The novel treats the tension between traditional Jewish culture and modernism. Critical Essay Most of Potok's novels can be seen as the fictional sites of cultural confrontation and how that confrontation affects the people involved in them.He commented on, fought with, or dealt with the Holocaust, the atomic bomb, Picasso and Guernica, modern Biblical scholarship, and even Jewish mysticism. How was one to regard the revelation at Sinai? We pick and choose those elements of that alien culture toward which we feel a measure of affinity. We are given sophisticated discussions about the 'destroyers' versus the 'defenders' of fiction, with Flaubert, Joyce, Kafka, Conrad, Mann, Virginia Woolf and Beckett among the former, and Dostoevsky, Melville and Bellow among the latter category. Reuven Malter, the narrator of the story, is the son of a writer and scholar who follows modern methods of studying Judaism and is Orthodox. Born in the Bronx, New York, in , and raised in a Hasidic Jewish community, Chaim Potok grew up in a world of rigorous Talmudic scholarship and adherence to Jewish values, beliefs, and rituals. Chaim Potok has written in The Chosen a truly American, multicultural, multireligious, multiethnic masterpiece. The cultural confrontation is that between a minority immigrant Jewish subculture and the 'umbrella' culture as the author himself calls it of Western secular humanism; the problem for his characters is how to fuse what he terms 'core-to-core' or fundamental elements of both cultures without losing the essential nature of their own identity. With the exhibition of his two powerful, highly controversial 'Brooklyn Crucifixion' paintings, in which he has used the crucifixion motif in order to depict his sense of his mother's protracted suffering because of the tense relationship between her husband and her son, Asher Lev has outraged his parents as well as his religious community to such a degree that he is temporarily exiled. David Lurie traveled this path as a youth, where a misstep might mean hurtling into a bitter loss of faith. According to Potok, American Judaism mirrors in microcosm the tensions not only in the Western world - but by extension within any civilization - of finding a balance between the values of the past and the achievements of the present.
If You are willing to prevent evil but are not able, then You are without power. If You are able to prevent evil but are unwilling, You are cruel.
In he returned to America and settled with his family in Merion, a distinguished suburb north of Philadelphia, where he now lives in a lovely Tudor house, with a large painting studio on the second floor.
We cannot wait for God!
Potok has written scholarly and popular articles and reviews during his publishing career. After reading Waugh, he spent much of his free time over the next several years learning about writing by reading some of the great novelists, like William FaulknerMark Twain and Ernest Hemingway.This allows our team to focus on improving the library and adding new essays. The question can be illustrated, for instance, by the case of Levi Abramovich in one of Potok's early, little-known, short stories published in the same year as The Chosen called 'The Dark Place Inside', who collapses when, sixteen years after having himself narrowly escaped a Nazi mass shooting, his murdered wife's watch is returned to him. Moreover, this quest for identity and authenticity has been dramatically accentuated in our century by World War II and in particular by the Holocaust and the dropping of the atom bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. All beginnings are hard. Our task is to understand, to memorize and to give back what we had learned. Many of the dramatic tensions in the novel develop through David's father Max. David Lurie's transgressive personality bears comparison with that of Asher Lev, the brilliant young artist in the novel carrying his name in the title. After having visited that 'black hole in history' himself in the fall of Potok has been quoted as saying that Auschwitz is the place where God never was. The question of the right kind of approach is fought over to the death by all parties concerned, especially by one of the teachers, Rabbi Rav Kalman, a Holocaust survivor, who torments his mind, wondering: If one accepted the possibility of changing the text of the Talmud, then what might happen to the laws that were based upon these texts? Can you explain how and why they differ?
There are some questions that do not have good answers. In The Promise Potok follows the same two characters into adulthood. Moreover, he is confronted with a personal as well as an artistic mid-life crisis since his critics have strongly criticized his recent paintings for repeating themselves too much.
It has never been Potok's aim to create true-to-life characters however realistic they may appearflawless plots and mimetic dialogues but as argued above to present the emotional, intellectual and moral impact of cultural conflict, as well as philosophical questioning, on his characters.
For the middle-aged protagonists of The Trope Teacher and The Canal their Jewish background is mainly a thing of the past; neither of them is any longer religiously observant.He will always be enshrined in our memory books for his deeply probing and carefully and wonderfully written evocations of the world that he knew. He wanted his son to understand the meaning of pain and want, so he shut him out emotionally. This conflict is portrayed in and central to The Chosen. The Chosenwe encounter a cultural confrontation between the closed, fundamentalist world of ultra-orthodox Judaism in which the brilliant young boy, Danny Saunders, son of a patriarchal Hasidic rabbi who has imposed a gulf of silence between himself and his son to educate him into pain is brought up, and the more enlightened upbringing of his friend, Reuven Malter, whose father indirectly helps Danny to become acquainted with some of the great texts of Western scholarship, notably the works of Charles Darwin and Sigmund Freud. During that time, he made a number of trips to Japan, which turned out to be a crucial experience since it forced him to rethink his religious and cultural position. At the end, one has to agree that The Chosen—about two kinds of Jews, about the divisions between Orthodoxy and Hasidism—is also a very American novel. Potok was a world-class writer and scholar. Reuven Malter, the narrator of the story, is the son of a writer and scholar who follows modern methods of studying Judaism and is Orthodox. It is the task of the fathers to pass on the Jewish heritage to their obedient sons. As a young man, he must start anew and define his own path of personal belief that diverges sharply with his devout father and everything he has been taught Amazon. In an interview Potok has said that all of his books came about 'as a result of that moment in time when I stood in Hiroshima, trying to figure out where I was and what I was doing there, and what it all really meant to me'.