It is the New Year! There is lots to celebrate and lots of new beginnings. Dare I admit that one of the great things about the new year is the new and returning fall TV lineup that I have become addicted to? (I will not share my list although it is fairly short.) As a Jewish educator, I do try to find “what’s Jewish about this” in most things that I watch, read and do so I am always open to finding connections.
There has been TV hype on Will and Grace, which I have not watched but may tune in based on an article from reformjudaism.org (and you can find the entire article at the website). The title is: “What Does Martin Buber Have to Do With Will & Grace?” by Rabbi Dennis S. Ross. Here are a few quotes from the article:
According to David Kohan, the show’s executive producer, the title “is very Jewish. There’s a theologian named Martin Buber who talked about the will to go after and the grace to receive something. It always seemed like two complementary ideas. They happened to be good names, as well.”
Martin Buber (1878-1965), German-born Jewish scholar, teacher, writer, activist and more, is best known for his classic 1923 work, I and Thou, which outlines three fundamentals: I-Thou, I-It and Eternal Thou.
According to Buber, “The Thou meets me through grace — it is not found by seeking.” In other words, I-Thou comes by “grace,” not by “will.” All you can do is be open to entering. Buber adds, I-Thou is a “grace, for which one must always be ready and one never gains as assured possession.”
The difference between having I-Thou and having I-It in any moment is beyond your control; you can only be curious, flexible, willing to care, and showing the desire to carry forward with the next person. And once I-Thou ends, as it inevitably must, it is over.
There is more in the article and definitely more in learning and understanding Buber. I suggest reading Buber (often a challenging but important read) and possibly watching the show to see if you can find the Buber connection and perhaps other Jewish connections. At the very least, I hope this sparks interesting conversations!
In this new year, we should all strive for more I-Thou moments and be open to the possibilities.