An Age In Need of Prophets
by Zalman Schachter-Shalomi
There was a time when prophets circulated among the population. They served as a social rebalancing force, and the people who had an open heart would begin to recalibrate their way of being in the world. More than ever do we need prophetic voices in our midst. Tikkun magazine is such a voice.
I still remember the time when Commentary magazine served the purpose of bringing together the voices of global concern, clarifying Jewish values, and being open to some gems from the tradition. When its orientation shifted and it became a cheerleader for neocon politics, it really became necessary for a prophetic organ to be created in the Jewish world.
When Tikkun was founded, its name made clear its intent to repair and establish a means by which the values of tikkun olam would have their moral and ethical effect on not only the Jewish community but also the larger American and global ones. Even choosing a Hebrew name for a mass circulation magazine was an attempt to say clearly: we are no longer the generation of Jews that is willing to hide our deep commitment to Judaism in order to gain intellectual or political respectability in America. During these twenty-five years, Tikkun magazine and the social/political organism it created under the devoted and persistent leadership of Rabbi Michael Lerner have become a voice that is taken seriously in American public discourse, as well as by those in the Jewish community who are not too terrified to listen to the prophetic voices that Rabbi Lerner assembles in the magazine and in his public conferences.
I wish Rabbi Lerner many more years of health and spiritual feistiness, and at the same time I pray that others in the Jewish world and in the larger spiritual world (including many gifted non-Jewish spiritual thinkers) will respond to Rabbi Lerner's appeal to join him in shaping the future directions of the magazine so that he can reduce his role in Tikkun (which may in a few years be primarily an online magazine for environmental, generational, and financial reasons) and dedicate more of his time to producing the spiritual Torah commentary to which he is committed and to writing more of the inspiring and significant books of his that have already played a major role in American public discourse.
Whatever those new directions, I hope that Tikkun in the next quarter-century will continue to do some of what I find most exciting in the past twenty-five years of the magazine:
- To make people aware of the value and impact of tradition and spirituality in the service of healing the planet.
- To propose visions that lead to more peace and global cooperation between individuals and governments.
- To be a strong voice challenging all traditions, and to take their valuable and precious magisterium and bring it up to date in an ecumenically friendly way.
- To promote the ways in which shared worship will be able to inspire and motivate people to take what was experienced in the synagogue, temple, church, or mosque and the world as a witness of God's presence in the lives of people.
- To give a forum to the next generation of emerging teachers and critics of society.
- To support women's intervention in male-dominated spaces so that they may share from their naturally nurturing perspective and counter the raucous clamor of conflicting masculine ideologies.
- To use the linear means of word and print in the service of enchantment for souls, aesthetics for hearts, and enlightenment for spirit.
- To mine the Jewish tradition and others for gems of inspiration and to show current applications of what used to be normative values and treat them as illustrative, exploring how they could be used today.
- To promote forms of enterprise for transnational and national corporations based on sharing and cooperation in which management, shareholders, and workers -- as well as the end-users -- will receive equitable value.
- And lastly, to encourage people to become aware of how fortunate we after all are to live on this amazing planet, in this important historical moment, and to share blessing with one another.
That Tikkun has already paved this direction for the past twenty-five years is plenty of reason to celebrate it, and to seek the support of visionaries to help Tikkun both financially and creatively with prose writing, poetry, art, music, and dance. I urge everyone connected to Jewish Renewal or other forms of religious and spiritual renewal to both subscribe and read it carefully!
Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi is the Zeyde of Aleph Alliance for Jewish Renewal, and coauthor of Jewish With Feeling.His articles in Tikkun include "Requiem for a Dream from an Oldster: A Lament with a Mazel Tov," May/June 2008; and "We Need a Ba'al Teshuvah President," November/December 1998.
Source Citation: Schachter-Shalomi, Zalman. 2011. An Age In Need of Prophets. Tikkun 26(1): 65