The Chosen Quotes

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The Chosen The Chosen by Chaim Potok
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The Chosen Quotes Showing 1-30 of 32
“I've begun to realize that you can listen to silence and learn from it. It has a quality and a dimension all its own.”
Chaim Potok, The Chosen
“Human beings do not live forever, Reuven. We live less than the time it takes to blink an eye, if we measure our lives against eternity. So it may be asked what value is there to a human life. There is so much pain in the world. What does it mean to have to suffer so much if our lives are nothing more than the blink of an eye?

I learned a long time ago, Reuven, that a blink of an eye in itself is nothing. But the eye that blinks, that is something. A span of life is nothing. But the man who lives that span, he is something. He can fill that tiny span with meaning, so its quality is immeasurable though its quantity may be insignificant. Do you understand what I am saying? A man must fill his life with meaning, meaning is not automatically given to life.

It is hard work to fill one's life with meaning. That I do not think you understand yet. A life filled with meaning is worthy of rest. I want to be worthy of rest when I am no longer here.”
Chaim Potok, The Chosen
“As you grow older you will discover that the most important things that will happen to you will often come as a result of silly things, as you call them --"ordinary things" is a better expression. That is the way the world is.”
Chaim Potok, The Chosen
“No one knows he is fortunate until he becomes unfortunate, that's the way the world is.”
Chaim Potok, The Chosen
“You can listen to silence, Reuven. I've begun to realize that you can listen to silence and learn from it. It has a quality and a dimension all its own. It talks to me sometimes. I feel myself alive in it. It talks. And I can hear it.
...
You have to want to listen to it, and then you can hear it. It has a strange, beautiful texture. It doesn't always talk. Sometimes - sometimes it cries, and you can hear the pain of the world in it. It hurts to listen to it then. But you have to.”
Chaim Potok, The Chosen
“A man is born into this world with only a tiny spark of goodness in him. The spark is God, it is the soul; the rest is ugliness and evil, a shell. The spark must be guarded like a treasure, it must be nurtured, it must be fanned into flame. It must learn to seek out other sparks, it must dominate the shell. Anything can be a shell, Reuven. Anything. Indifference, laziness, brutality, and genius. Yes, even a great mind can be a shell and choke the spark.”
Chaim Potok, The Chosen
“I learned a long time ago, Reuven, that a blink of an eye in itself is nothing. But the eye that blinks, that is something. A span of life is nothing. But the man who lives that span, he is something. He can fill that tiny span with meaning, so its quality is immeasurable though its quantity may be insignificant. Do you understand what I am saying? A man must fill his life with meaning, meaning is not automatically given to life.”
Chaim Potok, The Chosen
“Reuven listen to me. The Talmud says that a person should do two things for himself. One is to acquire a teacher. Do you remember the other."
"Choose a friend," I said.
"Yes. You know what a friend is, Reuven? A Greek philosopher said that two people who are true friends are like two bodies with one soul."
I nodded.
"Reuven, if you can, make Danny Saunders your friend."
"I like him a lot, abba."
"No. Listen to me. I am not talking about only liking him. I am telling you to make him your friend and to let him make you his friend.”
Chaim Potok, The Chosen
“He taught them that the purpose of a man is to make his life holy--every aspect of his life: eating, drinking praying, sleeping. God is everywhere, he told them, and if it seems at times that He is hidden from us, it is only because we have not yet learned to seek Him correctly.”
Chaim Potok, The Chosen
“If a person has a contribution to make, he must make it in public. If learning is not made public, it is a waste.”
Chaim Potok, The Chosen
“I went away and cried to the Master of the Universe, "What have you done to me? A mind like this I need for a son? A heart I need for a son, a soul I need for a son, compassion I want from my son, righteousness, mercy, strength to suffer and carry pain, that I want from my son, not a mind without a soul!”
Chaim Potok, The Chosen
“We live less than the time it takes to blink an eye, if we measure our lives against eternity. So it may be asked what value is there to a human life. There is so much pain in the world. What does it mean to have to suffer so much if our lives are nothing more than the blink of an eye? . . .I learned a long time ago, Reuven, that a blink of an eye in itself is nothing. But the eye that blinks, that is something.”
Chaim Potok, The Chosen
“Reuven, as you grow older you will discover that the most important thing that will happen to you will often come as a result of silly things, as you call them- "ordinary things" is a better expression. That is the way the world is.”
Chaim Potok, The Chosen
“The blink of an eye in itself is nothing. But the eye that blinks, that is something. A span of life is nothing. But the man who lives that span, he is something. He can fill that tiny span with meaning, so its quality is immeasurable though its quantity may be insignificant.”
Chaim Potok, The Chosen
“Honest differences of opinion should never be permitted to destroy a friendship, he told me. "Haven't you learned that yet, Reuven?”
Chaim Potok, The Chosen
“You can listen to silence, Reuven. I’ve begun to realize that you can listen to silence and learn from it. It has a quality and a dimension all its own. It talks to me sometimes. I feel myself alive in it. It talks. And I can hear it.”
Chaim Potok, The Chosen
“The silence became unreal and seemed suddenly filled with a noise of its own, the noise of a too long silence.”
Chaim Potok, The Chosen
“And then I was crying too, crying with Danny, silently, for his pain and for the years of his suffering, knowing that I loved him, and not knowing whether I hated or loved the long, anguished years of his life.”
Chaim Potok, The Chosen
“Do you know what I don't understand about that ball game? I don't understand why I wanted to kill you.”
Chaim Potok, The Chosen
“We live less than the time it takes to blink an eye, if we measure our lives against eternity...a blink of an eye in itself is nothing. But the eye that blinks, that is something. A span of life is nothing. But the man who lives that span, he is something. He can fill that tiny span with meaning, so its quality is immeasurable though its quantity may be insignificant...A man must fill his life with meaning, meaning is not automatically given to life.”
Chaim Potok, The Chosen
“A word is worth one coin, silence is worth two”
Chaim Potok, The Chosen
“Someone was playing piano nearby and the music drifted slowly in and out of my mind like the ebb and flow of ocean surf. i almost recognized the melody, but i could not be sure, it slipped like a cool and silken wind from my grasp.”
Chaim Potok, The Chosen
“I have always had this sense of books as lined up and waiting, patiently waiting, for people to find them;”
Chaim Potok, The Chosen
“...a blink of an eye in itself is nothing.But the eye that blinks, that is something. A span of life is nothing. But the man who lives that span, he is something. He can fill that tiny span with meaning, so its quality is immeasurable though its quantity may be insignificant...”
Chaim Potok, The Chosen
“When a trout rising to a fly gets hooked on a line and finds himself unable to swim about freely, he begins with a fight which results in struggles and splashes and sometimes an escape. Often, of course, the situation is too tough for him. In the same way the human being struggles with his environment and with the hooks that catch him. Sometimes he masters his difficulties; sometimes they are too much for him. His struggles are all that the world sees and it naturally misunderstands them. It is hard for a free fish to understand what is happening to a hooked one. —KARL A. MENNINGER”
Chaim Potok, The Chosen
“True happiness Consists not in the multitude of friends, But in the worth and choice. —BEN JONSON”
Chaim Potok, The Chosen
“Rabbinic literature can be studied in two different ways, in two directions, one might say. It can be studied quantitatively or qualitatively - or, as my father once put it, horizontally or vertically. The former involves covering as much material as possible, without attempting to wrest it from it all its implications and intricacies; the latter involves confining oneself to one single area until it is exhaustively covered, and then going on to new material.”
Chaim Potok, The Chosen
“Reuven, I did not want my Daniel to become like my brother, may he rest in peace. Better I should have had no son at all than to have a brilliant son who had no soul. I looked at my Daniel when he was four years old, and I said to myself, How will I teach this mind what it is to have a soul? How will I teach this mind to understand pain? How will I teach it to want to take on another person's suffering? How will I do this and not lose my son, my precious son whom I love as I love the Master of the Universe Himself? How will I do this and not cause my son, God forbid, to abandon the Master of the Universe and His Commandments? How could I teach my son the way I was taught by my father and not drive him away from Torah? Because this is America, Reuven. This is not Europe. It is an open world here. Here there are libraries and books and schools. Here there are great universities that do not concern themselves with how many Jewish students they have. I did not want to drive my son away from God, but I did not want him to grow up a mind without a soul. I knew already when he was a boy that I could not prevent his mind from going to the world for knowledge. I knew in my heart that it might prevent him from taking my place. But I had to prevent it from driving him away completely from the Master of the Universe. And I had to make certain his soul would the soul of a tzaddik no matter what he did with his life.”
Chaim Potok, The Chosen
“a blink of an eye in itself is nothing. But the eye that blinks, that is something. A span of life is nothing, But the man who lves that span, he is something… A man must fill his life with meaning, meaning is not automatically given to life. It is hard work to fill one’s life with meaning.”
Chaim Potok, The Chosen
“In “Culture Confrontation in Urban America,” Potok uses the term Zwischenmensch to define himself and his experience of cultural conflict: “Urban wanderings that result in core-culture confrontations often shape a certain kind of individual. I call that individual a Zwischenmensch, a betweenperson. Such an individual will cross the boundaries of his or her own culture and embrace life-enhancing elements from alien worlds.”
Chaim Potok, The Chosen

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