Page 16 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 11 (1952-1952)

Basic HTML Version

I-Thou, I-you, you and I together influence each o ther and
in the interplay between person and person, an insight, an idea,
a reality is discovered th a t is unique.
And Dr. Buber expands this to the relationship of the individual
to the world about him, the vast universe of which he is a pa r t, for
then I and Thou, Thou the spirit of the universe, you and I, O
God, we meet, and there is a confrontation of the individual with
the universe.
T h a t cannot be mechanized. Dr. Buber represents a philosophy
of life th a t is a protest against and a danger to the mechanization
of the world in which we live.
Our machine-system, as it expresses itself in totalitarian govern-
ments with all the evils of regimenting the individual and sup-
pressing freedom of thought and denying the ultimate postulates
of freedom itself, cannot stand before the sovereignty of the
individual, which is the corrolary of Buber’s mystical philosophy.
Buber’s fundamental emphasis is on the individual, even in re-
ligion. “Meeting God in inwardness in person,” is the basic
religious experience. The individual person is the object of God’s
love and affection.
In a charming little volume called
The IVay of M an
, Buber
devotes a chapter to the precious uniqueness of the individual in
Judaism and especially in Hasidic teachings. He writes:
“ Every person born into this world represents something new,
something th a t never existed before, something original and
unique . . . ! Every single man is a new thing in the world, and is
called upon to fulfill his particularity in this world. For verily:
th a t this is not done, is the reason why the coming of the messiah
is delayed.”
And elsewhere in the same volume, Buber tells this Hasidic
story about Rabbi Zusya. I t happened a short time before his
death when he said: “ In the world to come I shall not be asked:
‘Why were you not like Moses?’ I shall be asked: ‘Why were you
not Zusya?’ ”
In an interview Buber granted ju s t before he left the United
States, he spoke of this growing mechanization of man’s spirit and
strongly denounced it. The interviewer’s words are these:
“He is disturbed by the thought th a t , in our complex society,
the pa th of least resistance leads to the support of those organiza-
tions and philosophies which dehumanize and depersonalize our
basic relations with God and our fellow-men. In this respect he
expresses constant concern with the fate of the individual who has
been caught up in the organized machinery of Church, S tate,
Party , Union or Business. The result is th a t the individual gets