Dealing With Anti-Semitism Dealing with Anti-Semitism Mr. Potok has written scholarly and popular articles and reviews during his publishing career. Mr. Chaim Potok is a novelist, philosopher, historian, theologian, playwright, artist, and editor. All of Mr.
Potok’s novels explore the tensions between Judaism and the modern society (Kaupunginkirasto). Chaim Potok was born in the Bronx, New York, on 17 February 1929, to Polish Jewish immigrants, and was educated in Jewish parochial schools. Mr. Potok undertook a serious religious and secular education, first at the Orthodox Yeshiva University, New York, where he received a Bachelor of Arts in English (summa cum laude) in 1950. Mr.
Potok received his rabbinical ordination in 1954 at Conservative Jewish Theological Seminary, New York, and finally at the University of Pennsylvania, he obtained a Ph.D. in 1965(Buning). Potok transforms Judaic scholarship to drama. Potok explores the tension inside the religious community. He fuses his interests in Jewish education and twentieth century history, a history that had violently touched his family.
This novel serves as Potok’s primary vehicle for the examination of the modern Jewish experience. The genesis and substance of every Potok novel is the Jewish religious, historic, and cultural experience in a non-Judaic world. The philosophic and ethical views are derived from the Judaic sources. Potok’s affirmative vision, veneration of life, positive assessment of human nature, and pervasive striving for meaning in the midst of chaos, for good in the face of evil will be derived from Judaism (Walden 233). It is about growing up in an anti-Semitic environment.
David, a young Jewish boy, is growing up in the Bronx of New York City. David experiences the strains that modern, assimilationist America can put upon a deeply religious, orthodox, sensibility. David grew up on the streets of New York and encountered the anti-Semitism that prevailed there at a certain period of time. David appears to be exploring the nature of evil in human affairs. David learns of scripture or history, what he hears about his parent’s past, what he endures himself in the way of accident or cruelly all become aspects of a single experience-a Jewish experience.
In the fourth year of David Lurie’s life, we enter his life and mind, to see how, through a crucible of childhood pain and love, a man’s spirit was forged. How a gentle, frail little boy became a young man with the terrible courage to pursue his vision of the truth at the risk of all that was most dear to him: family love, friendship and his passionate identity with the centuries of Jewish tradition. David Lurie lives on sunlit apartments on the tree-lined boulevards of the Bronx. On the city sidewalks, Davey (David Lurie) is playing marbles in perfect communion with Tony Savanola until the six-year-old Eddie Kulanski, raised to hate Kikes, initiates Davey into the anguishing knowledge that to be a Jew is to be in peril. David Lurie learns that all beginnings are hard. He must fight for his place against the bullies in his depression-shadowed Bronx neighborhood and his own frail health. As a young man, he must start anew and define his own path of personal belief that diverges sharply with his devout father and everything he has been taught (Amazon).
In the Beginning as the title suggests is a recapitulation of the Book of Genesis from the Creation to the flood of Noah. Many of the dramatic tensions in the novel develop through David’s father Max. Max Lurie is active in leadership in a society to help other emigrants to America. The primary tensions in the novel develop from young David’s situation in an environment that cherishes the old ways of life and Yeshiva study. David become more and more conscious of a need to move out that environment into the larger world of non-orthodox, even non-Jewish intellectual life move out of it, moreover, with out relinquishing it utterly (Halio 373).
In almost all of Potok’s novels, father-son relationships are central to our understanding of the various conflicts that occur. It is the task of the fathers to pass on the Jewish heritage to their obedient sons. Critics have pointed out that the stress put on the authority of the father parallels a similar stress in traditional, patriarchal Judaism on God as King, Judge, and Father; hence the high level of respect, based on mutual love, that the sons display towards their fathers (Buning). Mr. Bader (David’s teacher) who guided David in his studies would welcome David warmly into his apartment.
Mr. Bader and David would sit at his desk and he would remind David to be patient (Potok 279). David learned in his journey to adulthood that he could not swallow the entire world at one time. David would remind himself consistently before a new class at the beginning of a school year or about to start a new book or research paper; that all beginnings are hard. David would touch his raw nerves of faith, the beginning of things (Potok 289).
Mr. Bader taught other important lessons to David. Mr. Bader taught that is it more important to learn the important questions than it is to learn the important answers. There are some questions that do not have good answers.
There are some rich and some poor. How much money a man makes has nothing to do with his wisdom or the good he is able to do for others. David shows us the universal joys and universal guilts of childhood, but the special excitements and the added burdens of a rare spirit and mind destined for rare achievement and the cruel choices that such destine demands of child, boy, youth and man. David reminisced, I can remember hearing my mother murmur those words while I lay in bed with fever. ‘ Children are often sick, that is the way it is with children. All beginnings are hard.
You will be all right soon.” (Potok 280) David bursts into tears one evening because a passage of a Bible commentary had proved too difficult for him to understand. David was about nine years old at the time. David’s father said to him You want to understand everything immediately? Just like that? You have only begun to study this commentary last week. All beginnings are hard. You have to work at the job of studding. Go over it again and again (Potok 279). David learned in his journey that a man can not ignore the given to him by his life (Potok 131).
People exist by the virtue of the help they give to one another. Helping people improves the helper person’s life and keeps the helping person human (Potok 279). Our task is to understand, to memorize and to give back what we had learned. All Beginnings are hard. Beginning is sustained through the painful and sometimes repetitious actions of the story.
David Lurie is now a famous Biblical scholar, now guiding his young students on the dangerous tightrope path of iniquity. David Lurie traveled this path as a youth, where a misstep might mean hurtling into a bitter loss of faith. David is looking back at his own beginning. David Lurie is a studious, thoughtful child, whose state as a child of immigrants makes him more sensitive to Eu …