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

CHAPTER 12

Summary

Reuven is warmly welcomed and made to feel a part of the Saunders' family. He notices Danny's sister for the first time and finds her attractive and vivacious. She is a strong contrast to Levi, Danny's younger brother, who looks sickly. Rabbi Saunders is as taciturn and withdrawn as ever. As expected, Reuven never sees Danny and his father talk to one another except to argue over the Talmud.

Danny tells Reuven that he has learned a great deal about Freud and his theories, but he is confused by some of them. He is still, however, interested in psychology. He then talks about his brother and explores the idea of him becoming the next tzaddik or rabbi, for Danny has decided he cannot become one. He soon plans to tell his father his decision.


One morning at breakfast, Reb Saunders tells the story of an old pious Hasid who had set out on a journey to Palestine to spend his last few years in the Holy Land. Reuven, knowing his father would like to return to the Holy Land himself, comments that there are many Jews who want to make Palestine their homeland. Reb Saunders has an instantaneous and terrifying response to Reuven's comment. Wild with rage, he shouts out his contempt to these "apikorism," who will not wait for the Messiah to lead them to the Promised Land. He then leaves the dinner table. Later, Danny implores Reuven never to mention anything like that again. Although Reuven promises not to talk about it again, he is convinced that the rabbi is too orthodox and narrow-minded. Reuven still believes and accepts his father's ideas of Zionism and a secular Jewish state.

One afternoon, Reuven expresses an interest to Danny in his sister. Danny explains that she has been promised to the son of one of the rabbi's Hasidic followers, according to old custom.

After a week, Reuven returns to be with his father. Then Hiroshima and Nagasaki are bombed, and the war ends. When September arrives, both Danny and Reuven enter Hirsch College.

Notes

Reuven is made to feel very welcome at Danny's house, even though he is unable to comprehend and accept the taciturnity of Reb Saunders towards his own son. Being used to talking about everything with his own father, the strange silence between the rabbi and Danny seems very uncomfortable to Reuven. Reuven is also made to feel uncomfortable when the rabbi screams at him for mentioning the Zionist ideology of forming a Jewish homeland in the Holy Land. Reb Saunders feel like all Jews should wait for a Messiah to come and lead them to the Promised Land.

Danny admits to Reuven that he has decided he will not become a rabbi, as custom dictates. He plans to tell his father the news in the near future. Reuven is not terribly shocked. He has always wondered how it was possible for the ideas of the Talmud and the thinking of Freud to live comfortably side by side within one person.

Reuven's interest in Danny's sister is immediately suppressed by Danny. Her marriage to another Hasid has already been fixed in the old traditional Hasidic custom.

At the end of the chapter, Reuven returns to his father, the war comes to an end with Hiroshima and Nagasaki being bombed, and Danny and Reuven enter Hirsch College.

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