Martin Buber, one of the great spiritual figures of our era, is for countless men and women throughout the world an almost legendary figure – ‘a living proof of what this life is capable of when it wills to fulfil itself fearlessly and in responsibility’. His philosophy of ‘I and Thou’, or dialogue, has had a profound effect on Christian and Jewish thinkers alike and gone far to transform contemporary theology.
In this unique treasure of Hasidism, he has recreated and introduced, together with an essay on Jewish mysticism, the classic tales of Rabbi Nachman of Bratzlav, whom Buber describes as ‘perhaps the last Jewish mystic. He stands at the end of an unbroken tradition whose beginning we do not know. For a long time men sought to deny this tradition; today it can no longer be doubted… I have not translated these stories of Rabbi Nachman, but retold them in all freedom, yet out of his spirit as it is present to me.’
Rabbi Nachman’s mystical tales are revered as much today as during his lifetime because Hasidic tales have become a source of cultural renewal for Judaism as they do not separate religious experience from daily experience. In these stories we find the universal truths of the Kabbalah.