My Name is Asher Lev. Chaim Potok.

Who knew when I saw Potok’s “The Chosen” on a friend’s coffee table I would end up reading nearly all of his books again.  (I read most of his books 10 or more years ago!)  He is an engaging story teller, and the Orthodox Jewish culture he immerses his readers in I find completelyfascinating.  “My Name is Asher Lev” is definitely one of my favorites, as it also immerses you in the world of art, which while I have always found fascinating I know very little about.

In the story Lev ends up painting a couple paintings that are devastating to his community and family (I don’t want to say any thing more as I hate spoilers!).  I found the following image that is supposed to be like one he painted, though I don’t know for sure where it came from.

Picasso’s Guernica comes up a few times as well, with the quote “You will take a journey to the Museum of Modern Art, you will go up to the second floor, and you will look at a painting called Guernica, by Picasso. You will study this painting. You will memorize this painting. You will do whatever you feel you have to do in order to master this painting.”

And finally my normal list quotes:

  • Every man is responsible for what he does, because he has a will and by that will he directs his life.
  • The candle of God is the soul of man.
  • A life should be lived for the sake of heaven. One man is not better than another because he is a doctor while the other is a shoemaker. One man is not better than another because he is a lawyer while the other is a painter. A life is measured by how it is lived for the sake of heaven. Do you understand me, Asher Lev?
  • If you want to know how to do a thing you must first have a complete desire to do that thing. Then go to kindred spirits—others who have wanted to do that thing—and study their ways and means, learn from their successes and failures and add your quota. Thus you may acquire from the experience of the race. And with this technical knowledge you may go forward, expressing through the play of forms the music that is in you and which is very personal to you.
  • No one will listen to what you have to say unless they are convinced you have mastered it. Only one who has mastered a tradition has a right to attempt to add to it or to rebel against it.
  • My father used to fast. I could never understand the point to it. I fasted a few times when I was young. But when I came to Paris I stopped because it meant nothing to me. It meant nothing to me when I lived in Berlin in the twenties and again in Paris in the thirties. I have had long discussions with the Rebbe about fasting. I have lost the faculty of appreciating such an act of faith.
  • It is both a weakness and a strength to be so stubborn.

p.s. this was my 1st full read on a kindle!

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