tikkun olam


tikkun olam (tee-KOON oh-LAM) listen
tikkun olam (TIH-koon OY-lem) listen


  • n. "Repairing (the) world," making the world a better place through volunteering, social justice work, and philanthropy.

  • n. Kabbalistic concept of mystically repairing the fabric of the world through the performance of mitzvot.

Example Sentences

  • "Helping the needy is an act of tikkun olam."

Languages of Origin

  • Textual Hebrew


  • תיקון עולם

    • Who Uses This

      • Religious: Jews who are engaged in religious observance and have some Jewish education
      • Organizations: People involved in a professional or volunteer capacity with Jewish nonprofit organizations


      • North America
      • South Africa
      • Australia / New Zealand


      • The JPS Dictionary of Jewish Words, by Joyce Eisenberg and Ellen Scolnic, (Philadelphia, 2001).
      • Dictionary of Jewish Usage: A Popular Guide to the Use of Jewish Terms, by Sol Steinmetz (Lanham, MD, 2005).

      Alternative Spellings

      tikun olam


  • The modern meaning came into usage among progressive American Jews in the 1970s and became widespread in the 1990s. See history of the word in rabbinic texts here: (source) and in Jill Jacobs' book There Shall Be No Needy.

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