My Name is Asher Lev

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Summary

Chapters 6 and 7

Summary Chapters 6 and 7

Asher studies with the Mashpia to prepare for the meeting he will have with the Rebbe before he becomes a Bar Mitzvah, a fully fledged member of Jewish society, obligated in all the laws. Asher goes to the Rebbe's office and has a conversation with the Rebbe's right hand man as he waits. The Rebbe calls Asher into his office and gives him his blessing. He tells Asher that he should live life for the sake of God.

Asher leaves the Rebbe's office to discover a drawing of his face sitting on the chair in the waiting room that he had occupied. The drawing is signed, "Jacob Kahn, 1–10–56." Asher draws a picture of Jacob Kahn, signs it, affixes the date in the Jewish calendar, 26 Tevet 5716, and leaves the drawing on the chair Kahn had occupied.

As Asher leaves the building, Kahn comes outside and introduces himself. He tells Asher that the Rebbe is very clever—in designating Kahn to teach Asher, he is hoping Asher will not completely depart from the faith. Kahn explains that he is not a Torah observant Jew, but he has great respect for the Rebbe. Kahn asks Asher if he has seen has paintings in the museum. Asher responds that he has, but has not understood them. Kahn warns Asher that he is "entering the world of the goyim." Kahn tells Asher to study Picasso's Guernia and to call him in March.

Asher returns home, elated, and tells his parents what has transpired. His father is unhappy, but his mother responds that the Rebbe has decided that this is the best path. Asher sees his father as becoming detached from him, unable to deal with the path he will take. Asher goes weekly to the Museum of Modern Art in Manhattan and studies Guernica religiously. In the middle of March, he calls Jacob Kahn.

Analysis

Asher records the exact date—December 26, 1953—that he first uses oil paints. Other things that happen are not given specific dates in the book. This is to demostrate the immense significance the event holds in his mind. It stands out as something he remembers vividly, as opposed to many of the other memories that are sometimes hazy and never placed at such a precise moment.

Potok's use of Asher as a narrative is particularly useful in the scene where Rivkeh interrupts Asher while he is painting to ask about his father's letter concerning school. Being inside Asher's head, the reader learns much bout what Asher is thinking about the painting. Just as Asher, the reader barely notices Rivkeh Lev asking her question. The reader experiences Rivkeh as an annoyance, interrupting an important discovery about painting that Asher is making.