Famous Quotes & Sayings

Chaim Potok Quotes & Sayings

Enjoy the top 100 famous quotes, sayings and quotations by Chaim Potok.

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Chaim Potok Quotes 1131065

A writer is a strange instrument of our species, a harp of sorts, fine-tuned to the dark contradictions of life. — Chaim Potok

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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

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I will go wherever the truth leads me. It is secular scholarship, Rebbe; it is not the scholarship of tradition. In secular scholarship there are no boundaries and no permanently fixed views.
Lurie, if the Torah cannot go out into your world of scholarship and return stronger, then we are all fools and charlatans. I have faith in the Torah. I am not afraid of truth. — Chaim Potok

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It's nice to be able to retire. Comforting." "You think so?" he said. "Isn't it?" "No," he said. "Endings are never nice. — Chaim Potok

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Two hundred or more years ago most people on the planet were never aware of any reality other than the one into which they were brought up. — Chaim Potok

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I'm not altogether certain that a fundamentalism of necessity has to argue that it is the only reading of the human experience in order to stay alive. — Chaim Potok

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Art is whether or not there is a scream in him wanting to get out in a special way. — Chaim Potok

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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

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My father's right to shape my life had been taken from him by the same being who gave his own life meaning - the Rebbe. — Chaim Potok

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... the world will indulge you just so long Asher Lev. Then it will stop. You will simply have to grow accustomed to that truth. — Chaim Potok

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An artist is a person first. He is an individual. If there is no person, there is no artist. — Chaim Potok

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I walked the streets and tasted the golden sun that lay across the city. — Chaim Potok

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All of us grow up in particular realities - a home, family, a clan, a small town, a neighborhood. Depending upon how we're brought up, we are either deeply aware of the particular reading of reality into which we are born, or we are peripherally aware of it. — Chaim Potok

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I think the hardest part of writing is revising. And by that I mean the following: A novelist has to create the piece of marble and then chip away to find the figure in it. — Chaim Potok

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I think that to a very great extent we are partners with the divine in this enterprise called history. That is an ongoing relationship, and there is absolutely no guarantee that things will automatically work out to our best advantage. — Chaim Potok

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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

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I won't talk to you about my family and you won't talk to me about yours. Family talk is either boring or self-pitying. Or it's Gothic, like a Faulkner novel. Who needs to talk about it? It's enough to live it. — Chaim Potok

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Good-bye, Davita. Be discontented with the world. But be respectful at the same time. — Chaim Potok

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And these two elements are at odds with one another because Freud is utterly adversary to almost all the ways of structuring the human experience found in Western religions. No Western religion can countenance Freud's view of man. — Chaim Potok

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Art begins ... when someone interprets, when someone sees the world through his own eyes. Art happens when what is seen becomes mixed with the inside of the person who is seeing it. — Chaim Potok

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Yes, there is some thought about making a film of My Name Is Asher Lev. — Chaim Potok

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But today we become aware of other readings of the human experience very quickly because of the media and the speed with which people travel the planet. — Chaim Potok

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Two people who are true friends are like two bodies with one soul — Chaim Potok

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Was it a pretty drawing, Asher?'
'No Mama. But it was a good drawing ... I don't want to make pretty drawings, Mama. — Chaim Potok

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It's only a book. But what it means to write a book. — Chaim Potok

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A choice tells the world what is most important to a human being. When a man has a choice to make he chooses what is most important to him, and that choice tells the world what kind of a man he is. — Chaim Potok

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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

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It's not a pretty world, Papa.'
'I've noticed,' my father said softly. — Chaim Potok

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To the extent that I come from a deeply religious tradition and have been contending with those beginnings all of my life - that constitutes the subject of much of my early fiction. — Chaim Potok

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We need to listen to one another. — Chaim Potok

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In Russia I went to a great yeshiva, and in America I work in a carnival. — Chaim Potok

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There was an unearthly quality to the way he sang that melody that night - as if he were winging through unknown worlds in search of sources of strength beyond himself. His eyes were open, fixed, but gazing inward. There was a sweetness and sadness, a sense of pain and yearning in his voice - soft, tremulous, climbing and falling and climbing again. And when he was done there was a long silence - and in that silence I thought I heard distant cries, and I was afraid. — Chaim Potok

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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

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We become like dead branches and last year's leaves and what the hell good are we for ourselves and the world in a mental ghetto. — Chaim Potok

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A book is sent out into the world, and there is no way of fully anticipating the responses it will elicit. Consider the responses called forth by the Bible, Homer, Shakespeare - let alone contemporary poetry or a modern novel. — Chaim Potok

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Do you know what I don't understand about that ball game? I don't understand why I wanted to kill you. — Chaim Potok

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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

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He looked down at the books. There was a long silence. Then he raised his eyes and directed his gaze at Gershon, and Gershon did not look away. "I will tell you, Loran what is of importance is not that there may be nothing. We have always acknowledged that as a possibility. What is important is that if indeed there is nothing, then we should be prepared to make something out of the one thing we have left to us
ourselves. I do not know what else to tell you, Loran. No one is in possession of all wisdom. No one." Gershon sat in silence, looking at Nathan Malkuson. — Chaim Potok

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It's my world, best friend. And I haven't seen anything outside that's better. — Chaim Potok

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He should be careful of the influence of those with whom he consorts, and he runs a great risk in becoming a member of a large society, for large bodies tend toward the leveling of individuality to a common consent, the forming and adherence to a creed. — Chaim Potok

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Take care of your father," he said. "There aren't many people like him around anymore. — Chaim Potok

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My name is Asher Lev ... I am a traitor, an apostate, a self-hater, an inflicter of shame upon my family, my friends, my people; also, I am a mocker of ideas sacred to Christians, a blasphemous manipulator of modes and forms revered by Gentiles for two thousand years. — Chaim Potok

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You don't want to make mistakes with people. Sometimes when you make a mistake you lose a human soul. — Chaim Potok

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Did he really believe God wrote stories that were open to one explanation only? A story that knew but one explanation could hardly be interesting and was certainly not worth the trouble of remembering. — Chaim Potok

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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

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How should a Jew feel? There we went through the seven gates of hell for matzos. Here I stand in matzos over my head. So how should a Jew feel? You are an angel of God, and the Rebbe, he should live and be well, the Rebbe made miracles and wonders for me. At night, I tell myself it is a dream and I am afraid to wake up. If it is a dream, better I should not wake up, better I should die in my sleep. — Chaim Potok

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Each generation thinks it fights new battles. But the battles are the same. Only the people are different. — Chaim Potok

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Perhaps. But it is childish to think of what might have been. — Chaim Potok

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Millions of people can draw. Art is whether there is a scream in you wanting to get out in a special way. — Chaim Potok

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As a species we are always hungry for new knowledge. — Chaim Potok

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A person must know who he is. A person must understand himself, improve himself, learn his weaknesses in order to overcome them. It is hard for a person to understand his own weaknesses. — Chaim Potok

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A life is measured by how it is lived for the sake of heaven. — Chaim Potok

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The everyday was king. And the courtiers were popularization, superficiality, doubt, cynicism. The century was exhausted. — Chaim Potok

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Oh, it makes a difference, I thought. And if it doesn't make a difference you will make it make a difference. — Chaim Potok

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They are so rigid,' he said in a sudden angry voice. 'Why do they not see that this rigidity turns away our greatest minds? — Chaim Potok

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Honest differences of opinion should never be permitted to destroy a friendship, he told me. Haven't you learned that yet, Reuven? — Chaim Potok

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I don't work on my Sabbath. I write five-and-a-half or six days a week. — Chaim Potok

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Now I stand on the knoll before the grave of Jacob Kahn, the cypress tall against the blue morning sky and the wind warm on my face. It is the only sense left me, I hear him say. There are colors in the wind, Asher Lev. Find your demons again and return to your work. Colors wait for you in the wind. Things were too comfortable for you. An artist needs a broken world in order to have pieces to shape into art. Isn't that right, Asher Lev? Comfort is death to art. Asher Lev, artist. Asher Lev, troubler. Asher Lev, my future. His voice weaves through the wind, and I add to it the words of the psalmist, " 'Protect me, O God, for I seek refuge in You. I say to the Lord, Your are my benefactor; there is no one above You ... ' " The wind is red and black in the trembling cypress. — Chaim Potok

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Little Asher Lev was the juncture point of two significant family lines, the apex, as it were, of a triangle seminal with Jewish potentiality and freighted with Jewish responsibility. But he was also born with a gift. — Chaim Potok

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They become angry and ugly and they fight anything that's a threat to them. We have to learn how to fight back without hurting them too much. — Chaim Potok

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If everybody who had brains and doubts left Orthodoxy, we would be in a great deal of trouble. — Chaim Potok

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There are times when those who fear God make themselves very unpleasant as human beings. — Chaim Potok

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It is impossible to fuse totally with a culture for which you feel a measure of antagonism. — Chaim Potok

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We cannot build our lives around sickness, Asher. We must have faith in the Master of the Universe. — Chaim Potok

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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

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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

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There is in my work a very strong religious foreground and background. In the later work some of that tends to diminish, but it's certainly present in the early work. — Chaim Potok

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Literature presents you with alternate mappings of the human experience. You see that the experiences of other people and other cultures are as rich, coherent, and troubled as your own experiences. They are as beset with suffering as yours. Literature is a kind of legitimate voyeurism through the keyhole of language where you really come to know other people's lives
their anguish, their loves, their passions. Often you discover that once you dive into those lives and get below the surface, the veneer, there is a real closeness. — Chaim Potok

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Seeds must be sown everywhere. Only some will bear fruit. But there would not be the fruit from the few had the many not been sown — Chaim Potok

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When the alternative is possible disaster, a man must gamble. — Chaim Potok

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I grew up encrusted with lead and spectrumed with crayons. My dearest companions were Eberhard and Crayola. Washing for meals was a cosmic enterprise. — Chaim Potok

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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

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Can you understand what it means for something to be incomplete?" my mother had once asked me. I understood, I understood. — Chaim Potok

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Come, let us have some tea and continue to talk about happy things. — Chaim Potok

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No one knows he is fortunate until he becomes unfortunate, that's the way the world is. — Chaim Potok

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I sat near a window in our little synagogue and looked out at the large church and wondered how a statue whose face was so full of love could be worshipped by someone whose heart was so full of hate. — Chaim Potok

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Williamsburg was stifling, narcotized by the heat. — Chaim Potok

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Gershon had never seen him so transformed, so possessed of open radiance, so easily moved by all around him, so hungry, so eager. The city was a woman, and he embraced it with all the tender and gentle adoration one brings to a first love. — Chaim Potok

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An artist has got to get acquainted with himself just as much as he can. It is no easy job, for it is not a present-day habit of humanity. — Chaim Potok

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And yet there are some magnificent things from Freud, profound insights into the nature of man. — Chaim Potok

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But I do not know how else the work can be done. To touch a person's heart, you must see a person's face. One cannot reach a soul through a telephone. — Chaim Potok

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A word is worth one coin, silence is worth two — Chaim Potok

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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

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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

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I do not know what evil is when it comes to art. I only know what is good art and what is bad art. — Chaim Potok

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It is when you are angry that you must watch how you talk. — Chaim Potok

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A man must sometimes be forced to make choices, for it is only by his choices that we know what a man truly is. — Chaim Potok

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How can we expect to know everything about God?"
He looked at me, his eyes narrowing.
"I call that ambiguity," I said. "Riddles, puzzles, double meanings, lost possibilities, the dark side to the light, the light side to the darkness, different perspectives on the same thing. Nothing in this whole world has only one side to it. Everything is like a kaleidoscope. That's what I'm trying to capture in my art. That's what I mean by ambiguity. — Chaim Potok

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Art is a person's private vision expressed in aesthetic forms. — Chaim Potok

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One derives great moral strength from a cup of coffee, I said. — Chaim Potok

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The silence became unreal and seemed suddenly filled with a noise of its own, the noise of a too long silence. — Chaim Potok

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I get up around 6:30. I work from about 8:00 to 1:00, take a break for lunch, work again until about 5:00, and then go for a long walk and have dinner. Then, if my wife and I have no previous plans, we decide what to do for the evening. — Chaim Potok

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In our time ... a man whose enemies are faceless bureaucrats almost never wins. It is our equivalent to the anger of the gods in ancient times. But those gods you must understand were far more imaginative than our tiny bureaucrats. They spoke from mountaintops not from tiny airless offices. They rode clouds. They were possessed of passion. They had voices and names. Six thousand years of civilization have brought us to this. — Chaim Potok

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I held it close to my face and smelled the ink. I have always loved the smell of ink in a new book. — Chaim Potok

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Well, in The Chosen, Danny Saunders, from the heart of his religious reading of the world, encounters an element in the very heart of the secular readings of the world - Freudian psychoanalytic theory. — Chaim Potok

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How do I convince him that the way we study Talmud is not a threat?'
'But it is a threat, Reuven. I just told you it is a threat. In the hands of those who do not love the tradition it is a dangerous weapon.'
'Everything is dangerous in the wrong hands. How do I convince him that we're not a threat? — Chaim Potok

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Obstacles are given us in order to make our desire even stronger. The more a thing is hidden from man, the more he desires it, and the greater the chance he will one day discover it. — Chaim Potok

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God is merciful in what He sometimes lets us forget. — Chaim Potok

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What I have in advance are people I want to write about and a problem or problems that I see those people encountering and that I want to explore - it all proceeds sentence by sentence, paragraph by paragraph, and scene by scene. — Chaim Potok

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Every man who has shown the world the way to beauty, to true culture, has been a rebel, a 'universal' without patriotism, without home who has found his people everywhere. — Chaim Potok