But when a man draws a lifeless thing into his passionate longing for dialogue, lending it independence and as it were a soul, then there may dawn in him the presentiment of a world-wide dialogue with the world-happening that steps up to him even in his environment, which consists partially of things. Or do you seriously think that the giving and taking of signs halts on the threshold of that business where an honest and open spirit is found?
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The concept of guilt is found most powerfully developed even in the most primitive communal forms which we know: ... the man is guilty who violates one of the original laws which dominate the society and which are mostly derived from a divine founder; the boy who is accepted into the tribal community and learns its laws, which bind him thenceforth, learns to promise; this promise is often given under the sign of death, which is symbolically carried out on the boy, with a symbolical rebirth.
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The biblical passage which says of Abraham and the three visiting angels: "And He stood over them under the tree and they did eat" is interpreted by Rabbi Zusya to the effect that man stands above the angels, because he knows something unknown to them, namely, that eating may be hallowed by the eater's intention.... Any natural act, if hallowed, leads to God, and nature needs man for what no angel can perform on it, namely, its hallowing.
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Trust, trust in the world, because this human being exists - that is the most inward achievement of the relation in education. Because this human being exists, meaninglessness, however hard pressed you are by it, cannot be the real truth. Because this human being exists, in the darkness the light lies hidden, in fear salvation, and in the callousness of one's fellow-men the great Love.
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He who desires to become aware of the hidden light must lift the feeling of fear up to its source. And he can accomplish this if he judges himself and all he does. For then he sheds all fears and lifts fear that has fallen down. But if he does not judge himself, he will be judged from on high, and this judgment will come upon him in the guise of countless things, and all the things in the world will become messengers of God who carry out the judgment on this man.
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One should hallow all that one does in one's natural life. One eats in holiness, tastes the taste of food in holiness, and the table becomes an altar. One works in holiness, and raises up the sparks which hide themselves in all tools. One walks in holiness across the fields, and the soft songs of all herbs, which they voice to God, enter into the song of our soul.
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I do not accept any absolute formulas for living. No preconceived code can see ahead to everything that can happen in a man's life. As we live, we grow and our beliefs change. They must change. So I think we should live with this constant discovery. We should be open to this adventure in heightened awareness of living. We should stake our whole existence on our willingness to explore and experience.
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But it can also happen, if will and grace are joined, that as I contemplate the tree I am drawn into a relation, and the tree ceases to be an It. . . . Does the tree then have consciousness, similar to our own? I have no experience of that. But thinking that you have brought this off in your own case, must you again divide the indivisible? What I encounter is neither the soul of a tree nor a dryad, but the tree itself.
You do not attain to knowledge by remaining on the shore and watching the foaming waves, you must make the venture and cast yourself in, you must swim, alert and with all your force, even if a moment comes when you think you are losing consciousness; in this way, and in no other, do you reach anthropological insight.
I have learned a new form of service from the wars of Frederick, king of Prussia. It is not necessary to approach the enemy in order to attack him. In fleeing from him, it is possible to circumvent him as he advances and fall on him from the rear and force him to surrender. What is needed is not to strike straight at evil but to withdraw to the sources of divine power, and from there to circle around evil, bend it and transform it into its opposite.
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Since the primary motive of the evil is disguise, one of the places evil people are most likely to be found is within the church. What better way to conceal one's evil from oneself, as well as from others, than to be a deacon or some other highly visible form of Christian within our culture? ... I do not mean to imply that the evil are anything other than a small minority among the religious or that the religious motives of most people are in any way spurious. I mean only that evil people tend to gravitate toward piety for the disguise and concealment it can offer them.
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Every morning I shall concern myself anew about the boundary Between the love-deed-Yes and the power-deed-No And pressing forward honor reality. We cannot avoid Using power, Cannot escape the compulsion To afflict the world, So let us, cautious in diction And mighty in contradiction, Love powerfully.
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When we rise out of [the night] into the new life and there begin to receive the signs, what can we know of that which - of him who gives them to us? Only what we experience from time to time from the signs themselves. If we name the speaker of this speech God, then it is always the God of a moment, a moment God.
God said to Abraham: "Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto the land that I will show thee." God says to man: "First, get you out of your country, that means the dimness you have inflicted on yourself. Then out of your birthplace, that means out of the dimness your mother inflicted on you. After that, out of the house of your father, that means out of the dimness your father inflicted on you. Only then will you be able to go to the land that I will show you"
In philosophical anthropology, ... where the subject is man in his wholeness, the investigator cannot content himself, as in anthropology as an individual science, with considering man as another part of nature and with ignoring the fact that he, the investigator, is himself a man and experiences this humanity in his inner experience in a way that he simply cannot experience any part of nature.
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In spite of all similarities, every living situation has, like a newborn child, a new face, that has never been before and will never come again. It demands of you a reaction that cannot be prepared beforehand. It demands nothing of what is past. It demands presence, responsibility; it demands you.
Here is the infallible test. Imagine yourself in a situation where you are alone, wholly alone on earth, and you are offered one of the two, books or men. I often hear men prizing their solitude but that is only because there are still men somewhere on earth even though in the far distance. I knew nothing of books when I came forth from the womb of my mother, and I shall die without books, with another human hand in my own. I do, indeed, close my door at times and surrender myself to a book, but only because I can open the door again and see a human being looking at me.
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I have to tell it again and again: I have no doctrine. I only point out something. I point out reality, I point out something in reality which has not or too little been seen. I take him who listens to me at his hand and lead him to the window. I push open the window and point outside. I have no doctrine, I carry on a dialogue.
From my youth onwards I have found in Jesus my great brother. That Christianity has regarded and does regard him as God and Savior has always appeared to me a fact of the highest importance which, for his sake and my own, I must endeavor to understand . . . I am more than ever certain that a great place belongs to him in Israel's history of faith and that this place cannot be described by any of the usual categories.
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About what mainly constituted what you ask, it was something other. It was just a certain inclination to meet people. And as far as possible, to change something in the other, but also to let me be changed by him. At any event, I had no resistance, I put no resistance to it. I already began as a young man. I felt I have not the right to want to change another if I am not open to be changed by him as far as it is legitimate.
Every person born into the world represents something new, something that never existed before, something original and unique....If there had been someone like her in the world, there would have been no need for her to be born." --Martin Buber as quoted in Narrative Means for Sober Ends, by Jon Diamond, p.78
In the story of the Creation we read: ". . . And behold, it was very good." But, in the passage where Moses reproves Israel, the verse says: "See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil." Where did the evil come from? Evil too is good. It is the lowest rung of perfect goodness. If you do good deeds, even evil will become good; but if you sin, evil will really become evil.
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The world is a spinning die, and everything turns and changes: man is turned into angel, and angel into man, and the head into the foot, and the foot into the head. Thus all things turn and spin and change, this into that, and that into this, the topmost to the undermost, and the undermost to the topmost. For at the root all is one, and salvation inheres in the change and return of things.
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