Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Tikkun olam

Today I learned that Bill Stuntz, one of my favorite law school professors, passed away after a struggle with liver cancer.  Professor Stuntz was a brilliant scholar, a generous mentor, an inspiring teacher, and, most of all, a deeply kind man.  Yes, he taught generations of Harvard Law students criminal law.  But he also taught us to practice with compassion, humility, and heart.

In a moving interview he gave after his cancer metastasized, he said:

We understand that the world is not what it should be, and that our own capacities to understand it are severely limited.
Professor Stuntz was an evangelical Protestant, but this sentiment -- and the curiosity, passion, and work it motivated -- is about the most succinct expression of tikkun olam, the Jewish concept of "repairing the world," that I have ever read.

Even in his absence, his words live as a reminder to us to listen, learn, reflect, and transform.

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