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Free Study Guide-The Chosen by Chaim Potok-Free Online Booknotes
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CHAPTER SUMMARY AND NOTES

CHAPTER 7

Summary

Danny takes Reuven to meet his father for the first time. They head towards Danny's house, which is located above the synagogue. On the way, Reuven reveals a little about himself. He tells that his mother died soon after his birth and that he has no siblings. As the two boys talk, they discover that they both had been born in the same year and only two days apart.

Danny talks about his father, who is anxious to meet and approve of Reuven. Danny also tells how he seldom talks to his father unless they are discussing the Talmud. He then explains how his father spent his early years in Russia. He inherited the position of rabbinic leadership at the age of twenty-one, was shot by a band of marauding Cossacks, and was nursed back to health by a peasant family. After his recovery, Danny's father announced to his people that they should move from Russia. Later he led them to New York City. Reuven cannot believe that people have such faith in their rabbi.

As Reuven and Danny approach the synagogue, a wall of approximately thirty men stand guard before them and look at Reuven in a hostile way. As Danny approaches and stares at them, they allow both boys to enter. In the synagogue, there is much activity. Men constantly pass in and out of the rooms. Some men are studying the Talmud, and others talk among themselves. The boys wait for Danny's father. When he enters, Danny's younger brother is following him. Danny introduces Reuven to his father. He looks at him intently and then asks him about his eye.


Everyone sits down for a meal. After Reb Saunders blesses the food, everyone eats in silence. After dinner, everyone joins in singing. Then the rabbi begins to speak about their religion and the Talmud. He quotes from the Torah and explains some of his concepts through mathematical equations. At the end of his sermon, Reb Saunders looks at Danny and asks him if he has anything to say. Danny is bold enough to point out an error that his father had made in his sermon. Reuven realizes that Danny's father was quizzing his son in front of all the people. The intelligent Danny, however, is able to answer all the questions. The rabbi asks all the people if there were any other mistakes in his sermon. Danny is tense and apprehensive, for he did not notice any other errors. Reb Saunders then loudly admits that since his son is not a mathematician, he was unable to detect the flaw in the equations that he had used in his sermon. The rabbi then asks Reuven if he has noticed an error in the math. At first Reuven is afraid to reply; then, however, he gathers enough courage to point out the rabbi's mathematical miscalculation. Reb Saunders seems pleased with Reuven. It is like he has passed some kind of a test. After everyone leaves, the rabbi speaks to Reuven and voices his happiness in his son having Reuven as a friend. He does, however, voice his disapproval of Reuven's father's philosophies and writings.

When Danny and Reuven walk back towards Reuven's house, Danny tries to make Reuven understand his father's personality. Reuven, however, is unable to accept the fact that the rabbi tried to embarrass both Danny and himself through the quiz session. The boys then talk about college. Both of them want to attend the same school. Danny tells how he wants to earn a B.A. in Psychology and study the Talmud under Gershenson, a great scholar.

At home, Reuven tells his father about everything that has happened during the day and how he felt about it. Reuven's father explains that the public questioning was an old tradition and a way for a father to test his son's knowledge. Since Danny is expected to be the next rabbi, following in his father's footsteps, Reb Saunders wants to make certain that the people are aware of their future rabbi's intelligence and knowledge.

Notes

In this lengthy chapter, a few new things are learned about Danny and Reuven. The boys are the same age, being born only two days apart. It is also revealed that Reuven's mother died shortly after he was born and that he has no siblings. The fact that he is the only child of his widowed father partially accounts for the extremely close relationship that the two of them enjoy. It is also learned that Danny and his family make their home above the synagogue where his father serves as rabbi.

The chapter mainly serves to develop the history and character of Reb Saunders and his relationship with his son, Danny. The boy admits that he respects his father, but seldom talks to him except to have religious discussions. Danny also explains that his father became a rabbi at the age of twenty-one, was shot by Cossacks, decided to leave Russia, and led his followers to New York City. It is obvious during the course of the chapter that Reb Saunders wants and expects his son to follow in his footsteps and become the next rabbi for the people. To prove that Danny will be an intelligent and able leader, he publicly questions the boy.

The rabbi is also very concerned about Danny's relationship with Reuven. Danny tells his friend, "My father doesn't like us to mix with outsiders," meaning non-Hasidic Jews. Since the rabbi knows Reuven's father and disapproves of his liberal philosophies and writings, he wants to make certain that he approves of Reuven. When he is able to answer a question about the mathematical error in his sermon that Danny did not notice, Reb Saunders takes an immediate liking to Reuven. In spite of the approval, Reuven thinks the rabbi is a tyrant for questioning Danny publicly.

When Reuven returns home, he tells his own father about everything that has transpired at the synagogue and how he feels about it. It is obvious that the two of them have a comfortable and close relationship, sharing all their thoughts, feelings, and experiences; it is a total contrast to the relationship between Danny and his father. When Reuven voices his disapproval of the rabbi's treatment of Danny, Mr. Malter surprisingly defends Reb Saunders, stating that it is Jewish tradition for a father to publicly question a son to prove his ability.

Danny's brother is introduced in this chapter. Although he is currently too young to be of great significance at the moment, he will gain importance later in the novel. Danny mentions his brother's ill health, but he does not elaborate on it.

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