I was reading an online article published by My Jewish Learning called “One Small Step: Fulfilling the directive to repair the world begins in our own mouths and hearts” that made me think a little more about our Masonic responsibilities.
In the article the author describes the Jewish philosophy of Tikkun Olam or “world repair”. The philosophy is based around the last words of Moses where he encourages the Hebrews to follow God’s command and contract and that they not only need to be responsible for their own sins, but also the sins of the community as a whole. [Deu 29 & 30]
This concept struck me and is different from what I have been taught in a Protestant Christian tradition about sin and its place in the world. When most Protestants approach the topic of sin, we see that as a personal blocker between us and God and is on a personal level. (This is not a deep dive into the azazel and is certainly not a dissertation on hamartiology.)
In the concept presented in the One Small Step article the author noted that in reality, we take responsibility for the sin or wrongdoing of others, not in the sense that we are directly responsible for their sin, but rather, we are responsible to set an example of how not to sin.
My goal is not to argue the points of theological belief, but it is to recognize two points: First, that when we do something wrong against someone else it is in effect breaking a relationship with that person (or deity). Second, we as Freemasons have a responsibility to our fellow men to help them overcome and avoid the trap of sin and breaking relationships.
When we speak in our lectures of building “a house not made of hands, eternal in the heavens” [2Cor 5:1], or we speak of Living stones [1Pet 2:5], or cement of brotherly love and affection, we are talking about our place in community and setting examples for others.
This boils down to a logical argument about us as Masons being part of “World Repair”. We must first recognize that we are created beings. Next we must understand that the GAOTU has placed us here for a purpose. Then we must know that we as a collective of men (and women) have a responsibility to one another. Next we must explicitly know that we can only be better as a society if we elevate one another. Finally, we as Masons must set that example to raise each other and then others so we can move from the point of darkness to light.
When we spread brotherly love and affection we are in fact spending time building up others and helping to guide them in right actions.