The Promise


Quotes

 

P. 183: Reuven's father

"He shook his head. "It is strange how ideas can float about and be ignored until they are put into a book. A book can be a weapon, Reuven. But I did not intend my book to be a weapon. I simply intended it to be--a book." He was silent a moment. Then he shook his head again. "I expected it. But what could I do? I could not stop writing. I cannot stop writing because some people do not like what I say.""

P. 184-185: Reuven and his father

""I'm not going to be proud of a smicha I have to lie for."

"No," he said soberly. "I do not expect that you will lie in order to receive smicha. You will have to make a choice."

"What choice" There is no choice. I realized tonight while you were out that I have no choice at all. He's not asking me to make a choice. He's telling me to take a stand. I'm either with him or against him. All or nothing. I'm disgusted with the whole business. I don't want smicha if the price I have to pay for it is to stop thinking. He can keep his smicha.""

P. 231: Reuven about Danny

". . .and it occurred to me as I listened to him that Michael was his first attempt at self-vindication, the first in a long series of efforts he would be making to prove to himself that the pain he had caused his father at refusing to take on the tzaddikate, and the years the tzaddikate would ultimately take form his brother's frail life, was all worthwhile. He was frightened of making a mistake, frightened of failure--as much because of what it might mean to him as what it might do to Michael. I told him to calm down and stop being hysterical; I had had enough hysteria for one day from Rav Kalman's article. . ."

P. 234: Reuven and his father

""They can't fire you for the way you teach. You've got tenure in that school."

"Tenure," he said bitterly. "Reuven, do you know what it is to teach in a school where people despise you? What does it mean to have tenure when the air you breathe is poisoned?

What are you going to do?"

He coughed and wiped his lips. "The book will be published," he said grimly. "No one will ever tell me what I may publish. Then we will see what they do?"

"But they can't fire you."

"No. But there are enough ways to make life unpleasant for a teacher so that he will leave without being fired.""

P. 235: Reuven's father

"That is the way the world is, Reuven. Each generation thinks it fights new battles. But the battles are the same. Only the people are different."

P. 250: Danny and Reuven

""Yes," Danny said, suddenly serious. "For you. But it's my world, best friend. And I haven't seen anything outside that's better."

"Nothing I can't use and still stay inside. . .

I did not think I could ever be comfortable with Abraham Gordon's answers. I found myself envious of Danny's solid-rootedness in his world--and discovered at that moment to my utter astonishment how angry I was at my father for his book and his method of study and the tiny, twilight in-between life he had carved out for us."

P. 263: Danny and Reuven

""To some extent. It would begin to teach you how to become aware of yourself. That's what the soul is, I think. Self-awareness."

"The soul," I said.

"The crust is self-delusion. The soul is self-awareness."

"And if you're regelling and are full of rage and don't have that self-awareness--what then?""

P. 290-291: Abraham Gordon

""He doesn't understand my concept of God," Abraham Gordon murmured. I had told him earlier what Rav Kalman had said. "I don't understand his. A God who worries about every human being, every creature. I find it an incomprehensible notion in the face of what we know about the world and about evil. A primitive concept. What do I do with the truth, Reuven? Evolutionary theory and astronomy and physics and biblical criticism and archeology and anthropology--they present us with truths. What do I do with the truth? I cannot ignore the truth. So I try to make it serve me. But don't leave unless you are absolutely certain. If everybody who had brains and doubts left Orthodoxy, we would be in a great deal of trouble. Still," he added, "I would like you as a student.""

P. 333-334: Reuven

". . .three elderly Hasidim passed by talking in awed tones about their rebbe. I did not understand them and they did not understand me, and our quarrels would continue. But I was part of the chain of the tradition now, as much a guardian of the sacred Promise as Rav Kalman and the Hasidim were, and it would be a different kind of fight from now on. I had won the right to make my own beginning."

P. 351: Reuven and Danny

""You knew all along," I said. "You knew what it was about all the time."

"I guessed."

"You didn't guess. You knew."

"Yes," he said quietly. "I went through some of that myself a while ago."

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Reuven Mather appears elsewhere

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

Additional Quotes

Jonathan Baker
baker@sacco.nyu.edu

Even the mission of Mitzvah Tanks was not explicitly to draw people into Lubavitch, but rather into Torah Judaism. If someone was stopped on the street and did a mitzvah, and took and glanced at a flyer, perhaps a spark would be struck, that later on they might think about finding out about Torah Judaism, in whatever form.

As Potok's Professor Appleman said to Danny Saunders, "my problem is not with Freud, but with the Freudians". My problem is not so much with the late Lubavitcher Rebbe, ztvkll"h, as with those who claim to follow him.

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