Secularism vs. Religion in The Chosen

Examines the levels of Jewish orthodoxy in Chaim Potok’s novel, The Chosen.

The paper compares the modern Orthodox world of Reuven Malter to the Hasidic world of Danny Saunders in The Chosen by Chaim Potok. The paper discusses how as a Hasidic Jew, Saunders has fundamental differences with the more liberal Jewish Malter, and these characters highlight the main theme in the novel that is the conflict between the secular and the religious. The paper points out, however, that the liberal Jew, Malter, serves as a mentor to the Orthodox Saunders and keeps him from rebelling against his religious background.
The modern Orthodox world of Reuven Malter is fundamentally at odds with the Hasidic world of Danny Saunders. Saunders was raised in an Orthodox household and, therefore, abides by extremely conservative religious views. Malter, meanwhile, who is the novel’s narrator, studied theology and was ordained as a conservative rabbi. Nonetheless, his views are much more liberal than Saunders’.
It is revealing that, at one point in the story,
Saunders asks Malter why he never visits on the Shabbat. It is clear that, on this point, the two differ on their world-views. While this reality has very much to do with Zionism, neither Saunders or Malter mention it. All of this, of course, revolves around the Talmud and the Torah, two religious texts that are studied by Malter and Saunders throughout the novel.”