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The Chosen

The Chosen


by Chaim Potok

The Chosen Book 3, Chapter 13 Summary

  • They’ve only been in college a week, and Danny is frustrated.
  • All those psychology classes he’s been dreaming of aren’t what he’d hoped.
  • The head of psychology, Professor Nathan Appleman, only authorizes "experimental psychology" classes – that is, classes where you do experiments.
  • With rats. And mazes. And math.
  • Psychoanalytic theory, as in Freud, is out the window.
  • Hirsch College is strictly Orthodox, and the program of study is intense. Reuven is very into his studies, and he and Danny don’t get much time to hang out.
  • Yet, they hang out enough for Reuven to know that Danny is getting more and more miserable because the psychology program isn’t even close to meeting his needs, even though his Talmudic studies with Rav Gershenson are awesome.
  • Also, of course, the other Hasidic students make Danny their leader and cling to him almost desperately.
  • Trying to help, one day between semesters, when Reuven and Danny are chilling in Reuven’s room, Reuven encourages Danny to talk to Appleman and to be a little more open-minded about things.
  • Finally, Danny sees that this might be a good idea.
  • Reuven informs him that he’ll be spending Saturdays studying Talmud with his dad – and Danny says the Reb has been missing him, and wants to know when he will be over.
  • Reuven says he doesn’t know, and they make plans to meet on Sunday, and Danny takes off.
  • Reuven’s dad is still sick, but he’s pushing it real hard, teaching extra classes, and getting heavy into the pro-Zionism scene.
  • Very concerned, Reuven encourages him to go to the doctor, and to not push himself so far.
  • Upset, David reminds him that young Jewish men are dying in Palestine over the attempt to establish a Jewish state.
  • Then, he basically tells Reuven that he’s going to die at any moment, so he has to do as much good in the world as he can before he does.
  • The look on Reuven’s face tells David he’s gone a bit too far, and he apologizes and says that, with Reuven and his doctor always on his case, he’ll probably live to a ripe old age – but he agrees to go to the doctor.
  • They have some tea and continue talking about David’s work. The Zionist group he belongs to is planning a huge rally in Madison Square Garden in a few days, and Reuven is afraid of how the Reb will react.
  • Reuven goes to sleep and has awful dreams.
  • Near the start of their second semester in college, in 1947, Danny talks with Professor Appleman.
  • It goes really well, and Danny comes to understand that, while Freud was totally brilliant, his work was all based on cases of people with big psychological problems, so his work doesn’t necessarily apply to people without big psychological problems.
  • Danny tells Reuven that Appleman’s problem isn’t so much with Freud, but with his followers, who won’t put their interpretations up for testing.
  • So, Danny is much happier, and Reuven helps him to learn the math he needs to study experimental psychology.
  • That February, Reuven hardly sees his dad. David is working overtime for the cause of Zionism.
  • Hirsch College is in a total uproar about Zionism, too, with students and faculty members representing all the different positions on the matter: from Reb Saunders’s extreme anti-Zionist stance, to David Malter’s extreme pro-Zionist stance, and everything in between.
  • There are fights, disturbances, and heated debates between the students.
  • Danny admits to Reuven that he believes in Zionism, even though he’s joined an on-campus anti-Zionist group.
  • You’ve read enough to understand why he isn't following his political dreams on this issue.
  • Danny is bitter over this, and feels "trapped by his beard and earlocks."
  • David gets deeper and deeper into his work, and is heartened when the Madison Square Garden pro-Zion rally is hugely successful.
  • Of course, the rally is in all the papers, and Reuven shares his father’s excitement and enthusiasm.
  • But, trouble is a-brewing.
  • Danny doesn’t show up to meet Reuven like they planned the next afternoon, nor the morning after that.
  • At school, Reuven sees Danny walk by his classroom, looking pale and stressed-out.
  • Reuven gets up and follows him in to the bathroom.
  • They pee together and Danny tells Reuven they are not allowed to be friends anymore, nor even talk or ever meet.
  • If they do, Danny can forget about going to college.
  • And it’s all on account of David’s pro-Zionist speech at the rally.
  • The Reb is beyond furious.
  • And, if they are thinking of any secret rendezvous, they can just forget it.
  • Danny is watched constantly – by the Hasidic students at the college and all of the Reb’s followers.
  • One of the students walks in right on cue, casting glances at the two friends, as if to prove Danny’s point.
  • At which moment, Danny splits.
  • Reuven can’t wrap his mind around it.
  • When he tells David, David explains that, until the issue of a Jewish homeland is resolved, the stakes are all much higher.
  • This is the immediate backlash of the Holocaust. In a way, the Reb is answering to his followers for the death of six million Jews.
  • His response is to take all his previously held positions to the extreme.
  • And, right now, Zionism is the hottest issue there is among American Jewry.
  • He also reminds Reuven that he and Danny have an intimate and private relationship.
  • He’s deeply sorry that they are going through this now.
  • Reuven is completely furious.
  • He calls the Reb "a fanatic."
  • David explains that the Reb’s brand of passion has kept the Jews alive for two thousand years of persecution, and that he, David, is just as fanatical about fighting for the creation of a Jewish homeland.
  • Reuven can’t see past his anger and goes to bed crying and dreaming of Danny.

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