Martin Buber


Austrian-born Israeli Jewish Theologian, Philosopher and Writer

Author Quotes

For sin is just this, what man cannot by its very nature do with his whole being; it is possible to silence the conflict in the soul, but it is not possible to uproot it.

All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware.

In reality, the main purpose of life is to raise everything that is profane to the level of the holy.

Peace is the aim of all the world and… justice is the way to attain it.

There is no rung of being on which we cannot find the holiness of God everywhere and at all times.

[The Bible] is the history of God’s disappointments.

Man cannot approach the divine by reaching beyond the human; he can approach Him by becoming human. To become human is why he, this individual man, has been created.

There is not one realm of spirit and another of nature; there is only the growing realm of God. God is not spirit, but what we call spirit and what we call nature hail equally from the God who is beyond and equally conditioned by both, and whose kingdom reaches its fullness in the complete unity of spirit and nature.

Uniqueness is the essential property of man, and it is given to him in order that he may unfold it.

The love of God for this world is revealed through the depths of love human beings can feel for one another.

The perception of one’s fellow man as a whole, as a unity, as a unique – even if his wholeness, unity, and uniqueness are only partly developed, as is usually the case – is opposed in our time by almost everything that is commonly understood as specifically modern. In our time there predominates an analytical, reductive, and deriving look between man and man. This look is analytical, or rather pseudo-analytical, since it treats the whole being as put together and therefore able to be taken apart… An effort is being made today radically to destroy the mystery between man and man. The personal life, the ever-near mystery, once the source of the stillest enthusiasms, is leveled down.

Man’s action is enclosed in God’s action, but it is still real action.

Real faith… means holding ourselves open to the unconditional mystery which we encounter in every sphere of our life and which cannot be compromised in any formula… Real faith means the ability to endure life in the face of this mystery.

The world is not divine play, it is divine fate. They that are the world, man, the human person, you and I, has divine meaning. Creation - happens to us, burns into us, changes us, we tremble and swoon, we submit. Creation - we participate in it, we encounter the creator, offer ourselves to Him, helpers and companions.

“Fear of God”... never means to the Jews that they ought to be afraid of God, but that, trembling, they ought to be aware of his incomprehensibility... Only through the fear of God does man enter so deep into the love of God that he cannot again be cast out of it.

The real struggle is not between East and West, or capitalism and communism, but between education and propaganda.

Revelation does not flow from the unconscious; it is master of the unconscious, it takes possession of the existent human element and recasts it; revelation is encounter's pure form.

The perfection of any matter, the highest or the lowest, touches on the divine.

Once the concept of infinity has been taken seriously, a human dwelling can no longer be made of the universe. The universe can still be thought but it can no longer be imaged; the man who thinks it no longer really lives in it.

Play is the exultation of the possible.

To know the needs of men and to bear the burden of their sorrow - is the true love of men.

Without being and remaining oneself, there is no love.

He who loves brings God and the World together.

The word of him who wishes to speak with men without speaking with God is not fulfilled; but the word of him who wishes to speak with God without speaking with men goes astray.

The great man is powerful, involuntarily and composedly powerful, but he is not avid for power. What he is avid for is the realization of what he has in mind, the incarnation of the spirit. So long as a man's power is bound to the goal, the work, the calling, it is, in itself, neither good nor evil, only a suitable or unsuitable instrument. But as soon as this bond with the goal is broken off or loosened, and the man ceases to think of power as the capacity to do something, but thinks of it as a possession, then his power, being cut off and self-satisfied, is evil and corrupts the history of the world.

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Austrian-born Israeli Jewish Theologian, Philosopher and Writer