Can We Repair Our Broken World? The Toad and Tikkun Olam

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It wasn’t a large toad: maybe two, two-and-a-half inches long. I was in the yard with my grandma when we found him hopping alongside the house.

We caught him, put him in a Mason jar with holes in the lid, and dropped some grass inside for comfort. 

The next day, I took him with me to preschool for show-and-tell. This promised to be the best thing my fellow 4-year-olds had ever seen! 

As I waited with my mom in the small foyer outside the classroom door before class started, I slid the jar underneath my jacket, so no one could catch a glimpse before the great reveal. I stood there, proud of what I had found and so excited I could hardly wait. As it turned out, I wouldn’t have to wait long.

Seeking to make the world a better place and to alleviate suffering are noble and good things to pursue. But ultimately Tikkun Olam—world repair—will come when God Himself makes all things new.

Just as the door to the classroom opened, I lost my grip on the jar. It went crashing to the floor, shattering into several pieces. I’m sure my eyes were the size of saucers as I realized what had just happened. My toad friend went hopping crazily around as parents and children alike screamed and made quick jumps around the small foyer to avoid stepping on him. It was pandemonium.

Eventually, my toad friend—shaken, but unscathed, after his fall—-was recaptured in a paper cup, and I showed him to the class. They loved him.

I laugh about it now, but that memory is clear to me, because it was traumatic. One slip of my hand broke the jar and resulted in momentary chaos.

It’s similar to what happened to our world and to the human race in the Garden of Eden. Things were good when Adam and Eve were created—very good. But when Adam sinned, it ushered sin and death into the world (Rom. 5:12). Poverty. Homelessness. Broken families. Confusion about gender and sexuality. Abortion. Economic tumult. Pollution of the creation. Greed. There is chaos and brokenness everywhere we look in our world today. 

What do we do about this?

Many in the Jewish community seek to remedy these and other problems according to the rabbinic teaching called Tikkun Olam. Literally meaning “world repair,” at its root, Tikkun Olam assumes the world is broken.

On a practical level, synagogues, religious and non-profit groups, and Jewish individuals regularly take part in hands-on activities that seek to carry out Tikkun Olam. They want to make the world a better place by taking part in humanitarian work that benefits their neighbors and the world.

The Jewish community is not alone in this desire to bring healing to the broken world, though. Christians, too, are exhorted to alleviate suffering (Jas. 2:16), to care for the disadvantaged (Jas. 1:27), and to speak up for those without a voice (Prov. 31:8). Throughout history, the Lord has used believers to minister to the physical needs of others, believers such as William Wilberforce, Amy Carmichael, and modern evangelicals who lead the fight against sex trafficking and the abortion industry.

As good as it is to seek to alleviate suffering, we must never forget that the Scriptures teach there is only One who will bring lasting healing to the world, and that is Jesus the Messiah.

John, the beloved apostle, records the vision he saw of the day ultimate Tikkun Olam becomes a reality, when the new heaven and new earth are here:

And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”

Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” And He said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts” (Rev. 21:4-6).

Seeking to make the world a better place and to alleviate suffering are noble and good things to pursue. But ultimately Tikkun Olam—world repair—will come when God Himself makes all things new. 

Like the jar my toad called home, this world and all its suffering will be disposed of, the chaos will be over, and the world will be permanently and wholly repaired. In order to take part in this, though, each person must drink of the fountain of the water of life by trusting in the finished work of redemption Jesus accomplished on the cross. 

So, what about you? Will you experience lasting Tikkun Olam?

About the Author
Ty Perry

Ty Perry

Ty is a Field Representative for The Friends of Israel in Las Vegas, Nevada. He speaks in various venues educating Christians about the necessity of supporting Israel and the Jewish people.

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