Term papers writing service


A review of chaim potoks the chosen

The Filing Cabinet

Brothers Judd Top 100 of the 20th Century: Novels 4 Author Info: Chaim Potok 1929- Two boys lives become intertwined when Reuven Malter is struck in the eye and nearly blinded by a line drive off the bat of Danny Saunders, during a fiercely contested baseball game between Malter's Orthodox Jewish high school team and Saunder's Hasidic yeshiva. The boys, sixteen at the time of the game, live in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn in the 1940's.

Reuven, whose widowed father is a professor and something of a liberal humanist who uses scientific methods to study the Torah, is bright and gifted in mathematics.

Danny, a true genius with a photographic memory, is the son of Rabbi Isaac Saunders, a tzaddikwhose Hasidic followers view him as a God's messenger, a bridge from them to God. The post is hereditary and Danny is being rigorously, even brutally, prepared for the day when he will take over.

It also includes a traditional silent upbringing--Danny's father hardly ever speaks to him about anything other than Talmud. The relationship between Danny and Reuven is guarded at first. The Hasids view the merely Orthodox Jews as goyim or apikorsim, that is practically as heretics. Danny had only been able to convince his father to sanction a team by promising that the sect would gain status by crushing the apikorsim, hence the ferocity of his play.

But when Danny comes to the hospital to apologize for what he acknowledges was a deliberate attempt to harm him, David Malter urges his son: The Talmud says that a person should do two things for himself. One is to acquire a teacher. Do you remember the other. You know what a friend is, Reuven? A Greek philosopher said that two people who are true friends are like two bodies with one soul. I am not talking about only liking him. He is strongly drawn to the study of Freudian psychiatry and does not wish to succeed his father.

  1. Danny is torn between following his passion for secular knowledge and assuming his dynastic role as the next rabbi of his sect.
  2. At first glance, they seem as different to the reader as they seem to each other. What does it mean to have to suffer so much if our lives are nothing more than the blink of an eye?
  3. Danny suffers emotionally because of internal conflicts, as well as the parenting style his father uses to raise him—silence as a way to teach compassion. The lure of intellectual and artistic self-emancipation put him at odds with his family, and the Orthodox faith itself, though, as a novelist, he wrote warmly of the possibility of an undistracted faith, simple and pure.
  4. Reuven, whose widowed father is a professor and something of a liberal humanist who uses scientific methods to study the Torah, is bright and gifted in mathematics.
  5. At first, he doubted whether there were likely to be many readers for a story about two teenage boys in an Orthodox Jewish world, whose fathers represented alternative Judaisms.

It is later revealed that David Malter was aware of this because he had seen Danny often in the local library and, at Danny's request, had recommended books for him to read. Danny's father eventually admits that he is aware of this too, and he uses Reuven as a vehicle to communicate with and learn more about his own son.

  1. But otherwise he doesn't say much.
  2. My reason for immensely liking the novel might be briefly personal.
  3. After demobilisation, Potok taught at Jewish academic establishments in Los Angeles and Philadelphia until the mid-1960s, when he took a PhD in philosophy at the University of Pennsylvania. Danny had only been able to convince his father to sanction a team by promising that the sect would gain status by crushing the apikorsim, hence the ferocity of his play.
  4. But even when Danny was still very young, Reb Saunders realized that in his boy the dazzling intellect was growing into the dominant force.
  5. But that is the way the world is. So it may be asked what value is there to a human life.

The two boys attend college together, Samson Raphael Hirsch Seminary and College, Danny studying experimental psychology Freudianism is neither accepted nor taught there and Reuven studying philosophy. The natural tensions between the Orthodox and the Hasidim are exacerbated by their differing responses to the Holocaust and the creation of Israel.

Questions?

Men like Reuven's father become committed Zionists, but Reb Saunders insists that the Holocaust must be the will of God and that only with the coming of the Messiah can Jews reestablish the nation of Israel.

This sudden separation comes at an especially difficult time; David Malter's health is in decline as a result of overwork and the approach of graduation means that Danny will have to confront his father with his desire to earn a doctorate in psychology rather than accept his hereditary role. It also causes Reuven to hate Reb Saunders, whose silence towards Danny had always seemed cruel to him.

But as the nation of Israel becomes a fait accompli and in the face of violence by Arabs against the Israelis, the Hasids relax their opposition to the Zionists.

Reuven and Danny are reconciled in time for the surprising final confrontation between the Saunders, at which Reuven is once more the medium for communication between the Reb and his son.

  • Danny is driven to violence in a baseball game due to pent-up anguish over his pre-determined life as successor to his father;
  • In the end, his father relents, accepting Danny's promise to remain loyal to Torah.

This is a wonderful and warm hearted novel, a coming of age story, an immigrants tale, most of all a novel of ideas. At one point David Malter tells his son: We live less than the time it takes to blink an eye, if we measure our lives against eternity. So it may be asked what value is there to a human life. There is so much pain in the world.

Chaim Potok

What does it mean to have to suffer so much if our lives are nothing more than the blink of an eye? But the eye that blinks, that is something. A span of life is nothing. But the man who lives that span, he is something. He can fill that tiny span with meaning, so its quality is immeasurable though its quantity may be insignificant. Do you understand what I am saying?

A man must fill his life with meaning, meaning is not automatically given to life. It is hard work to fill one's life with meaning. That I do not think you understand yet. A life filled with meaning is worthy of rest. I want to be worthy of rest when I am no longer here. Reb Saunders has found meaning in serving God and his followers, but the others have sought meaning in reason rather than faith.

David Malter finds meaning, and hopes to give the Holocaust itself some meaning, in his political work as a Zionist.

But as these four men interact, the sons, whose interests must be seen at least in part as intellectualized reactions against traditional faith, realize just how hard both fathers, but particularly Reb Saunders, have worked to fill their lives and their sons' lives with meaning.

In the final pages Danny's father reveals the reason why he undertook such a demanding means of rearing his son. First he explains his duty as a father: A man is born into this world with only a tiny spark of goodness in him. The spark is God, it is the soul; the rest is ugliness and evil, a shell.

The spark must be guarded like a treasure, it must be nurtured, it must be fanned into flame. It must learn to seek out other sparks, it must dominate the shell. But even when Danny was still very young, Reb Saunders realized that in his boy the dazzling intellect was growing into the dominant force: I cried inside my heart.

The Chosen

I went away and cried to the Master of the Universe, 'What have you done to me? A mind like this I need for a son? A heart I need for a son, a soul I need for a son, compassion I want from my son, righteousness, mercy, strength to suffer and carry pain, that I want from my son, not a mind without a soul!

This figure who has seemed so inscrutable, even fanatical, emerges as one of the most human and decent characters in all of literature. This is an extraordinary book, one of the truly great American novels. I can't recommend it highly enough.