The concept of Tikkun Olam is the mission to bring about, via our actions, the means to restore, heal, and repair the Cosmos, Ayn Sof, and our own inner being. According to Lurianic mythology, during the process of creation initiated by Ayn Sof, an event called the Shattering of the Spheres occurred. This is when Ayn Sof was emanating out of its infinite being and conjuring a finite structure for itself that would ultimately enable the creation of a finite conceptual version of itself, a divinity that could be understood by the finite mind. This would be the deity as described in the TaNaK and approached by the means of the rituals of the prayer book. This would be the indwelling presence of the divine, aka the Shekhinah, which would be the power and essence of the lowest realm of Malkuth.
Now, according to the mythology, in the middle of this act of emanation, the infinite powers could not be fixed and contained in the finite structure, and one of the ‘spheres’ shattered. The traditional conception is that at the moment of the formation of Gevurah, aka Din, that was the sefrah that shattered. My own variation would have it that after Binah was formed, the sefrah Da’at was next. This is, of course, the sefrah that is an alternative presence within the ten sefirah of the Sefirot, depending on how one imagines the associate position of either Keter or Malkuth in the counting of the Ten sefirah. Within my own variation, Da’at is the sefrah that shatters. Hence, its tenuous presence, and in the final configuration of the Sefirot within our physical realm, is completely absent.
In either case, after the Shattering of the Spheres, Ayn Sof is attempting to regain control of the process of emanation and complete it. The fragments of the shattered sphere are now scattered throughout creation, and disharmony is a part of creation. Once the process is finalized, Ayn Sof finds itself encased in a disharmonious Cosmos and has no way to restore its own balance and harmony. We, humanity, are the means to accomplish that through our ability to take on the task of Tikkun Olam.
Traditionally, this configuration is represented in the conflict of the Left Pillar symbolized and represented by Gevurah/Din, and the Right Pillar symbolized and represented by Gedulah/Chesed. These are forever having the potential to tear asunder the whole of the Cosmos if either one gets complete control of the Sefirot system. Essentially, all acts of Tikkun Olam feed into the mediating sefrah of Tiferet, which is the key to stabilizing the oppositional powers contained in Gevurah/Din and Gedulah/Chesed.
Essentially, according to the traditional imaging of the Sefirot, the system is eternally in a precarious position of potential disaster. There is built into the imagining of the system disharmony and disruption with only the hope of attempting to balance it by human intervention via the deeds of Tikkun Olam.
My question is this. Can you solve, resolve, and establish harmony if you accept and envision the system in permanent disharmony and conflict?
I would propose that you cannot fix something that you already describe as broken. To repair a thing is to rebuild it with a new structure that is already harmoniously in balance. A broken engine is repaired when you take out the broken parts and replace them with parts that will work successfully together. Then and only then can you get the whole vehicle to function.
I would then propose that in order to enact Tikkun Olam, we need to take out the broken and dysfunctional parts and replace them. The dysfunctional parts are Din/Judgement and Chesed/Loving Kindness. These are an oppositional duality.
Now, traditionally, Din is imagined as the Biblical figure of Isaac, and Chesed is imagined as the Biblical figure of Abraham. Now, it does not take much imagination to see that there could be disharmony between those two patriarchal figures, as described in the first book of the Torah, chapter 22. According to that telling, Abraham tried to kill Isaac under the direction of God by sacrificing Isaac on the mount in the land of Moriah. This is not the only questionable, though potentially excusable, and explainable action taken by Abraham. In two places in the narrative, Abraham says Sarah is his sister (Genesis 12:10 through 13:1, in the encounter with Pharaoh, and Genesis 20, in the encounter with Abimelech). Knowing Sarah to be a great beauty and fearing that Abimelech and Pharaoh would kill Abraham to be with Sarah, Abraham asks Sarah to tell them that she is his sister. In those stories, Abraham is not showing unconditional loving kindness but very much offering his love only under certain limits and conditions. Thus, the seeds of imperfection and judgmentalness within him and thus perhaps within the sefrah of Chesed would explain why it is in a state of oppositional duality and conflict with its counterpart Din.
To accomplish Tikkun Olam, a repair and restoration of harmony, to fix this broken vehicle, the Cosmos, the Sefirot, I imagine that the broken parts need to be taken out of the vehicle altogether.
Therefore, we need to consider and reimagine those two sefirah of Gevurah and Gedulah. My solution is to imagine them as Chesed/Loving Kindness and Tzedek/Justice. These two would no longer be oppositional dual concepts but complementary dual concepts that exist in harmony with each other. To give them symbolic personalities, I would imagine them as being embodied by Esther for Chesed and her uncle Mordechai for Justice. These two worked together to accomplish the goal of saving and preserving their people.
Traditionally, the Left pillar was conceived of as the Feminine Pillar in oppositional duality with the Masculine Pillar of the Right. The Feminine Pillar within this sexist and Patriarchal tradition was always the lesser, the weaker, and the harboring of impurities and weakness. By reimagining the sefirah of Gevurah as Tzedek/Justice and personifying it as Mordechai, I have disrupted the sexist treatment of the Left Pillar as a flawed Feminine.
In my complete reimagining of the Sefirot, Binah is considered as Yin while Hokmah is considered as Yang. Within the Dao de Jing, where these two dual forces are described, neither is imagined as pure form. Within each presence of Yin, there is a bit of Yang, and within each Yang, there is a bit of Yin. Yin and Yang are complementary and always in harmony. Thus, now it is the Yin Pillar of the Left and Yang Pillar of the Right and no longer the oppositional sexist configuration that existed in traditional Rabbinic Kabbalah that had the sexist and patriarchal conceptions built into all its workings.
My goal is to eliminate sexist and patriarchal conceptions in the Kabbalah by reimaging all the symbols as harmonious and complementary pairings.
Therefore, to return to my question: Can you solve, resolve, and establish harmony if you accept and envision the system in permanent disharmony and conflict? My answer is no, you cannot. To have Tikkun Olam, you have to assume that the system is in harmony with a new set of symbols that your acts of Tikkun Olam empower.
Garshom Yaron aka Gary Jaron has been exploring the Occult Qabalah and the Rabbinic Kabbalah since he was a teen.