Martin Buber was one of the greatest philosophers last century. His deceptively short treatise on love, I And Thou, is among the most beautiful books I've ever encountered.
He also wrote extensively of Hasidism, a mystic sect of Judaism that has sprouted among the very poor Jews of Eastern Europe. Besides writing for scholars and learned men, he also collected and composed many stories for children. His Tales of the Hasidim
makes both entertaining reading with our kids, and never fails to be thought provoking to me on both religious and literary grounds. And it is a wonderful introduction for children into a world that gets scant attention even in our 'multicultural' society.
But until recently I had read none of his poetry. I find that it requires and provokes much pondering, just as his philosophical writings and stories do, and that it is also couched in a language which even in translation is vibrant. And his passion, as always, is the genuine meeting of two persons.
Do You Still Know It . . . ?
Do you still know, how we in our young years
Traveled together on this sea?
Visions came, great and wonderful,
We beheld them together, you and I.
How image joined itself with images in our hearts!
How a mutual animated describing
Arose out of it and lived between you and me!
we wer there and were yet wholly here
And wholly together, roaming and grounded.
Thus the voice awoke that since then proclaims
And witnesses to old majesty as new,
True to itself and you and to both together.
Take then this witness in your hands,
It is an end and yet has not end,
For something eternal listens to it and listens to us,
How we resound out of it, I and Thou.