Scholem on Buber

Today I was rereading Gershom Scholem’s From Berlin to Jerusalem: Memoirs of My Youth, and came across this criticism of Martin Buber: The laconic brevity of those rabbis, their absolute precision of expression, attracted me even more than the same quality in the Latin writers. Added to this was the dialogue of the generations, uninterrupted for so many centuries, whose protocol is the Talmud. Here truly prevailed that “dialogic” life which the later Buber so emphatically placed at the center of his philosophy, although, paradoxically enough, he remained incomprehensibly blind to this, the most genuine evidence that Jewish tradition offered to him. The continuum of the Torah onto which all remarks of the “sages” and their disciples were projected was, in the final analysis, not a truly historical medium—the religious and metaphysical assumptions on which it was based, and with which I was later to concern myself extensively, were too evident for that—but it did have a dignity and, as I was soon to find out, problems of its own.

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