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The Chosen

The Chosen


by Chaim Potok

The Chosen Chapter 12 Summary

  • The Saunders treat Reuven like family.
  • Danny’s (still nameless) mother feeds him and his (still nameless) sister teases him.
  • We finally learn Danny’s brother’s name – it’s Levi — and Levi picks his nose and walks around like a ghost.
  • The Reb is in bad shape – crying all the time, and with dark circles under his eyes. He cannot come to terms with the horrors of the Holocaust.
  • Reuven stays for a month and he and Danny catch up and do their normal things. You know, the library, the Talmud study, reading Freud.
  • They have plenty of time to talk about Freud, and Danny reveals what troubles him so about good old Sigmund. Danny seems to be addicted to Freud, because the psychoanalyst seems to be able to peer into the heart of man.
  • But, according to Danny, what Freud sees in the heart of man is nasty and is anything but religious.
  • Over the month, Danny patiently provides Reuven with a thorough briefing on Freud.
  • And Reuven starts thinking that it might not be possible for the Talmud and Freud to live peacefully inside Danny’s head.
  • Unfortunately, because David is sick, Reuven can’t talk with him about it – he doesn’t want to distress him any more than he is already.
  • The Holocaust news has him horrified beyond belief.
  • At first, he only talks a little about the possibility of Palestine as a Jewish homeland, and, for the most part, focuses on the "American Jewry and the need for teachers and rabbis."
  • He tells Danny and Reuven what he’s learned – that the leaders of the world, in Britain and the U.S. knew what was happening to the Jews, but still didn’t open their gates to the fleeing Jews, nor step in soon enough to try to stop the genocide.
  • The more worked up he gets, the more convinced he becomes that a Jewish homeland in Palestine is a must.
  • Reuven makes the mistake of repeating his father’s sentiments about the Jewish homeland to Reb Saunders, without using David’s name.
  • The Reb is beyond furious – he says there can be no Jewish homeland until the Messiah comes.
  • This scares the heck out of Reuven, and he apologizes.
  • Later, Danny tells him to please, please, please never bring that up again.
  • Reuven feels the Reb Saunders’s reaction was extreme, unreasonable, and unjustified.
  • From the Reb’s perspective, Danny explains, this is extremely serious business, and a "secular Jewish state" is against everything he believes in.
  • It’s a good thing Reuven didn’t cite his dad as the source for his comments or, as Danny lets him know, the Reb would have tossed him out on his ear.
  • Reuven just doesn’t get it, though.
  • "Six million Jews have died," Danny explains rather gently.
  • And Rabbi Saunders is suffering for all of them, trying to feel their every pain.
  • Reuven can’t understand, and is walking on eggshells henceforth.
  • Now, for something slightly more pleasant.
  • Near the end of July, in the library, Danny starts talking about his nose-picking brother, Levi Saunders.
  • He’s a sickly chap, but smart, Danny tells Reuven.
  • Reuven’s all, and your sister’s gorgeous.
  • Danny ignores this and gets to the point.
  • The little nose-picker can take Danny’s place – Levi is Danny’s way out of the family line.
  • Picture Reuven shuddering, imagining the Reb’s reaction.
  • Danny stresses that he will need Reuven to be nearby and within 911-dialing range the day he breaks the news to the Reb.
  • Reuven says again, man, your sister’s hot.
  • Pa-lease, Danny says, step off my sister. I want to talk about my dad.
  • Danny’s deeply respects his father, admires him, and can even live without non-Talmudic conversations.
  • He just wants out of the trap. He asks Reuven if he knows how it feels to be stuck like this, with no way out.
  • Reuven admits that he does not.
  • Danny lets him know that he will do just about anything to break free.
  • Then, he softens, reminding Reuven he’ll need him the day he tells his dad.
  • After a silence, Danny quietly tells Reuven that his father chose his sister’s husband when she was two, and that she will marry the son of one of the Reb’s followers when she turns eighteen.
  • Reuven says they never talked about his sister again.
  • A week after this, America destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki with atomic bombs, and the war with Japan came to an end.
  • In the fall, Danny and Reuven both go to college – Reuven is taller and shaves. Danny is pretty much the same, except now he wears glasses, too.

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