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The Chosen



P. 136: Reb Saunders

"The world kills us! The world flays our skin from our bodies and throws us to the flames! The world laughs at Torah! And if it does not kill us, it tempts us! It misleads us! It contaminates us! It asks us to join in its ugliness, its impurities, its abominations! The world is Amalek! It is not the world that is commanded to study Torah, but the people of Israel! Listen, listen to this mighty teaching." His voice was suddenly lower, quieter, intimate. "It is written, 'This world is like a vestibule before the world-to-come; prepare thyself in the vestibule, that thou mayest enter into the hall.' The meaning is clear: The vestibule is this world, and the hall is the world-to-come. Listen. In gematriya, the words 'this world' come out one hundred sixty-three, and the words 'the world-to-come' come out one hundred fifty-four. The difference between 'this world' and 'the world-to-come' comes out to nine. Nine is half of eighteen. Eighteen is chai, life. In this world there is only half of chai. We are only half alive in this world! Only half alive!"

P. 217, 218: Reuven's father

"You are no longer a child, Reuven, . . .It is almost possible to see the way your mind is growing. And your heart, too. . . .So listen to what I am going to tell you. . . .Human beings do not live forever, Reuven. We live less than the time it takes to blink an eye, if we measure our lives against eternity. So it may be asked what value is there to a human life. There is so much pain in the world. What does it mean to have to suffer so much if our lives are nothing more than the blink of an eye? . . .I learned a long time ago, Reuven, that a blink of an eye in itself is nothing. But the eye that blinks, that is something. A span of life is nothing. But the man who lives the span, he is something. He can fill that tiny span with meaning, so its quality is immeasurable though its quantity may be insignificant. Do you understand what I am saying? A man must fill his life with meaning, meaning is not automatically given to life. It is hard work to fill one's life with meaning. That I do not think you understand yet. A life filled with meaning is worthy of rest. I want to be worthy of rest when I am no longer here. Do you understand what I am saying?"

P. 257 Reuven's father

"Reuven, the silence between Danny and Reb Saunders. It is continuing?"


His face was sad. "A father can bring up a child any way he wishes, "he said softly. "What a price to pay for a soul."

P. 262

"The tzaddik sits in absolute silence, saying nothing, and all his followers listen attentively,". . . (Danny Saunders) "There's more truth to than you realize."

P. 266 Reuven's father

"I cannot explain it. It do not understand it completely myself. But what I know of it, I dislike. It was practiced in Europe by some few Hasidic families." Then his voice went hard. "There are better ways to teach a child compassion."

P. 278, 279 Reb Saunders

"My father himself never talked to me, except when we studied together. 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. . . . One learns of the pain of others by suffering one's own pain, he would say, by turning inside oneself, by finding one's own soul. And it is important to know of pain, he said. It destroys our self-pride, our arrogance, our indifference toward others. It makes us aware of how frail and tiny we are and of how much we must depend upon the Master of the Universe. . . .

"Reuven, I did not want my Daniel to become like my brother, may he rest in peace. Better I should have had no son at all than to have a brilliant son who had no soul. . . . And I had to make certain his soul would be the soul of a tzaddik no matter what he did with his life."

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Insight found in The Promise

P. 88 Reuven's father

"From the time Danny was about six or seven until the end of his last year in college, Reb Saunders, Danny's father, had deliberately created a barrier of silence between himself and his son, except when they studied Talmud together. He was frightened of Danny's cold brilliance; he wanted to teach his son what it meant to suffer."

Reuven Malther found elsewhere

Reuven Malter reappears in Davita's Harp page 349 and onward.

Additional Quotes

To this day, I don't know if my response was serious or not; I was making it up off the top of my head but still, I think I believed it. There is a certain tragedy, I said, in this form of art. Because it is evanescent, because in two minutes it will be some form of trash, means that right now, it means five billion times more. It's like life--pardon me for misquoting, I don't have the book with me--"Life is like the blink of an eye. What is that worth? Nothing. But the eye that blinks--that is something."--The Chosen, Chaim Potok.

I guess I blinked, on accident. Sometimes, though, I have found accidents to be the most fortuitous events in my life. You meet the one person who reminds you what you are, what you do, how to be happy.

Ah, what a price to pay... The years when he was a child and I loved him and talked with him and held him under my tallis when I prayed... 'Why do you cry, Father?' he asked me once under the tallis. 'Because people are suffering,' I told him. He could not understand. Ah, what it is to be a mind without a soul, what ugliness it is... Those were the years he learned to trust me and love me... And when he was older, the years I drew myself away from him... 'Why have you stopped answering my questions, Father?' he asked me once. 'You are old enough to look into your own soul for the answers,' I told him. He laughed once and said, 'That man is such an ignoramus, Father.' I was angry. 'Look into his soul,' I said. 'Stand inside his soul and see the world through his eyes. You will know the pain he feels because of his ignorance, and you will not laugh.'--Chaim Potok, The Chosen

One learns of the pain of others by suffering one's own pain, by turning inside oneself, by finding one's own soul. And it is important to know of pain. It destroys our self pride, our arrogance, our indifference towards others. --Chaim Potok, The Chosen

"You dream of the accidents. You pray for them. You hope for the accidents. In other words, the unanticipated moves: Because what that means is that the piece that you're creating is alive, it's like a child full of surprises. If it's not suddenly making its own demands and is only lying there inert, your best bet is to walk away from it and start something else."-- Chaim Potok, The Chosen?

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