Buber’s central question of the meaning of humanness is expressed in his recurring word Wesen (essence, being, nature), as understood in terms of two primary word-pairs: “I-You” and “I-It.” The I-You relationship is total involvement of self and other in intimacy, sharing, empathy, caring, openness, and trust. The I-It relationship consists of self viewing other in abstract terms, resulting in possession, exploitation, and distrust. The I-It pair permits the self to objectify the other, creating a state of manipulative dependency, and the I-You pair encourages an atmosphere of interdependence, permitting growth and respect. Only through genuine I-You encounters do people discover their humanity and, by mutually affirming and confirming one another, come face to face with the Eternal Thou. Realistically, Buber recognized that every I-You can become an encounter, and in his poetic Sprachdenken (“thinking in terms of language”), he counseled that one’s essential humanity is lost if one treats every You (animate and inanimate) as an It (acts of hate, killing, vandalism). “Without It man cannot live; but he who lives with It alone, is not a man.” In the area of religion, Buber insisted that any religious form that is not in the category of I-You is illicit or at least nonreligious. Thus, he was critical of Jewish Halachah (religious orthopraxy) and Christian sacraments; he believed that the nature and essence of God are not restricted to doctrines and dogmas. Buber’s classic statement on essentials is essentially existential.