Chapter 7 Notes from The Chosen

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The Chosen Chapter 7

Reuven and his father wake up early on Saturday morning to walk to Synagogue after their breakfast from Manya. Each Hasidic sect prays in its own house of worship, and after services were over, Mr. Malter, walks to see a colleague. Reuven lies down and looks up at the blue sky thinking of Danny and Billy's blue eyes.

After a three-hour nap, Reuven awakens to see Danny standing above him ready to leave. They tease one another in an amiable fashion and walk to Reb Saunders' shul so that he can meet Reuven. Danny says that his father must meet and approve of all of Danny's friends - especially those out of the fold.

Topic Tracking: Friendship 5

Reuven comments that his father seems like a tyrant and he would not be able to carry on such a relationship with his father if they never spoke. The only time Danny's father speaks to him is during Talmudic study. Danny does not refute the tyrannical comment; however, he tells Reuven of his father's miraculous and heroic life story of survival during Russia. His first family was shot and killed, while he was saved by a Russian family. He was the second son who only inherited the position because his older brother disappeared. He saved his entire Hasidic community and brought them over to the United States after World War I and changed his name upon arrival to Ellis Island. Danny was born two days before the stock market crashed.

Reuven cannot understand how an entire community can follow another man so blindly. He believes that it sounds like Catholicism. The two boys continue to discuss Hasidism until they arrive at shul - synagogue. Reuven immediately feels out of place and regretful for having agreed to come into this different world. He sees the Hasidic Jews around him: "We were almost halfway through the crowd now, walking slowly together, Danny's fingers on the part of my arm just over the elbow. I felt myself naked and fragile, an intruder, and my eyes, searching for anything but the bearded faces to look at, settled, finally, upon the sidewalk at my feet" Chapter 7, p. 124.

As Danny and Reuven enter the synagogue, it is as if the red sea parts for them. People move away in order to allow Danny, the son of the tzaddik and future tzaddik, to walk through. Reuven sees one of the ruthless members on Danny's baseball team stare at him with enmity and curiosity, and Reuven realizes that both boys will have a tough time explaining their friendship with one another to their respective friends. Everyone suddenly becomes quiet and respectful as Reb Saunders enters the small room. "The silence that followed had a strange quality to it: expectation, eagerness, love, awe" Chapter 7, p. 128. As he enters, the congregants try to touch him and honor him. He comes directly to Danny, who introduces him to Reuven in front of the crowd. With curt and blunt honestly, he asks is he is the son of David Malter, if his eye is healed, how he knows so much about mathematics, and so forth. The questioning is partly in Yiddish on his part and answered in English from Reuven. " ''Later we will talk more. I want to know my son's friend. Especially the son of David Malter'" Chapter 7, p.130.

After the service, Danny motions for Reuven to sit next to him for the large meal. He eats, although he is not hungry, and joins in the joyous singing and swaying with the others afterwards. Although he is silent, Reb Saunders seems to shed a slight smile, and then speaks after a long silence. He begins a powerful sermon on the importance of studying Torah in the world. As his words echo throughout the room, Danny looks emotionless and lets his eyes sink down, so as to not watch his holy father. He continues to talk of the evils of the world and the importance of study in order to make sense of and live in the world. Reuven begins to enjoy this study, despite his conspicuous difference. The sermon continues into an even larger display of the worship of Torah and the teaching of the rabbis. However, Reuven slowly thinks to himself that there are other important parts to the world, such as Einstein, Roosevelt, the soldiers. While Reuven silently ponders these ideas, Reb Saunders calls upon his son to discover any mistakes made during the sermon. It is customary to give a public quiz on Talmud and Danny's father was giving him a large test on the facts for a substantial period of time. Reb Saunders becomes angry with Danny when he cannot find any more errors in his father's sermon and turns to Reuven, the mathematician. Surprised and terrified, Reuven says he enjoyed everything and then notes that one of the numbers he gave was wrong. Reb Saunders gloriously rewards him with congratulatory words, and both he and Danny realize that Reuven has also just passed a small test.

"I just couldn't get it through my head that Danny had to go through something like that every week, and that I myself had gone through it tonight...I had clearly passed the test. What a ridiculous way to gain admiration and friendship!" Chapter 7, p. 143

After the services and meal, Reb Saunders tells Reuven how he is glad that he is Danny's friend and that Danny needs such a friend. He says that a friend is not an easy thing to be and then leaves. Reuven realizes that Danny and his father exchanged no words all day, save the Talmudic discussion. As Reuven leaves, he divulges his horror at such a game. The people seem to love the game and the excitement, and are happy that it continues on a weekly basis. Danny tells Reuven that his little brother, Levi, is sick with a blood disease. Both boys realize that they will be attending the same college, Raphael Hirsch Seminary and College, the only Yeshiva and secular school admired by the Orthodox community, and Danny will be majoring in Psychology. Reuven realizes how late it has become and races home to his worried father. They discuss the day's events and the public testing. Mr. Malter defends the method by saying that it is the way the world works. "If a person has a contribution to make, he must make it in public. If learning is not made in public, it is a waste. But the business about the mistakes I never heard before" Chapter 7, p. 149.

Topic Tracking: Friendship 6
Topic Tracking: Intelligentsia 5

Mr. Malter continues to praise Danny's mind and mourn that such a valuable mind might be lost to society. Reuven promises to call if he stays out so late in the future, and the two men go to bed.

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