The Promise by Chaim Potok
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The second book of 2012 done! But something seems to be wrong with Blogger's time stamp script, as I scheduled my first book review of the year to be published in a few days (I dislike it when people write more than one blog in a day...it screws up the organization of their story in my mind). We'll see what happens with this one.
Chaim Potok is a tremendous writer. The one criticism I have is that I wish there were a glossary of his Jewish words in his book. Usually, he defines the word the first time it is used, but there are a lot of them that are unfamiliar enough to me that I don't remember them.
I had no idea that becoming a rabbi was such an ordeal, but I guess I hadn't really thought about it too much. It is interesting to watch Reuven and Danny grow and mature, and to watch their friendship grow, too.
There's always a lot of thinking in Potok's books, but in the sort of way that thoughts feel like action. I recommend this book.
Somehow, I always manage to forget something I want to say about a book. I really valued this passage:
"The Orthodoxy in which Abraham Gordon had been raised by his parents in Chicago became a riotous mockery to him about one year before he entered the university. He never really rebelled against his religion. He simply stopped taking it seriously. Rebellion, said Abraham Gordon, is a conscious act of the will directed toward the remolding of ideas or institutions whether by force of by persuasion. Turning one's back upon ideas or institutions is therefore not an act of rebellion but an act of disengagement. The old is considered dead.
"All through college he considered the old dead And yet, strangely enough, he found it impossible to abandon the rituals of the tradition. The entire theological structure upon which those rituals were based had disintegrated into a joke: creation in six days, the relevation, miracles, a personal God--all of it. But the rituals--particularly prayer, kashruth, the Shabbat, and the festivals--had intrinsic value for him; and so he continued to observe the rituals while no longer believing in the theology, all the time gambling that he would one day develop a new theology for the old rituals."
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