Though it’s been years since I read Chaim Potok’s The Chosen, the theme I remember it most for is freedom, specifically freedom of the mind. Reuven’s father already has been practicing intellectual freedom and his Modern Orthodox stance on Judaism looks frighteningly like abandonment of the faith to some people. Danny is a person trapped by circumstances in a world with no intellectual freedom and he steals it whenever he can. But Potok doesn’t paint the world in two colors only. Reuben desires to be a rabbi though he could be a mathematician. Faith is not the enemy in Potok’s universe. To me, from my memory of reading it long ago, the book positions faith and freedom in a movable balance.
Well, it’s the Jewish Book of the Month (J-BOM) selection for February 2017 here on Messianic Jewish Musings. And I’ve heard from twenty or so people who say they will be reading it with me. It’s not too late to join the revolution.
Ways to Participate in J-BOM
Try and read the first four chapters between now and February 10. They constitute “Book One” according to Potok’s division. The longer “Book Two” will take us at least two weeks to read and comment on.
Post a short thought about your reading in the comments. You can read Chapter 1 and comment or any portion of chapters 1-4. Just don’t give any spoilers beyond chapter 4 in this post, please.
What can you say in your comments? Talk about the impression the story is making on you. Ask a question about the Jewish or historical elements that lie behind the story. Say something about plot, themes, motifs, characters. Feel free to just give a short review of the story and why you’re going to want to convince your friends to read the book.