthodox literature on tikkun ha-olam. These thinkers, though not necessarily for the reasons above, have developed approaches to Jewish responsibility for greater society that limit religious involvement and amplify the conception of Jews as members of the human family. As Orthodox thinkers, they all seek a normative basis, or something like it, for these practices.
Most often cited in this context is the approach put forward by R. Yosef Dov Soloveitchik in his essay on interfaith dialogues entitled Confrontation.[xl] There, R. Soloveitchik analyzes the first chapters of Bereshit and develops a theory of man as a “doubly confronted being.”[xli] On one level, the biblical Adam is summoned by God to a confrontation with the world around him, which he must dominate using his intellect. On a second level, Adam is confronted by Eve in an attempt to build a human society. Adam and Eve recognize that they are similar, but also that there are elements of each other that the other cannot see or know. R Soloveitchik develops this structure into a model for Jewish relations with non-Jewish society. On the one hand, Jews must consider themselves “as human beings, sharing the destiny of Adam in his general encounter with nature.”[xlii] This perspective engenders participation “in every civic, scientific, and political enterprise”[xliii] in society and promotes being “constructive and useful citizens.”[xliv] On the other hand, Jews must see themselves as members of a unique “covenantal community.”[xlv] This aspect of Jewish identity is not, and cannot be, shared with the world. When it comes to the extremely personal matters of faith, the Jewish community must identify itself to non-Jewish society as a ger (stranger) living within it. The private relationship between God and His people is not up for public scrutiny or discussion. R. Soloveitchik was dealing with interfaith dialogue, but his comments are easily adapted to our topic. This version of “tikkun olam” has quite different implications than the one discussed above. In R. Soloveichik’s view we, as Jews, are required to lend our strength in making the world a better place to live, in the universal sense of ethics, social justice, scientific progress, etc. In Confrontation, Jewish contribution to the religious character of society seems almost detrimental. Even though it is fairly clear from other places where R Soloveitchik has commented on these issues that he does consider certain theological ideas universal and fit for public discourse, [xlvi] these ideas fall quite short of the campaign that is called for by the Noahide Laws.
R. Aharon Lichtenstein develops this notion further. In presenting the parameters for Jewish philanthropy in non-Jewish society, he posits that we may consider the basis for our gemilut hasadim (acts of kindness) to the Gentile world in two ways. One echoes R. Soloveitchik’s formulation: “[Jewish commitment to gemilut chasadim] may be construed as a reflection of a Jew’s dual identity, comprising both universal and particularistic components.”[xlvii] The alternative derivation of this hesed is as a mesorah (tradition) from our patriarch Abraham who commanded “his children and his household after him that they keep the way of Hashem, doing charity and justice.”[xlviii] R. Lichtenstein invokes biblical tales and midrashim in which our forebears reacted with sensitivity and kindness to Gentile plight. He cites Abraham’s hakhnasat orhim (welcoming of guests), Rebecca’s hospitality to Eliezer, and Moses’s defense of the daughters of Yitro, among others. This is without even mentioning the endless calls for social justice found throughout the words of the prophets.[xlix] Given this history of caring and kind deeds, an indifference to Gentile suffering is “shamefully deplorable.”[l] Rather, argues R. Lichtenstein, our “polestar” in relating to Gentile suffering is found in the Rambam:
The Sages commanded us to visit the sick of Gentile (lit. idolaters), and to bury their dead with the dead of Israel, and to provide for their poor together with the poor of Israel because of “the ways of peace” [darkhei shalom]. Behold it is written “God is good to all, and his mercy is upon all of his creations,” and it is also written “It’s [the Torah’s] ways are pleasant ways and all of its paths are peace.”[li]
R. Lichtenstein notes that this statement of Rambam codifies a requirement of ve-halakhta be-derakhav, of following in God’s ways. Just as He is merciful to all, so should we be.[lii]
If the Noahide Laws suggest an overtly theological program of tikkun olam, the approaches listed here do the opposite. If Jewish responsibility for the welfare of general society is based in ethical solidarity with humanity, or in our universal recognition of human suffering, then the practical application of tikkun olam takes on R. Soloveitchik’s structure. We commit ourselves to soothe the ills of humanity insofar as the issues we approach are relevant to all mankind. At the same time, our theological contributions are mitigated. There is no need to accept a divine law in order to enter the human family; that right is granted by birth. These arguments ring with intuitive correctness. The thought that anyone could glibly dismiss human suffering or injustice of any kind is horrifying. And yet, as we have seen, this kind of tikkun olam has very little backing in normative Torah sources.[liii] Emphasis on these issues has appeared only recently in the course of Jewish history.[liv] It is here that the question of centrality arises. It has been argued that the lack of substantive normative backing for tikkun olam should exclude this enterprise from the epicenter of Jewish life. [lv] Time, resources, and spiritual will-power are precious commodities for individual and community alike. Considering this, it becomes important to gauge just how much one is capable of, and priority should be given to activities that are firmly rooted in Jewish practice (inter-communal hesed, tefillah, talmud Torah, etc.). This by no means implies total retreat from non-Jewish society. It does, however, mean that pursuits of tikkun olam cannot come at the expense of other halakhic observance.
The discussion of centrality points towards one final, somewhat alarming, point. In incorporating tikkun olam, and not halakhic observance, as a central tenet of Jewish practice[lvi] the Reform movement has, admittedly, attempted to take up the radical methodology of the prophets who valiantly fought for social justice, but has also practically disowned the corpus of laws found in the Humash. A focus on social justice allows Reform to remain at the forefront of progressive liberal values,[lvii] but at the terrible cost of forfeiting much of Jewish heritage. Reform made this transformation knowingly; however, allowing social justice issues into the inner sanctum of Jewish life could, God forbid, produce the echoes of such an effect in the Orthodox community, even with the best of intentions. Torah values are not always at odds with secular ones; sometimes the two systems simply weight things differently. Imbibing the values of the social justice movement as an individual or community can throw these weights off balance. Halakhah then becomes not a guiding light in life but, God forbid, a nuisance to be given short shrift in order to pursue those values that “really matter” to the modern person. Suddenly, where there was kashrut there is veganism, where there was tefillin there are overly sensitive concerns for animal rights, where there were issurei arayot (forbidden sexual relations) there is uncomfortable, if not indefensible, leniency. As Jews, we are certainly summoned to take action in bettering the world around us, but we must use the values embedded and emphasized in the Halakhah to do so, and not allow the movement of ideals to occur in the opposite direction.
The founding principle of the Jewish people is the desire to live an ethical religious life. Our ancestors were devoted to bringing to the world a way of life it had never known — a life of defending the orphan and widow, and of cleaving to the Almighty. We, their descendants, remain confident that the vision of the avot and immahot will one day be fulfilled. To take up their legacy of ethical and theological edification is certainly, if not an absolute hiyyuv, a natural fulfillment of the ethos of Yahadut. However, if this undertaking comes at the expense of cheapening the observance of Halakhah, at the expense of marginalizing our own deep and personal relationship with God, then it ends up as a self-defeating tragedy. The factors affecting our decisions when relating to the non-Jewish world are many and complex. We must be extremely cautious, and turn to the Ribbono Shel Olam for His assistance in navigating these interactions.
Adam Freidmann is a junior at YC majoring in Philosophy, and is an associate editor for Kol Hamevaser.
[ii]Marcus Jastrow, Dictionary of the Targumim, Talmud Bavli, Talmud Yerushalmi and Midrashic Literature (New York: Judaica Press, 2004), 1691-1692.
[iii]There are ample examples in the Jastrow entry.
[iv]The kabbalistic notion of tikkun is relevant to these discussions insofar as it influenced strongly the views of tikkun ha-olam taken by the Reform and Conservative movements on the one hand and, le-havdil, by R. Kook on the other. However, going into detail would take this article too far off course. For an in-depth discussion see Gerald J. Blidstein, “Tikkun Olam,” Tikkun Olam: Social Responsibility in Jewish Thought and Law (Orthodox Forum Series), ed. by David Shatz, Chaim I. Waxman, and Nathan Jay Diament (Northvale, NJ: Jason Aronson, 1997), 48-50 and 54. See also Gilbert S. Rosenthal, “Tikkun ha-Olam: The Metamorphosis of a Concept,” Journal of Religion 85, 2 (2005): 223-233.
[v] David Shatz, Chaim I. Waxman, Nathan Jay Diament (eds.), Tikkun Olam: Social Responsibility in Jewish Thought and Law (Orthodox Forum Series) (Northvale, NJ: Jason Aronson, 1997), 1.
[vi] Gittin 4:2.
[ix] Ibid. 4:4.
[x] Gittin 53a.
[xi]Penei Yehoshua (to Gittin 37b, s.v. mishnah) holds that all of the halakhot in the fourth perek are based on tikkun ha-olam, though it is unclear how certain rulings are related.
[xii]See Gittin 53a.
[xiii]The topic of relations with Gentile society is not broached by the Mishnah until the end of the fifth perek with the discussion of darkhei shalom (ways of peace). The relevance of these mishnayot to our topic will be discussed below, though it is noteworthy that most of the cases of darkhei shalom involve peaceful relationships between Jews, rather than between Jews and Gentiles.
[xiv] See Jacob J. Schacter, “Tikkun Olam: Defining the Jewish Obligation,” Rav Chesed: Essays in Honor of Rabbi Dr. Lookstein, ed. by Rafael Medoff (Hoboken, NJ and New York: KTAV Pub. House, 2009), 184 and Jack Bieler, “A Religious Context for Jewish Political Activity,” Tikkun Olam, note 13. See also Rosenthal, 219.
[xv]Siddur ha-Shalem he-Hadash: Beit Tefillah, 133.
[xvi]All translations are mine unless otherwise noted.
[xvii]The khaf would be accented making it a hard sounding kaf. The spelling here, while technically incorrect, is intended to highlight the different letter usage.
[xviii]For more on this, see Mitchell First, “Aleinu: Obligation to Fix the World or the Text?,” Hakirah 11 (2011), available at: www.hakirah.org.
[xix] The text begins “al ken nekaveh lekha – therefore we hope to You [God],” and then goes on to list a number of things that we hope God will do, such as the removal of abominations from the world, the smashing of idols, etc. Le-takken olam is part of this list.
[xx] Sanhedrin 56a. The order of the mitsvot has been changed to accommodate translation to English.
[xxi]J. David Bleich, “Tikkun Olam: Jewish Obligations to Non-Jewish Society,” Tikkun Olam, 61-102 and Michael J. Broyde, “The Obligation of Jews to Seek Observance of Noahide Laws by Gentiles: A Theoretical Review,” Tikkun Olam, 103-143.
[xxii] Broyde, 108. Bleich takes this as a given.
[xxiii]Broyde, 129. Bleich, 73. Here there is an important distinction between opinions. R. Broyde concludes that the weight of halakhic sources is against Rambam and that therefore his opinion is not considered in the final makeup of the Halakhah. R. Bleich, however, argues that the Rambam’s formulation only includes an obligation to effect wholesale acceptance, by a non-Jew, of the entire Noahide code. Rambam does not obligate the prevention of particular infractions. Compulsion of wholesale acceptance is only possible in places and times where Jews have complete authority over non-Jews, a situation that does not exist today. Consequently, argues R. Bleich, Rambam’s opinion is not abandoned, but practically in-executable. This distinction is relevant because, according to R. Bleich, Rambam’s presentation of the Noahide laws as a religious and philosophical system still has bearing on extra-halakhic attempts to secure non-Jewish compliance, whereas according to R. Broyde’s view it may not.
[xxiv] Broyde, 139. Bleich, 73.
[xxv] Quoted in Broyde, 103. Translation is his.
[xxvi] Tosafot Yom Tov to Avot 3:14 is cited by both Rabbis Bleich and Broyde in a similar vein. Both authors also present other nuances while arguing along these lines. Their articles should be consulted at length for a fuller explanation.
[xxvii]There may be grounds for even more comprehensive application of civil Halakhah to Gentiles. See note 49 below.
[xxviii]Hilkhot Melakhim 8:11.
[xxix] See note 23 above. The requirement to accept Noahide laws on the basis of divine command and not logical inference (hakhra’at da’at) is purely an innovation of Rambam (see Kesef Mishneh to Hilkhot Melakhim 8:11). Therefore, if one holds, as R. Broyde does, that Rambam’s views of compelling Noahide compliance is not incorporated into the final Halakhah, then it is possible that his views about other details of Noahide acceptance, particularly those that are not based in any previous sources, also are not included. However, even according to R. Broyde’s view one cannot deny the apparent theological dimensions in the prohibitions against taking God’s name in vain and idol worship.
[xxx] Hilkhot Melakhim 8:11.
[xxxi] See Bleich, 97-102.
[xxxii] See Meir Soloveichik, “A Nation Under God: Jews, Christians, and the American Public Square,” Yirat Shamayim: The Awe, Reverence, and Fear of God, ed. by Marc D. Stern (Jersey City, NJ: Ktav, 2008), 321-347.
[xxxiii] See Marc Stern, “Jews and Public Morality,” Tikkun Olam, 159-200.
[xxxiv] Ibid. 172.
[xxxv] Ibid. 101.
[xxxvi] Ibid. 101.
[xxxvii] Bereshit 4:9.
[xxxviii] Bleich, 101.
[xxxix] See Bereshit Rabbah 39:14 and 42:8 as well as Sotah 10a for examples of Abraham’s efforts. Cf. Rambam, Mishneh Torah, Hilkhot Avodah Zarah 1:3 and his Sefer ha-Mitsvot, aseh 3 for an incorporated narrative of these sources.
[xl] Joseph B Solovetichik, “Confrontation,” Tradition 6,2 (1964), 5-29.
[xlii] Ibid. 17.
[xliii] Ibid 27.
[xlvi] See Joseph B. Soloveitchik, “On Interfaith Relationships (a)” and “On Interfaith Relationships (b),” Community, Covenant, and Conversation, ed. by Nathaniel Helfgot (Hoboken, NJ and New York: KTAV Pub. House, 2005), 259-263.
[xlvii] Aharon Lichtenstein, “Jewish Philanthropy – Whither?,” Toward a Renewed Ethic of Jewish Philanthropy (Orthodox Forum), ed. by Yossi Prager (Northvale, NJ: Jason Aronson, 2010), 198. R. Lichtenstein grounds the relationship between Jews and non-Jews not only in the broad humanistic sense employed by R. Soloveitchik, but also in spiritual terms. Beyond the Noahide Laws, he finds that Gentiles may be included in large amounts of Hoshen Mishpat (tort law), and derive value from the study of Torah. They are also privy to the gamut of the “most basic strains of religious experience- ahavah, yir’ah, devekut, tefillah, karbanot, [and] teshuvah.”
[xlviii] Bereshit 18:19. Artscroll’s translation.
[xlix] Cf. Jonathan Sacks, To Heal a Fractured World: The Ethics of Responsibility (New York: Shocken, 2007), Ch. 2.
[l] Lichtenstein, 196.
[li] Hilkhot Melakhim 10:12.
[lii] Cf. Bava Metsia 78a where “ve-rahamav” is applied to animals. A fortiori it should apply to all people. R. Walter S. Wurzburger,”Darkei Shalom,” Gesher 6 (1977-1978), 84, emphasizes that the incorporation of imitatio dei into this Halakhah was Rambam’s specific goal. The takkanot that are mentioned by Rambam here originate in the Mishnah to Masekhet Gittin (5:9). There, the reason given for them is what Rambam mentions initially here, namely, maintaining peace. Rambam then cites two source texts. The second, which ends in “and all its paths are peace,” should have been enough of a source for darkhei shalom. Why quote the first proof of ve-rahamav as well? R. Wurzburger argues that Rambam intended to clarify the basis for darkhei shalom. One may have reasoned that maintaining peace had the self-serving motive of upholding a ‘live and let live’ relationship with non-Jewish society. In fact, argues Rambam, it is based in an altruistic requirement to imitate God and be merciful. See Hilkhot Avadim 8:9 where Rambam states that ve-rahamav is included in the mandate of ve-halakhta be-derakhav.
[lvi]See “A Statement of Principles for Reform Judaism,” available at: www. ccarnet.org.
[lvii] Michael Lerner, “Tikkun: To Mend, Repair and Transform the World,” Tikkun 1,1 (1986), 3.