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The Chosen | Book 2, Chapter 10 | Summary

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Summary

Danny Saunders and Reuven Malter spend every day in July together. Danny spends the mornings studying the Talmud. Reuven spends Mondays, Wednesdays, and Friday mornings playing ball. On Sundays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays Reuven studies the Talmud with his father. They are studying the tractate of Sanhedrin very slowly, sometimes 10 lines at a time. Reb has upped Danny's Talmud quota to three blatt, or six pages, a day. In the afternoons, the boys meet in the library. Sometimes David Malter joins them to do research for an article.

Reuven invites Danny over for dinner; Danny declines. Later, David tells Reuven that Danny can't eat with them.

Danny is growing increasingly frustrated with the study of German. He can't parse the nuances for words with similar meanings. One Shabbat, while arguing the Talmud with his father and Reuven, Danny has an epiphany. He tells Reuven about it later. He will study Freud as if it were the Talmud, using multiple sources and working line by line.

When Reuven gets home, he calls Danny right away, but Danny isn't home. He has gone to Lakewood with his father to visit a family friend. When they speak later, Danny tells Reuven how miserable the trip was; he spent hours on a bus with his father without exchanging a single word except for a short discussion of the Talmud. Danny wistfully calls Reuven "lucky."

Reuven and Danny meet in the library the next day. Danny is blinking his eyes a lot. Danny reports that he read the books Reuven gave him. Reb Saunders is unhappy about having the books in the house until Danny musters the courage to tell him they came from Reuven. Danny tells Reuven that he has read a lot of Freud in the month, and wants to talk to him about a paper on sexuality in particular. Reuven says they'll discuss it on Shabbat, but they don't have a chance. School starts again, and Danny and Reuven never talk about the paper.

Analysis

Growing frustrated with his reading of Freud, Danny Saunders is ill-tempered and cranky. He is probably frustrated for the first time in his life. In his old life, old men came to him for advice and crowds parted for him. He is unused to failure. However, in his new life, the one in which he reads secular books and discusses Freud, Danny is a child. He is just learning, very much like his younger self, and learning can be frustrating.

Danny using Talmudic study methods to study Freud connects his secular god—Freud—to his religion. It also adds a twist to the study of German and Freud; Danny is using the Talmudic method to learn a language that is the instrument of a people trying to destroy the Talmud.

Danny's refusal to eat at the Malters' further concretizes his isolation, even from Orthodox Jews. The Hasidim in their evolution tweaked the kashrut laws of the Mitnagdim in order to keep the sects separate. Danny can only eat in his own home or the homes of his father's followers. This is one way Reb Saunders keeps a hold on his people; they are discouraged from mixing with anyone outside the sect.

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