The Lesson of Chaim Potok’s The Chosen

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The Lesson of The Chosen The Chosen, written by Chaim Potok, is about two boys from different religious sects that become friends despite all of their conflicts. Danny and Reuven participated in a baseball game against each other and Danny smacked the ball directly into Reuven's face, shattered his glasses, and a piece of glass penetrated his eye. Danny went to visit him in the hospital but, before he could say anything, Reuven started screaming at Danny and commanded him to leave while Danny only wanted to say that he was sorry. When Reuven's eye healed, Danny went over to Reuven's house and they apologized and forgave each other. From then on Danny and Reuven help each other achieve their foremost important ambition in life. Reb Saunders poses an important question, "How can we raise ourselves above the dust?" which is the main theme in the novel. Danny searches for intellectual truth, Reb Saunders, Danny's father, tried to become as spiritual as possible while still on this earth, and Reuven desires to help other people. Danny Saunders yearned for more knowledge other then Talmud and wanted to raise his intellectuality higher then what he obtained in his isolated world. He learned Talmud most of the day and "After a while it gets a little boring"(69). The first time Danny met Reuven properly, Rueven was astonished because, " [Danny] recited about a third of [a] page [of Talmud] word for word, including the commentaries and the Maimonidean legal decisions of the Talmudic disputations. He did it coldly, mechanically, and, listening to him, [Reuven] had the feeling [he] was watching a sort of human machine at work"(69). He studies Talmud as if it were involuntary. Danny himself sometimes even "...gets the feeling we are all ants" because he has the same routine everyday, and learns Talmud over and over as if he was programmed. Also, ants do not do what they wish but are programmed and have natural instinct. This is beneficial in some ways, because if they all do the same thing their work pays off. They are capable of building magnificent mounds that are amazing knowing that they are still ants and if it is destroyed they can speedily and sufficiently rebuild it exactly as it were before.

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