Page 21 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 23

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15
F
r iedm a n
— M
a r t in
B
uber
Though one begins with oneself, one does not end with one-
self. One does not aim at oneself but at the task one has to
fulfill. One comprehends oneself, including the resources as a
person that enable one to transform relationships by bringing
a new response to them, but one is not preoccupied with oneself
—neither with one's salvation, with one’s guilt, nor one’s neurosis,
one’s genius, one’s frustration, nor one’s grievances. “True, each
is to know itself, purity itself, perfect itself, but not for its own
sake—neither for the sake of its temporal happiness nor for that
of its eternal bliss—but for the sake of the work which it is
destined to perform upon the world.”
The Ha l lowing of the Eve ryday
Buber calls the final stage of
The Way of Man
“Here Where
One Stands.” The culmination of all the other stages is the re-
turn to the lived concrete, the hallowing of the everyday. We
all feel at times as if true existence had passed us by, says
Buber, and so we search for it somewhere, anywhere but where
we are. But the treasure is buried under our own hearth. The
true name of all the paradises which people seek by chemical or
other means, writes Buber in his criticism of Huxley’s advocacy
of mescalin, is situationlessness. One may stand in one’s situa-
tion, one may resist it, one may change it if need be, “but situa-
tionlessness is no true business of man.” Here where you stand
is your situation, that which addresses you and claims you.
The environment which I feel to be the natural one, the
situation which has been assigned to me as my fate, the
things that happen to me day after day, the things that claim
me day after day—these contain my essential task and such
fulfillment of existence as is open to me. . . . If we had
power over the ends of the earth, it would not give us that
fulfillment of existence which a quiet devoted relationship
to nearby life can give us . . . the people we live with or
meet with, the animals that help us with our farm work, the
soil we till, the materials we shape, the tools we use. . . .
The highest culture of the soul remains basically arid and
barren unless, day by day, waters of life pour forth into the
soul from those little encounters to which we give their due;
the most formidable power is intrinsically powerlessness
unless it maintains a secret covenant with these contacts,
both humble and helpful, with strange, and yet near, being.6
GHasidism and Modern Man,
Book IV, “The Way of Man,” pp. 172-174.
Hasidism and M odem Man
will be reprinted as a Harper Torchbook
(paperback), together with Martin Buber,
The Origin and Meaning of
Hasidism,
ed. and trans. with an Introduction by Maurice Friedman (New
York, Horizon Press, 1960).