My Name is Asher Lev (by Chaim Potok) just keeps getting better, doesn’t it?
As we have finished two sections, I’m left feeling torn. Torn. Torn. As, it seems, is the state most of the characters are in too.
Rivkeh is torn between her husband and her son.
Aryeh is torn between following the Rebbe and not completely washing his hands of his son (and, he is also torn between his love for his son and not understanding him).
Asher is torn with how much to follow Jacob Kahn and his fellow-Jews. Torn between being bullied and using his art powers for putting others in their place. Torn between how far he is willing to go to follow his art and where are boundaries he can’t cross.
Jesus said he came that we might have life and have it in abundance. How does this truth, that we KNOW, we KNOW is true, gel with the reality of tearing that we too have experienced? How do we live with these competing pulls without wearying and turning our backs on one or the other?
By this point in the novel we can see Asher continuing to be of being misunderstood in relation to his calling as an artist. Unlike the hope of his father, instead of growing out of his interest in art, Asher has leaned into it and more clearly aligned with the art world. He is living with the misunderstanding in part by hiding. Here I’m thinking of when he knows how nude drawings will be perceived by the community (and his parents), yet also understanding the need as an artist to learn to from this genre as well. He live with the tension at first, by not sharing that piece of himself with his Jewish community. And as he grows in confidence in that part of himself, slowly offers it to the community.
Yet, we know there are boundaries and not everything is permissible just because someone feels called. How do you know when you (or others) are being called and understand it is an area that will be met with resistance? Have you or others you know experienced this tension? I can’t wait to hear how this aspect of the book has touched you thus far!
For fun, let’s upload pictures of art we like or have made — stick figures are more than welcome — and art is open to interpretation, get creative :).
Next week we will explore themes of tensions that may exist between art and religion and the ways the characters changed over the book (have finished the book). Be sure to check in for our next book AND a give-away!
What do you think of the book? See you in the comments!
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