145 years ago, in an enlightened home in Vienna, a child was born. His name was Mordechai Martin Buber -מרדכי מרטין בובר . Martin Buber, as he was mostly known, became a famous Jewish Philosopher. Without a shadow of a doubt, I believe Buber was one of the most important Jews of the 20th Century. Today we shall study Buber between 1923, the year that wrote his revolutionary book, “I and Thou”, until 1938, the year he was forced to leave Germany and set on his journey to the Land of Israel. The book “I and Thou” focused on the way people relate to their world.
The problem, according to Buber, is that we mostly view objects and people by their functions. For Buber, this kind of relationship is called an I-It relationship – אני-לז. A good example is a student who speaks to his teacher only about his grade or his attendance in class. Buber claimed that we should be truly available to them and attempt to understand them by sharing our thoughts with them – this is a dialogue that Buber called an “I-It interaction” – אני-אתה. Buber called the relationship between the man and God “I and eternal thou” -אני-אתה נצחי . We will discuss this relationship in depth another time; however it’s important now to note two memorable quotations about it:
“ההוכחה שאין אלוהים היא שלא יוצאת אש גדולה מהשמיים ושורפת את כל אלה המדברים בשמו”
“The proof that there’s no God is not that there’s a fire from heaven that burns all who speak in His name.”
“.על אלוהים אי אפשר לדבר, אבל אפשר לדבר אליו”
“You can’t speak about God, but you can speak to Him.” In 1924 Buber published a book called “Or Hagnuz” (The Hidden Light) which includes a number of Hasidic stories. The book describes a legend that talks about the first light that God created, a light which suddenly disappeared from sight just prior to the flood. This light was eternal. After it disappeared from general sight, it could only then be seen righteous people, who found it in their study of Torah. In 1925 Buber translated the Bible into German and this act was questionable, because as you well know, a translation cannot speak in the same way the original text does, because in translation there’s a kind of interpretation. When Buber came to the Promised Land, he said the following:
” אילו היינו נותנים לה לאלימות לשלוט כרצונה, היינו מאבדים את הדרך לעשות שלום עם העם שגורלנו ההיסטורי מטיל עלינו לחיות יחד עמו ולבנות ארץ זו יחד עמו, גורל שיתגלה לנו טעמו בשעה שנתייחס אליו ברצינות גמורה.”
“If we let violence control us as it wishes, we will lose the ability to make peace with the people that our historical destiny imposes upon us to live with and to build a land with – a destiny that when we discover its point, will threaten our neighbors in a genuinely serious way.”
With these beautiful words let’s pray that there will be Peace on Earth and that a true dialogue will take place with people all around the world. This is what we try to do here, in our small way, here at eTeacher!