The Chosen

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We are only half alive in this world! Albert Einstein is part of the world…President Roosevelt is part of the world. The millions of soldiers fighting Hitler are part of the world. Weeks before the accident which brings the two boys together, Mr. At least this way he has some direction from an adult. Malter and Reb Saunders are, in some ways, antithetical characters.

Malter, overwhelming grief is followed by a determination to counter the senseless suffering of the millions who died with something meaningful: What does it mean to suffer so much if our lives are nothing more than the blink of an eye? A man must fill his life with meaning; meaning is not automatically given to life. It will have meaning only if we give it meaning. It is the will of God. We must accept the will of God! While Reb Saunders suffers, Danny struggles to educate himself in the ideas of Freud and in the problems of contemporary Judaism. He combines the double load of schoolwork and the rigorous study of Talmud which forms the basis of his relation to his father, with his own attempts to educate himself in his quest for identity.

Reuven, too, is seen to spend many hours of his day in study. There is a passion for learning in these two characters, one that is shaped by the religion itself. To study Talmud is to engage in scholarly work, the novel shows. There are lines of religious text and there are commentaries written by the various rabbis whose opinions are included in Talmud. Each father, Hasidic rabbi or free-thinking scholar, finds joy in the knowledge that his son will surpass him in scholarly achievements. It is his passion to know, to know the world and to know himself that ultimately leads Danny to reject Hasidism.

He comes to see that the world of his father is too restricted; he begins to feel trapped. I respect him and trust him completely, which is why I think I can live with his silence. And I pity him, too. He was born trapped. I scream with every bone in my body to get out of it.

My mind cries to get out of it. Danny has decided to get out of the life that imprisons him; he will take off the clothing and shun the trappings of the Hasid, go on to graduate school, and become a psychologist. When he has resolved to do this, Mr. Before Danny can confront his father, however, his father confronts him. Using Reuven as a foil through whom to speak to his son, Reb Saunders reveals that he knows his son will not become a rabbi. Here there are libraries and books and schools. Here there are great universities that do not concern themselves with how many Jewish students they have.

I knew in my heart that it might prevent him from taking my place. I had to make certain his would be the soul of a tzaddik no matter what he did with his life. And it is important to know of pain…It destroys our self pride, our arrogance, our indifference towards others. And of all people a tzaddik especially must know of pain. A tzaddik must know how to suffer for his people. He must take the pain from them and carry it on his own shoulders. I did not see the letters from the universities?

I do not see his eyes? I do not hear his soul crying? Let my Daniel become a psychologist. I have no fear now. All his life will be a tzaddik. He will be a tzaddik for the world. And the world needs a tzaddik.

The Chosen Reader’s Guide

In a sense we come to see how much the two fathers of this novel share; how they value similar qualities in their sons: And although for Reb Saunders compassion is viewed as the ability to suffer, to internalize the pain which has always surrounded Jews in the world, for Mr. Malters it is not enough to suffer; suffering must be wedded to work, to action which will redeem the meaningless of the evil that is always in the world. It is this work which Danny comes to seek, which he chooses, not freely, but with great anguish as he breaks the tradition that demands he become a tzaddik for a small community of Jews and establishes a new role for himself as tzaddik for the world.

Identify the time and place in which the action of the novel is set, and the circumstances that cause Reuven and Danny to meet. Why does Danny consider Reuven and his classmates "apikorsim"?

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What are some of the things Reuven learns about Danny during the hospital visit? What does the reader learn about Mr. How does this clarify his reasons for wanting Reuven to become friends with Danny? What does Danny reveal to Reuven that he has never told to anyone before? Why do you think he feels able to do so?

Book II Chapter 6 1. What does Reuven learn from his father about the following aspects of Jewish history: Why do certain Hasids believe their leaders must take the sufferings of the Jewish people upon themselves? How does the author demonstrate the way in which the Hasidic community reveres Danny? A the world and what it does to Jews, B life on earth, and C the study of the Torah? Malter justify providing books for Danny which his father and Hasidim forbid him to read? Under what circumstances do Danny and his father communicate?

How is the explanation for this aspect of their relationship given? How is the study of the Talmud shown to be a central activity in the lives of both Reuven and Danny? What is it he is trying to learn about in this study? How does the author convey the information that Americans did not know about the German concentration camps until after Germany had surrendered? Compare it to Mr. Book III Chapter 13 1. Discuss the reactions of Mr. Malter and Reb Saunders to the establishment of a Jewish homeland in Palestine.

Tell what each does and says with his grief. Meaning is not automatically given to life. What causes Reuven and his father to be "excommunicated" from the Saunders family? How does Danny react? What does Reuven understand about his teacher, Rev Gershenson, when he is unable to find his name listed in either the Hebrew or English catalogues of his college library?

Why do Reuven and his father "weep with joy" when the United Nations votes to accept the Partition Plan? What does this mean for Mr. Describe the method Reuven uses to study the nine lines of text he is certain Rev Gershenson will question him on.

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  6. What does Rev Gershenson addmit about the passage of Talmud he has asked Reuven to explain and about the way Reuben has attempted to explain it? Why does Danny now resume his friendship with Reuven? What does this show about his ties with his father? What advice does Mr. Malter give Danny about telling his father he has decided to become a psychologist? Why is this such a significant decision? What are its possible consequences?

    What does it mean that all his life Danny will be "a tzaddik…a tzaddik for the world"? For what and of whom does Reb Saunders ask forgiveness? How had you expected him to react? What does it reveal about Danny that he has decided he will raise his own son "in silence"? They learned it inside and out, and my own mind was screaming inside and out, yet I also knew that this way of learning could be applied to other curriculums. It is just that have grown sick of religion over the years, over my own struggles to find answers in life.

    I am sick of the shunning that goes on in them, of the righteousness, of believing that your religion is right and all others can go to hell or wherever their lack of faith takes them. I wanted to read a book about Jewish boys growing up in Brooklyn, N. I thought more along the lines of their playing, not baseball, but in the creeks catching pollywogs. I also thought more along the line of their stealing apples out of a fruit stand that was outside of a store. But then I thought about my own Jewish friends who were in college, and none of us where interested in anything other than college, and well, men.

    We were past the age of pollywogs, but as I grew older I came back to the pollywogs. As I read this book I saw how the American Jews reacted to the end of WWII when they learned that 6 million Jews had been murdered with many being gassed and then burned in incinerators. My mind went back to two weeks ago when my husband and I were driving past a funeral home, and the smoke was coming out of the chimney of the crematorium; I cringed, thinking of those gas chambers in Auschwitz. I thought how uncivilized it was and how horrible to have it at the edge of our town. Maybe there is a reason that hell is beneath the earth.

    Yet we must care for everyone and not limit ourselves. And as the years went by in my own life, as I learned more about humankind, I grew to believe that there is nothing that man cannot and will not do to another human being once he considers him his enemy. But both religion and politics divides us like this, and other expectations do as well, and there is probably no way to get around it.

    Still, I have to hold on to the belief that some men will never change; they will always remain humane. Now, American politics reminds me of how Hitler came to power, and while I still read non-fiction books, when things get too heavy in regards to the news, I like to pick up a book about childhood memories; it is my own therapy.

    This book was not therapy. But America, outside of the men and women in the military, has not faced war in their homeland since the Civil War, and I know that some Americans fear that this can happen here, or that our world will just be blown up.


    No one does that has not experienced it. Oct 14, Poiema rated it it was amazing Shelves: The Jewish Talmud exhorts a man to do two things for himself. First, acquire a teacher. The other is to choose a friend. Danny Saunders got the package deal when he made the acquaintance of Reuven Malter. Theirs is a Jonathan and David friendship, the two-bodies-with-one-soul type of friendship that happens rarely in a lifetime. As the oldest son of the tzaddik righteous leader of a strict, Hasidic Jewish sect, Danny is the chosen.

    Upon the death of his father, he will be expected to step up as The Jewish Talmud exhorts a man to do two things for himself. Upon the death of his father, he will be expected to step up as head of the dynasty. Thus his father, the brilliant but eccentric Reb Saunders, focuses his full attention upon the proper upbringing of his son. But what is a proper upbringing for a genius? Listen to the agonizing dilemma of Danny's father: 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. Indifference, laziness, brutality, and genius. Yes, even a great mind can be a shell and choke the spark. Reuven, the Master of the Universe blessed me with a brilliant son. And he cursed me with all the problems of raising him. Ah, what it is to have a brilliant son! Not a smart son, Reuven, but a brilliant son, a Daniel, a boy with a mind like a jewel.

    Ah, what a curse it is, what an anguish it is to have a Daniel, whose mind is like a pearl, like a sun. Reuven, when my Daniel was four years old, I saw him reading a story from a book. And I was frightened. There was no soul in my four-year-old Daniel, there was only his mind. He was a mind in a body without a soul. It was a story in a Yiddish book about a poor Jew and his struggles to get to Eretz Yisroel before he died.

    Ah, how that man suffered! And my Daniel enjoyed the story, he enjoyed the last terrible page, because when he finished it he realized for the first time what a memory he had. He looked at me proudly and told me back the story from memory, and I cried inside my heart. 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!

    He chooses to raise him in silence. Except for weekly dialogue over the Talmud and Torah, no words pass between father and son. Though it seems cruel, it is the father's best hope that the suffering it creates will fan into flame that spark of a soul that lies within Danny. Reuven becomes the counter-balance for Danny's relationship with his father.

    As a more liberal Jew, Reuven is able to bring a rational element into an otherwise emotionally volatile situation. Without their friendship, it is easy to see that Danny would crumple either from rage or simply from the heavy load of expectation he carries as a burden. Ultimately, Reb Saunders can claim at least partial victory for his son's upbringing.

    Danny will break the the multi-generational traditions of his ancestors; he will not step into the chosen role of Tzaddik. Rather, he will be a "tzaddik for the world", a different kind of a healer in his chosen field of psychology. But he will remain a practicing Jew, a man with a soul in whom the spark of life burns brightly. I loved this book. It was fascinating to look behind the scenes at the traditions of the most orthodox sect of Judaism. The Jews have remained a people apart, separate from the nations. This story gives a glimpse of the challenges they incurred as a people group after WWII.

    The struggle was to keep their traditions intact, but at the same time to acclimate to their new home country of America. View all 4 comments. Aug 24, Emily rated it liked it Shelves: I'm really struggling with how to review this book. It was beautifully written. The relationships between Danny and Reuven and between Reuven and his father were real and touching. I enjoyed learning about different systems of Jewish faith and the interactions or lack thereof between their communities. The historic insights into WWII and its aftermath, particularly the realization among American Jews of the extent of the Holocaust and the formation of the state of Israel, were fascinating.

    But I'm really struggling with how to review this book. His explanation toward the end of the book didn't really help. It was obvious that he loved his son and was incredibly proud of him, and that he truly believed that he made the best choice he could at the time in how to raise his son with a soul, though he admitted when asking for forgiveness from Danny, "A wiser father And I was especially disheartened that Danny said he may raise his own son in silence, too, "if I can't find another way.

    There are better ways to teach compassion, even to intellectual geniuses like Danny. For more book reviews, visit my blog, Build Enough Bookshelves. Jul 05, Elisabeth rated it it was amazing Recommends it for: My brother Matt suggested this book, and I'm very glad that I read it. And glad that he was there to fill me in a little more on the history it brings up. It is very well written, and enjoyable as well as educational.

    It helped me better understand the Jewish faith and branches of Judaism, the horror of WWII, what is unique about American Jews, and some of the conflict over the Israel as a Jewish state. Leaves you with a warm feeling and lots to think about. One is to acquire a teacher Apr 14, Alex rated it liked it Shelves: There are a lot of Jewish people in Brooklyn. One of them is my wife, but most of them aren't. They're both conservative; one major difference is that Hasidic Jews are anti-Israel, for complicated and dumb reasons. I only heard about Chaim Potok and this book recently, which surprised my wife; for her, The Chosen was a core high school text.

    There's a lot of attention to analysis of the Talmud, a dizzying body of arcane arguments about religious details.

    Some bookish men from both traditions dedicate their lives to learning about this stuff, which seems like a shame; here are these perfectly good readers who are not reading Middlemarch. If you want to know more about all that, you'll love this book. I found it interesting, mostly. They respect each other, but disagree vehemently. Danny's father, in a story so crazy it must be true, hasn't spoken to him since he was an infant; they discuss Talmud together but otherwise don't communicate at all.

    He's trying to teach him compassion. I suggested to my wife that we try this with our kid, and she was like "Good luck keeping your mouth shut for more than thirty seconds," which is a decent point. It's a glimpse into a foreign and exotic world, even though it's like two neighborhoods away from me, and it's all interesting but it feels a little "young adult" to me. The story is written in simple language, and the message is overstated to make sure you don't miss anything.

    I don't think it's particularly great literature. The Chosen is undoubtedly a very character-driven novel. The entire focus of the book is the friendship between two boys, and the relationship they have with their fathers. Which I thought would be super great to read about! I loved the theme of fathers and sons.

    The Chosen

    And I loved how Reuven and his Father interacted with each other in a close relationship. It was really sad and frustrating. Speaking of silence, it was also a major theme here, especially at the end. Everything the author said about silence was kinda ridiculous? He taught me with silence.

    He taught me to look into myself, to find my own strength, to walk around inside myself in company with my soul. Finding your own strength? The Bible clearly contradicts teachings like these ones. Which is strange because I normally love character driven stories? But literally nothing happened here. Basically my 1 emotion here is: I feel like this book drew on philosophical threads and then expected me to come to some sort of profound conclusion.

    And what was going on with Danny again? I mean he was basically like a genius, I think? And he likes to read things. And for some reason he wants to be a psychologist, which also annoyed me. XD However, the good news is despite my confusion, I did learn some cool things!! This was a book that was jam packed full of historical facts. XD So thank you Mr. Potok for blowing that false perception out of the water. Apparently whatever happened there was very feelsy.

    I probably wouldn't recommend this to anyone, just because of the philosophy in here and how un-biblical it was. For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: View all 6 comments. Jul 16, Paul rated it it was amazing Recommends it for: Well, I just finished this book last night and I must say I was deeply moved by the whole experience. I remembered there was a reason I liked it so much back in high school. I love the relationship between the two main characters, Danny and Reuven.

    They've reminded me that there are definite friendships that I cherish highly, and that true friends are hard to come by. But when they do, you know in your heart that you will never leave them for the rest of your life. I guess after reading this, i Well, I just finished this book last night and I must say I was deeply moved by the whole experience. I guess after reading this, it's made me sit back and just realize that I do cherish and love my friends and that without them, I wouldn't be able to get through this life. I really like the parts of the book where it focuses on the relationship between the two boys and their respective fathers.

    You can tell each father loves his son immensely, but in different ways. I also like re-learning all the things about the Jewish community, at least as much as Chaim Potok talks about. Not being Jewish, I've found a lot of the history that I didn't know about and the Jewish customs so very intriguing.

    I've definitely been enlightened by this book, which I consider a good thing. Potok's writing is very direct as well as descriptive, and he has such a great way of writing. And there were one or two chapters that I was so moved by his writing, that I did indeed become a little teary-eyed. I highly recommend this book, especially if you want to reaffirm what true friendship means to you.

    Jan 05, R. Rodda rated it it was amazing Shelves: The story of an extraordinary friendship between two boys raised by parents with opposing views about how best to practise the Jewish faith. One boy is a genius whose father will go to extreme lengths to preserve his faith in God. I still shake my head at his actions but the power of this story is that it is not only unforgettable but it opens the curtain on Hasidic culture and contrasts it with the more modern but still devout Jew.

    A fascinating story, a page-turning friendship, and a rite of p The story of an extraordinary friendship between two boys raised by parents with opposing views about how best to practise the Jewish faith. A fascinating story, a page-turning friendship, and a rite of passage with the boys becoming men on two very different paths by the end.

    Apr 01, Carol Brill rated it really liked it. I was charmed by Reuven and Danny, and their ability to bridge differences to nurture their loyal friendship. That and how the author creates a strong sense of time and the orthodox Jewish culture and lifestyle in the mid 's engaged me. Some parts of the book were harder for me to enjoy. I slogged through many of religious details and history and the lectures and debates. I loved Reuven's relationship with his father.

    Danny's with his was hard to fathom and heartbreaking. The non-religious his I was charmed by Reuven and Danny, and their ability to bridge differences to nurture their loyal friendship. The non-religious history, especially the country's response to Roosevelt's death, the discovery of the horror of the concentration camps, and the resulting Zionist movement moved me and kept my interest.

    Jul 22, Melissa McShane rated it it was amazing Shelves: This book holds up so well to multiple re-readings. It's a story of friendship, of family love, of the relationships between fathers and sons, set against the background of Hasidic Judaism. This time, I'm unconvinced that raising a child in silence, as Danny's father does, will result in a compassionate child, but I am moved by Danny's struggle to be both himself and what his father and his father's followers need him to be. Reuven, the narrator, serves both as a channel for what the reader who This book holds up so well to multiple re-readings.

    Reuven, the narrator, serves both as a channel for what the reader who can't be presumed to know anything about Orthodox Jews needs to learn and as a support for the brilliant Danny, without being diminished by his best friend's brilliance. In fact, Reuven's complementary abilities keep Danny from being unbelievable in his intellectual flawlessness; Danny acknowledges that he and Reuven think differently, and one of my favorite scenes is a class in which Reuven takes four days to explicate a difficult passage of the Talmud while Danny silently cheers him on.

    It's a brilliant book, emotionally challenging, and one I will no doubt come back to again. Aug 23, Mike Puma rated it really liked it Shelves: It is small wonder that Potok's inspiration for writing came from reading Brideshead Revisted. Reuven's narration, particularly the ways he describes Danny, is a virtual textbook case of repressed desire.

    This repression is consistent with one of the novel's themes: Having read this book, originally, many years ago, I did not pick up on Reuven's infatuation in the same way I've since come to recognize. In that regard, rereading The Chosen as an adult is much like rereading The Picture of Dorian Gray as an adult--with more experience, each becomes a very different novel. View all 5 comments. Oct 18, Lucy rated it really liked it Recommends it for: I love how Chaim Potok is able to create a story about so many different things.

    There are dozens of topics within his books to discuss, enjoy and ponder, but he manages to twist and turn his story, so at its end, you get the Rubik's cube sides all neatly back to the same color. Danny Saunders, a genius boy with a photographic memory, is destined to take hi I love how Chaim Potok is able to create a story about so many different things.

    The Chosen by Chaim Potok - Teacher's Guide - Books

    Danny Saunders, a genius boy with a photographic memory, is destined to take his father's place as the community tzaddik, or spiritual leader of Hasidic Jews. To teach his son compassion, he parents him with silence, like his father did before him, and the only time father and son talk is when they discuss the Talmud, a Jewish book consisting of different rabbi's discussions of Jewish laws and ethics.

    But, the father-son relationship is only one side of the thematically complicated but narratively simple story. There is much food for thought about friendship "You think it is easy to be a friend? If you are truly his friend, you will learn otherwise" which Danny's father, Reb Saunders, tells the narrator of the story, Reuven Malter, and certainly proves to be true. There is a fantastic development about the Zionist movement, and the opposition within the Jewish community against Israel to be created after the second World War.

    There is an interesting, albeit outdated, flirtation with psychology and Freudism. And much, much more I find that one of Potok's greatest achievements is his ability to narrowly write a story that happens in a close, sheltered environment about a specific religious belief, and have it easily apply to many different beliefs and situations. I found myself thinking to myself most of today about how this story, about a community of ultra-orthodox Hasidic Jews, has a lot in common with my current community.

    The characters in the story are living and functioning in an almost self-contained environment. Their schools are Jewish. Their sports teams are Jewish. Their stores, hospitals, friends and neighborhoods are Jewish. The conflict is not "us vs. They don't see the world around them. Like poor Reb Saunders had to discover by isolating his son from his best friend, and what David Saunders knew, but didn't have the courage to proclaim, good exists in all shapes and sizes and from all walks of life.

    It exists down the street, where perhaps the homes aren't matching brown stucco craftsman style. It exists at the other school. It exists in literature and areas of study and even at the church with the different shaped spire. There is goodness everywhere. This belief of mine is fundamentally different from Reb Saunders, who explained that each person is born with a tiny spark of goodness which is enveloped in a shell of ugly and evil. It is the responsibility of the parent, the church, the community to protect that spark, encourage it, feed it so that it can grow and expand to eventually fill the shell and push out the evil.

    While there is certainly plenty of evil surrounding us all, I think it only gets more bold and has more room to grow when we huddle around our goodness. It, goodness, is bigger than we allow it to be. We need to link goodness to goodness and charge down the street, all ablaze together. Kind of a tangent, but I love books that make me go off down one. I can't say this book is a favorite, because it didn't make me feel the way a book needs to, but I'm certainly glad I've read it and happily encourage anyone who hasn't to do so.

    Today I discussed this all-male book with a small group of all-male max security prisoners. They liked it, fascinated by the details of Jewish life and customs, and were eager to talk about the dynamics between fathers and sons. We had a great conversation about why the first fifth of the book is taken with a description of a baseball game.

    This is one of the few books I know, and certainly the most popular, that makes Talmud study sexy. One prisoner hoped that the Hasidic Danny and the Modern O Today I discussed this all-male book with a small group of all-male max security prisoners. One reader stumped me at the end of our session: Why does the Talmud say that silence is more valuable than words? Jul 01, Alina rated it it was amazing Recommends it for: I read the Asher Lev books in high school and loved them, but this was great in a whole different way.

    The book, in addition to being well written, gave a great history of the Jewish issues and polarization after WWII, with the fight to create a Jewish state. Fascinating way to get a glimpse of American Jewish history in the guise of fiction. Also fun to learn some new Yiddish words. May 01, Sara rated it it was amazing. Re-reading in July Review from first reading in May What an interesting education I received from this book!

    The Chosen Episode 1 "Memory Loss"

    I learned so much about the nuances of the Jewish faith and the challenges they faced during and after World War II. I never knew of the Jewish resistance to the Israel state. I also found myself greatly engaged and intrigued by the origins of Hassidic Judaism.

    In addition to being extremely fascinating and highly educational, this book caused great reflection for my own life. W Re-reading in July While we grow to love Ruven and Danny and their fathers and get lost in their stories, this book also allows the reader to consider carefully how these life lessons can be applied to our own lives.

    A very well-written, highly didactic and compellingly self reflective text. Jun 06, Anne rated it really liked it. Think you got a great education? Follow these teenage boys as they learn about one another, their faith and their relationship with their fathers. The rigorous studying that they do is foreign to today's youth. A classic in so many ways. In questo quadro travagliato Reuven e Danny, figli di un rabbino progressista e di un rabbino chassidim, fanno amicizia.

    Il romanzo racconta come i due ragazzi trovano la loro strada nel mondo. Le ultime pagine, in cui il padre di Danny ha un colloquio coi due ragazzi, sono particolarmente belle e illuminanti. Questi ultimi sono ebrei moderati, degli apicorsim , eretici, per i chassidim. Rewen e Danny sono dotati entrambi di una mente brillante, sono curiosi, amano leggere e studiare, vogliono conoscere e capire il mondo.

    Con questo romanzo Potok ci introduce in un mondo complesso. Jun 06, Kelsey rated it did not like it. I just wasn't really into it. I understood it and stuff, I just think there are better books. Sep 20, Vivian rated it it was amazing Shelves: This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. My five sisters have been reading it, along with our father. Two weeks ago we had an animated discussion about it on a conference call.

    I was supposed to have finished reading it but had barely begun. We are all to write an essay and share our thoughts. We are having another conference call tomorrow evening to discuss our essays and here I am just making a beginning. They meet by chance in a neighborhood baseball game. They are key players on opposing teams. Reuven's team expects to win. Danny's team intends to win. Reuven is a skilled pitcher and Danny is an aggressive hitter. As it happens, Danny hits one of Reuven's curve balls straight at him and Reuven fails to duck as Danny had anticipated he would.

    Reuven is wearing glasses and the ball hits him full force in the eye. A piece of lens penetrates Reuven's eye and he is taken to a hospital. The very tool which enabled Reuven to see is now the implement of possible blindness in that eye. The loss of one eye affects ability to perceive perspective. The reader may guess at this point that Reuven has been perfectly satisfied with how he has seen his world up to this point. Our "worldview" is clear and uncluttered.

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    Perhaps, in actuality, we too suffer from lack of perspective. Perhaps we are only half-seeing, or are blind in one eye. Perhaps the lens through which we shape our world view is faulty. Are we in the same place, metaphorically, that Reuven finds himself in, sitting on a bench waiting for the game to end?

    I began to suspect the author was steering me, the reader, towards opening my eyes to something. I found the game of baseball to be a metaphor of the world at war. I found the hospital to be another metaphor of the world. Reuven meets a former boxer, an Italian. Reuven observes a little Irish boy persuade the injured boxer to play with him. This act of charity will cost the boxer his eye.

    Reuven meets a non-Jewish boy who is blind due to an accident. The boy is hopeful a surgery will restore his vision. So, in this one ward of the hospital we meet persons from many nations and walks of life, all cheering for one another and hoping for restored sight. Sometimes charity brings disastrous consequences. Sometimes hope is unfulfilled. It takes courage to stay the course. The danger for Reuven was that the scar tissue would grow over his pupil and thus rob him of his sight.

    During his short stay in the hospital Danny came to visit him to apologize. Reuven was angry and unforgiving at first. Then Reuven's father asked him to listen to Danny and to be his friend. As it happens, Reuven's father has already met Danny and knows something about him. Danny comes from a very Orthodox family whose father is an important rabbi or, more accurately, a tzaddik. Reuven's father has observed that Danny is more than brilliant. Danny is an intellectual phenomenon. Reuven is brilliant in his own right, enough so that he and Danny can understand one another.

    In fact, both boys find themselves to be a little apart from their peers--Reuven from the watershed moment of the near loss of his eye and Danny because of who he is, what is expected of him, and how he is being raised. These boys become good friends, despite their many differences. The author chronicles this friendship for the reader over their next four years. During this time World War II comes to an end and the chilling sobering horrifying fact that six million European Jews perished in Hitler's wake came to be known. Reuven's father becomes politically active in the effort to form a Jewish State -- a place that Jews could call a homeland, where they could find sanctuary.

    Danny's father felt just as strongly that this state was not a viable solution unless it was established by the coming of the Messiah. The American Jewish community was divided into these two camps. Throughout these years Danny's father never speaks directly to Danny. When Reuven's father was in the hospital due to a heart attack, Reuven found silence to be by turns empty, oppressive, and lonely. Reuven could not imagine life with a father who never chatted about the events of the day or instructed or comforted or counseled.

    Reuven grew to despise Danny's father for what he was doing to his friend. In fact, Reuven comes to hate Danny's father for the silence, especially when it extends to his requiring Danny to ignore Reuven completely because of the polarity of their families regarding the State of Israel. Danny, however, respects his father and his father's wishes and trusts that there is a reason for all of this that will come to light eventually.

    Here again is another metaphor. Danny's father was silent to Danny. So too was the "Master of the Universe" silent to His children. Danny's father trusted that there was something to be learned from this silence and he hoped also that Danny would learn compassion and charity through learning to listen and notice and pay attention. Reuven's father also prompts Reuven to "listen", even if he doesn't want to. The author guides the reader through the sense of hearing, or listening. The author also introduces the reader to light.

    The author takes great pains to describe light through Reuven's eyes.

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