The Chosen

Anonymous

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.