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April 04, 2012


Ron Dart


I quite enjoyed your article on Fackenheim’s To Mend the World and tikkun olam (repairing the world). Those who have suffered the deepest know there is a hard middle path to walk between serving a form of immoral power, on the one hand, and slipping into despair, cynicism and impotence, on the other hand. I began a doctoral thesis more than 20 years ago on Martin Buber. Buber was, probably, the leading German Jewish intellectual in Germany in the 1930s.

Buber lingered in Germany as a mender-repairer until the dreaded Kristallnacht of November 9 1938. Fackenheim was fortunate to come to Canada. Buber went to Jerusalem where he was hired to teach at Hebrew University. The position of many Jews at the time was, understandably so, to despise the Germans and prepare to do battle with the Palestinians and Arabs. Buber had known what it meant to suffer and be a victim of prejudice, and he did not want to be an agent of doing this to others. After WW II, Buber was offered the prestigious Goethe Peace Prize by the Germans. Most Jews urged Buber not to take the prize. Buber understood the reasons for the NO, but he insisted that if the post WW II German-Jewish relationship was going to be repaired-mended, forgiveness was essential.

Those who cannot forgive their oppressor are doubly victimized and frozen in history. Buber was also at the forefront, as a Zionist, in urging the Jews to be repairers-menders of relationships with the Palestinians.

Buber, like an ancient Jewish prophetic, sought, like Fackenheim, to mend the world through forgiveness and justice---he also, by way of conclusion, had some probing critiques of Paul’s questionable notion of Law-Grace--do read Buber’s Two Types of Faith: A Study of the interpenetration of Judaism and Christianity.

Ron Dart

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