55 pages 1 hour read

Chaim Potok

The Chosen

Fiction | Novel | YA | Published in 1967

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Judaism and the Quest for Knowledge

Judaism and the Quest for Knowledge go together, as the main characters are devoted to Judaism, and their religion spurs them to learn, teach, and educate themselves. Danny, Reb Saunders, Reuven, and David Malter are intensely knowledgeable. Danny reads seven or eight books a week on top of covering four pages of the Talmud a day, while Reb Saunders has the brainpower to intentionally include errors in his sermons for Danny to catch. Reuven demonstrates his prowess through math and his dissection of a Talmud portion in Rav Gershenson’s class, and Reuven’s dad publishes articles, teaches, and still has the energy to give his son a mini-lecture on the history of Hasidism at night.

The intellectual might of the four primary characters dominates the book and leaves little room for other characters to develop. Their minds occupy the spotlight and the central conflict: What should a person learn? Reuven’s dad thinks a person should study the Talmud but not exclusively. His yeshiva teaches extra English classes, and he suggests books for Danny to read—books that his dad might not like. Reb Saunders thinks an upstanding Jew should almost exclusively study the Torah, declaring, “Torah is a task for all day and all night” (181).