AuthorsVincent, Alana M.
AffiliationUniversity of Chester
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AbstractThis chapter will present a historicised phenomenological account of the two dominant forms of social justice within Judaism: tzedakah (justice) and tikkun (advocacy, or, literally, “mending”). Tzedakah is a core principle of religious Judaism, and also has profound resonances within secular Judaism; the history of the Anglo-Jewish community is illustrative of the manner and extent to which tzedakah has shaped Jewish identity. The concept of tikkun is conceptually more ambiguous, and even now is understood very differently by different Jewish communities. Liberal Jews understand tikkun to be both the action of social justice advocacy (of which charitable giving is only a single component) and, simultaneously, a meta-principle which governs the interpretation of halakah (Jewish law) even to the point of over-riding particular halakhic restrictions which may otherwise impede advocacy activity. Ultra-Orthodox Jews are, conversely, likely to view strict adherence to halakah, including the practice of tzedakah, as the primary means of tikkun ha-olam (the mending of creation). In addition to the key distinction between Liberal and Orthodox social justice activity which emerges when tzedakah and tikkun are considered as modes of action, this chapter will also explore distinctions between ethnic and religious Judaism which emerge when consideration is given to the particular targets of social justice activity: which causes are self-evidently worthy of either charitable or activist intervention? What language is deployed in attempts to promote a cause through appeals to common (Jewish) values? Through a close examination of these issues, the ways in which different traditions of Judaism construct and enact concepts of social justice within both religious and ethnic frameworks will be discursively explored.
CitationVincent, A. (2017). Tzedakah, Tikkun: Jewish Approaches to Social Justice. In A. M. Mealey, P. Jarvis, J. Doherty, & J. Fook (Eds.), Everyday Social Justice and Citizenship: Perspectives for the 21st Century. London, United Kingdom: Routledge.
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