tikkun olam


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


  • n. Making the world a better place through volunteering, social justice work, and philanthropy.

  • n. The Kabbalistic concept of mystically repairing 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 'lit. repairing the world'

    • 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 in an article by Jonathan Krasner, an article by Jill Jacobs, and Jill Jacobs' book There Shall Be No Needy.

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