All semester, Danny and Reuven see each other everywhere, but never speak.
Reuven feels hideous about the situation, and it starts showing in his schoolwork.
He wonders if Danny feels the same awful way.
Reuven hates the silence between them, and still can’t believe Danny and his father actually never talk.
He thinks that silence is like cancer and death, and he comes to hate the Reb with a passion for imposing it.
And his dad is no help – he disagrees with the Reb, but will not listen to any trash-talk about him.
The debate over the Jewish homeland rages all around him.
That, coupled with the Danny problem, has Reuven so distraught that he mucks up all his mid-term exams.
David is totally absorbed in the battle, and Reuven rarely sees him.
His mood gets darker and darker.
In September, when Reuven and Danny cross paths and Danny doesn’t so much as nod, Reuven is so mad that he vows to forget Danny and Reb Saunders, and get on with his life.
But this isn't so easy, considering they are in the same super-intense Talmud class with Rav Gershenson.
And, of course, Danny is pretty unforgettable.
Reuven really loves Rav Gershenson’s classes, but can’t understand why he’s only been called on twice by mid-October.
He thinks that Rav might be doing this because of David Malter’s stance on Zionism.
And, then, on November 29, 1947, the Zionist state becomes a reality.
The United Nations (UN) votes and Palestine is partitioned, split into two states – one Arab and one Jewish.
Reuven and his father weep with joy and jubilation.
Then, Reuven begins to see the effects of the UN’s decision.
See, the Arabs living on the land that is now to be a Jewish state aren’t happy about it, and political tensions are extreme.
There is much violence and bloodshed on both sides.
Reuven bucks up and studies to avoid getting dragged down by the ever-increasing awfulness of the situation.
He passes all his classes with As.
Then, David Malter has another heart attack and it’s touch-and-go for him for a while.
Eventually, though, he begins to get better.
When Reuven passes Danny in the hall one day at school, Danny shows how sorry he is about David by brushing against Reuven and touching his hand.
Reuven thinks it’s "bitter and ironic" that David Malter has to almost die before Danny makes contact with him.
Reuven lives all alone during this dark period.
He gets deep into his Talmud studies to "wait out the silence" and the loneliness.
His class is studying a particularly difficult section of Talmud, and Reuven becomes more and more convinced that Rab Gershenson will finally call on him about the passage.
So, he bones up and tries to imagine every possible angle his teacher might present for argument.
Sure enough, he is called upon and performs very well.
Rab Gershenson keeps calling on him for several days, and he does better and better.
After about five days of this, they reach the end of the passage, and Rab Gershenson asks to speak to Reuven privately.
He learns that Reuven has studied Talmud extensively with his father, and presses him to explain something that Reuven had resisted getting in to during class.
Apparently, Reuven’s method in this case is highly controversial because his teacher tells him that, while he himself approves of Reuven’s method, the school would not, and so Reuven should continue to refrain from using that method in class.
Reuven understands and agrees, and we really don’t hear how he feels about this.