Skip over navigation

My Name is Asher Lev

Chaim Potok

Chapter 8

Chapters 6 and 7

Chapter 8, page 2

page 1 of 3

Asher calls Jacob Kahn in the middle of March. Kahn is satisfied that he has sufficiently studied Guernica and they agree to meet the following Sunday. Kahn tells Asher to study the story of the Massacre of the Innocents from the New Testament and the painting of the story by Guido Reni. He emphasizes to Asher that he is asking him to read from "The bible of the goyim."

Asher does as he is told, but feels particularly uncomfortable about reading the New Testament. He wonders what his father and the Rebbe his think. His mother brings him a book called The Art Spirit that one of the professors in the art department at her university recommended he read.

The book says that a great artist needs to free himself completely from all the traditional influence people. Rivkeh asks Asher what he thinks about this passage of the book. He responds that he does not feel that he needs to free himself in that manner.

Asher stays up late mulling over art the night before he is to meet with Jacob Kahn for the first time. He forgets to study for his algebra test the next day.

Kahn greets Asher warmly and immediately introduces him to Anna Schaeffer, a gallery owner. Anna questions Asher about his life, his family, and his beliefs. When he tells her that he thinks man's purpose is to sanctify the world, she tells him that he should not become a professional artist. He shows her his artwork and she is amazed by it. She cannot get over the fact that this Hasidic boy has such a prodigious talent.

Kahn berates Asher. He tells him that he can use his skill to create pretty things for which he is commissioned; he does not need to torture himself by becoming an artist, by entering Kahn's world. Anna chastises Jacob for being so discouraging. He replies that he wants to frighten Asher, for him to return home and be a model Jew.

More Help

Previous Next

Readers' Notes allow users to add their own analysis and insights to our SparkNotes—and to discuss those ideas with one another. Have a novel take or think we left something out? Add a Readers' Note!