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Birthday of Martin Buber

February 8
By Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat


"Everything is waiting to be hallowed by you." These words are from Martin Buber, who was born on this day in 1878. This Jewish philosopher and mystic was famous for his explications of what he called the "I-Thou" relationship which must exist between individuals and everything on the planet. "All real living is meeting," he wrote, and he practiced what he preached by promoting Jewish-Arab dialogue, attempting to save the Nazi Eichmann from the execution chamber, and refusing to spend his lifetime hating the Germans for their crimes against his people.

As a man of faith, Buber was used to "holy insecurity" — living on the borders between conflicting ideologies and clashing factions. He wrote: "There is nothing better for a person than to deal justly — unless it be to love; we should be able to fight for justice — but to fight lovingly."

This Hasidic principle had great resonance for Buber: "No encounter with a being or a thing in the course of our life lacks a hidden significance."

To celebrate Buber's birthday, try this simple practice: When you encounter a person, place, or thing, try to discern its special meaning at this point in your life. Reverence the meeting and see what shows itself.

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Martin Buber