Page 13 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 23

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7
F
r ie dm a n
— M
a r t in
B
uber
aware of the summons to proclaim it to the world.
(Hasid-
ism and Modern Man,
p. 59)
Buber remained true to this summons to proclaim Hasidism to
the world and brought it, “against its will,” to speak to the need
of Western man. At the same time, he realized in the course of
his work that “the way is there that one may walk it.” He came
himself to live and embody the image of man which he found in
Hasidism and which he pointed to for modern man. In “My
Way to Hasidism” Buber contrasted himself with the
zaddik,
the “justified,” or righteous man who was the charistmatic leader
of these popular Jewish mystical communities. “I, who am truly
no zaddik,” he wrote, “no one assured in God, rather a man
endangered before God, a man wrestling ever anew for God’s
light, ever anew engulfed in God’s abysses.” Yet in the almost
half century that he lived beyond this essay, he took on ever
more powerfully the lines of the “true zaddik” he himself had
described:
I mean those who withstand the thousandfold-questioning
glance of individual lives, who give true answer to the
trembling mouth of the needy creature who time after time
demands from them decision; I mean the zaddikim, the true
zaddik. That is the man who hourly measures the depths
of responsibility with the sounding lead of his words, (p. 68)
Martin Buber withstood the thousandfold questioning glance of
countless persons and measured hourly the depths of responsi-
bility with the sounding lead of his presence and his words.
Hasidism as an Image of M an
for Con temporary M an
Martin Buber in a lifetime of work recreating the legends
and teachings of Hasidism—the popular communal mysticism
of East European Jewry during the eighteenth and nine-
teenth centuries—puts forward this unique strain of Jewish mys-
ticism as an image of man and a live option for contemporary
man. Buber’s interpretation of Hasidism speaks in compelling
accents of a wholehearted service of God that does not mean
turning away from one's fellowmen and from the world. All that
is asked is to do everything one does with one’s whole strength—
not the denial of self and the extirpation of the passions but the
fulfillment of self and the direction of passion in a communal
mysticism of humility, love, prayer, and joy. Fulfillment and re-
demption do “not take place through formulae or through any
kind of prescribed and special action,” Buber wrote in
The