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Martin Buber's Spirituality: Hasidic Wisdom for Everyday Life Hardcover – 10 Nov 2011


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Martin Buber (1878-1965) is perhaps more referenced than read; he was the originator of the I-Thou concept in religious philosophy, which opines, in part, that we must experience one another, and ultimately, God, as constituents in a dialog without limits. The inherent challenge in living out his ideas as well as his Hasidic background and use of Hasidic spirituality and tales to make his points contribute to preventing many readers from the very sort of engagement he would have championed. Kramer (comparative religious studies, emeritus, San Jose State Univ.; Martin Buber's I and Thou) goes a long way to bridge that gap through his accessible explication of six of Buber's crucial essays. VERDICT This brief, engaging analysis of an important Jewish writer's spirituality is recommended for Jewish and non-Jewish readers. Library Journal Kenneth Paul Kramer's book is a beautiful, invaluable guide to Martin Buber's classic work The Way of Man. It is essential reading for anyone who wants to gain insight into the Hasidic view of how to fulfill the meaning of our personal existence on earth. Kramer's book will make fascinating reading for seekers of all paths. -- Harold Kasimow, George Drake Professor Emeritus of Religious Studies, Grinnell College Kramer's dialogue with Martin Buber's spirituality is evident throughout this thoughtful, loving and intelligent understanding of Buber's The Way of Man. Ken has brought Buber's work into the 21st century. -- Pat Boni, San Diego State University A true disciple of Martin Buber, Kenneth Paul Kramer has given us a very important book. Written in a simple language which any reader will understand this religious philosophy, this work is very rich and thoughtful. It is truly an endowment to the study of the human way; I view it as a profound interpretation of a great philosopher-teacher, Martin Buber. -- Mishael M. Caspi, Professor Emeritus of Jewish Studies, Bates College In his refined meditation on Buber's classic The Way of Man, Kenneth Kramer brings new light to this work, focusing on the formation of a spiritualism that makes others and God present in our lives. As such, it is itself a guide to spiritual life, inspired by Hasidism and open to everyone. Kramer succeeds in making Hasidic spirituality relevant for all those who are interested in inter-human encounter and in a meeting with the Divine. In his interpretation of Hasidic spirituality as world-oriented and hallowing the everyday, he analyzes, exemplifies, actualizes and extends Buber's view on Hasidism. Like Buber, he opens up Hasidism to the broader world and universalizes it beyond any particular belief system; his beautiful book is about the secret of real meaning. It invites the reader to turn from self-centeredness toward dialogue, to perceive the divine spark in human beings, and to link living faith to everyday life. -- Ephraim Meir, Bar-Ilan University

About the Author

Kenneth Paul Kramer is the author of several books, including Martin Buber's I and Thou: Practicing Living Dialogue. He is professor emeritus of comparative religious studies at San Jose State University and lives in Santa Cruz, CA.

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Keen insight, extending and enlarging Buber's ideas 23 Mar. 2012
By Marty A. Michelson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Kenneth Paul Kramer is an expert on Martin Buber. I became familiar with Kramer when I started using his text on Martin Buber's I & Thou: Practicing Living Dialogue for a Graduate course I teach in psychology. (The course engages how we think about human personhood, and is entitled "Philosophy of Interpersonal Relationships.) The text noted above is a great stand-alone text for discerning Buber's I and Thou, though I would counsel any person to first work through I and Thou on their own - to struggle with it, before picking up Kramer's great text. Kramer is great, but, knowing the primary source and reading Buber in his own framework is urgent.

In this text, Martin Buber's Spirituality: Hasidic Wisdom for Everyday Living, takes Buber's The Way of Man and extends the conceptual ideas addressed by Buber. Like his former text on I and Thou, this text by Kramer does not seek to replace Buber's ideas, but instead aims to enlarge the reader's capacity to discern what Buber had said. In this way, Kramer acts as a kind of guide, or mentor, or even perhaps translator of Buber in helping the reader "get" what Buber has said with supporting ideas and extended descriptions.

It is hard to talk about what Kramer does without focusing on what Buber has already done, for this book is a direct, co-related extension of the former! In these ways, though, Kramer wants the reader to be able to work through the issues that Buber has attempted to discern. These issues include: where persons find themselves in life, with respect to God and others, discerning one's unique tasks in the world, becoming whole, dealing with personal and relational conflict, and discerning how to be fully human by being fully present with and to God in the fully realized here and now.

This is an excellent - superior text, really - for discerning Buber's The Way of Man. It is much more than a "cliff-note" to the text - but a text that stands alongside the former, with equal capacity for sharing, expanding and enlarging the insight of the former

If you want to discern Buber - or Buber's ideas for thinking about personhood, relationality, and how God "fits" into this - you should read this text.

Two other notes:

Kramer's "Conclusion: Practicing Buber's Secret" is a single chapter worthy of its own deep reflection, that deals with the issue of prayer and praying dialogically. Included there are these words:

"You know always in your heart that you need God more than everything; but do you not know too that God needs you - in the fullness of His eternity needs you? How would man be, how would you be, if God did not need [humans], did not need you? You need God, in order to be - and God needs you, for the very meaning of life." (116)

"If we pray, Buber continued, `Thy will be done,' we must in truth add `through me whom Thou needed.' Impossible to understand yet necessary to imagine, God needs me for our partnership to flourish, needs me to accept God just as God is ever-ready to accept me, needs me to pray and to listen attentively for signs in daily life, and needs me to live dialogically and relationally. Approaching prayer in this way, my role in praying is shifted. I bear a new responsibility, and with this new responsibility comes a new attentiveness to everyday events, encounters, and exchanges in which the Voice speaks." (116)

And, Kramer offers a wonderful "Dialogue Journal" in the Appendix, with questions that the reader can use with each chapter as they discern their own way in the world.
A straightforward, masterful and accessible presentation. 22 Feb. 2014
By Richard D. Stanton, Ph.D. - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Dr. Kenneth Kramer, Editor of DIALOGICALLY SPEAKING and other works, both knows and has taught this subject throughout his productive career. While the scholar may well appreciate the book, it is written to a much wider audience. For those who find value in eastern and western traditions which each immediacy, authenticity and profound respect for otherness - this book should be read as well as passed on to others who might be unaware of the source of this volume.

RDS
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