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The Chosen

The Chosen


by Chaim Potok

The Torah and the Talmud

Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory

The Torah and the Talmud aren't really symbols in The Chosen, but when reading this novel, it's important to have an understanding of these two books.

The word "Torah" comes from the Hebrew root, which means "to teach." Torah actually means all of Jewish history, law, and practice. So, when somebody in The Chosen talks about Torah, it could mean many different things. But, the meaning will be easily revealed by the context. Potok doesn’t try to make things hard for us.

Torah has two basic parts: The written Torah and the oral Torah. The written Torah is made up of The Five Books of Moses, part of the Tanach, or Old Testament. The five books are: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy.

When we start talking about the oral Torah, things get way more confusing. But we’ll try to keep it simple. The Talmud is part of the oral Torah and is basically a huge collection of books that contains written records of lots of different early rabbis arguing, commenting on, and interpreting the written Torah. So, when the characters in the novel have all those oral debates over the Talmud, they are actually contributing to the Talmud. If this topic interests you and you just want to learn more, or, if you are confused and need more detail, check this link out.

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