Page 14 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 23

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J
e w i s h
B
o o k
A
n n u a l
8
Legend of the Baal-Shem,
one of his earliest Hasidic works, “but
through the inner intention that one brings to one’s every act.”
“It is not the matter of the action, but only its dedication that
is decisive.” In the
zaddik,
or leader of the Hasidic community,
Buber found a new image of man—he who is the humble man,
the loving man, and the helper:
Mixing with all and untouched by all, devoted to the mul-
titude and collected in his uniqueness, fulfilling on the
rocky summits of solitude the bond with the infinite and in
the valley of life the bond with the earthly. . . . He knows
that all is in God and greets His messengers as trusted
friends.1
In his early interpretations Buber gave equal emphasis, along
with service, intention, and humility, to the ecstatic devotion
and cleaving to God of the Hasidim. In his later interpretation,
ecstasy drops out of sight in favor of the concrete, unexalted
task of “hallowing the everyday.” Although ecstasy plays an
important, if dangerous, part in the life of the holy Yehudi, the
hero of Buber’s Hasidic chronicle-novel
For the Sake of Heaven,
in Buber’s little classic
The Way of Man, According to the
Teaching of the Hasidim,
it does not appear at all. Instead a
much more existentialist note is struck as the way of man pro-
ceeds through “heart-searching,” “the particular way,” “resolu-
tion,” “beginning with oneself,” “not to be preoccupied with
oneself,” and “here where one stands.” One could perhaps say of
Buber what he himself says of the founder of Hasidism, namely
that he espouses
a realistic and active mysticism, i.e., a mysticism for which
the world is not an illusion from which man must turn
away in order to reach true being, but the reality between
God and him in which reciprocity manifests itself, the sub-
ject of his answering service of creation, destined to be re-
deemed through the meeting of divine and human need;
a mysticism, hence, without the intermixture of principles
and without the weakening of the lived multiplicity of all
for the sake of a unity of all that is to be experienced.
But one would then have to add, with Buber himself, that “a
‘mysticism’ that may be called such because it preserves the im-
mediacy of the relation, guards the concreteness of the absolute
and demands the involvement of the whole being” may be called
1 Martin Buber,
The Legend of the Baal-Shem,
trans. by Maurice Friedman
(New York, Harper & Bros., 1956) , “The Life of the Hasidim,"
p.
50. “The
Life of the Hasidim” is reprinted in Buber’s
Hasidism and Modern Man.