The Chosen


Word Count: 451

The Chosen, by Chaim Potok, is a book about
friendship between two boys from vastly different religious
Jewish backgrounds. Their initial distrust and hatred for each
other because of their differing backgrounds gives way to
undestanding, and develops into a deep friendship. Danny
Saunders is brought up in a Chasidic environment. His father
is the Rabbi of his synagogue and sect, and is well respected
as a great Tzaddik and a Talmud Scholar. His ancestors for
the past five generations had been very honorable and
respected rabbis in their own synagogues, and Rabbi
Saunder’s son, Danny, is expected to follow in their
footsteps. Danny too, is a great Talmud scholar and deeply
religious person, but his friendship with a less religious boy
draws him into a more secular world, changing many of his
viewpoints. Reuven Malter is brought up in a modern
orthodox Jewish environment. His father is the rabbi of his
synagogue, and a teacher in high school. Reuven is a very
modern Jew who learns a wide variety of Jewish subjects.
Though he invests much time in Gemara, the amount he
learms is nothing compared to what the Chasidim learn. This
difference in education and religious attitudes causes friction
between the Chasidim and the modern orthodox Jews. The
Chasidim believe that the modern orthodox are corrupt in
their beliefs- they should be studying the Gemara a lot more,
and be much more religious in everything they do, such as
praying to G-d. It is not expected to find a modern orthodox
boy playing with a Chasidic boy. The two boys were playing
a baseball game against each other- the Chasidim, against
the modern orthodox Jews. There are obvious feelings of
hate between the two teams. Towards the end of the game,
Danny hits Reuven in the eye with the ball, sending him to
the hospital. For the moment, they become enemies. Danny
visits Reuven in the hospital, and they become friends.
Danny invites Reuven over to his house to learn some
Gemara with his father, and he accepts the offer. They
become closer and closer, until eventually they are best
friends. Their friendship survives through hard times. When
Rabbi Malter makes a pro-Zionist speech which influences
the entire world, Rabbi Saunders hates him and all
non-Chasidim, because the Chasidim are anti-Zionist. Rabbi
Saunders prohibits his son to ever speak to Reuven. After
two years, the anti-Zionist movement fails, and Rabbi
Saunders allows Danny to speak to Reuven once again.
They once again develop an extremely close friendship,
realizing how valuable it is. As their relationship grows,
Danny is drawn into the secular world, which makes his
father very upset. Yet, their friendship still survives and
flourishes making Danny happier than any time before,
alleviating much of his father’s anger. Chaim Potok’s The
Chosen demonstrates how two people from totally different
backgrounds can befriend each other in such a close
friendship. Whether their families approved of their
friendship or not, they were still able to maintain a long
lasting, and meaningful relationship.