Tikkun Olam

It’s the Jewish New Year, the celebration of 5777, and the wish you will hear exchanged, is “L'Shanah Tovah," which means, “A Good and Sweet Year.”  This is not an easy wish to have come true. We’re living in exceptionally challenging times times of senseless animosity, and times of brutal expressions of hatred. Sometimes we get so discouraged, so disillusioned, it’s tempting to not listen to the news, to not vote, and to not care. That’s when Tikkun Olam becomes important.

It would be difficult for any one of us to fix the world. But every day, to the best of our ability, we can try to make it a better place to live. Tikkun Olam is the practice of performing an act of kindness every day. Here’s a true story that reinforces the impact of Tikkun Olam and confirms this wise statement by Aesop, "No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted."

Danny Wakefield bought a sunflower with every intention of giving it to “someone I was smitten with,” he explained. But he didn’t want to come on too strong after a first date. So the Seattle native decided to give the bloom to someone on his way to work. He stopped at his usual coffee shop and saw a woman with tears in her eyes...

Danny knew in that instant that she was the one he would give the cheerful yellow flower to. He walked over to her, explained that he had bought the sunflower for someone special, but it didn't work out. Then he said,

“I can feel that you are someone special, too.”

Before he could even hand her the sunflower, the woman rose and embraced him. She explained that her fiancé had died the previous week, and that he always brought her sunflowers because he called her, "the light of his life." Then Danny said, “We cried and hugged for what seemed like forever.”

In a hurry, and overcome by the encounter, Danny left without getting the woman's name. But he posted the incident on his Facebook page where the story went viral.

Danny started The Sunflower Challenge, a worldwide social media effort, to encourage people to find ways to make the lives of others brighter.

“Do not confuse kindness with weakness.
To be kind means to be courageous.
That courage is the strength we need to change the world.”

If we set out to repair all the problems of the world at once, we would be overwhelmed, but if each of us practices Tikkun Olam — if each of us performs a courageous act of kindness every day, it’s amazing the positive change we can create.

Story Source: Anna Marie Lux, Sunday columnist for The Gazette.