My Name is Asher Lev

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Summary

Chapters 6 and 7

Summary Chapters 6 and 7

The community in which Asher lives is very tight knit—everyone knows everything that goes on. In this chapter, Asher encounters this in the form of many people talking to him about his studies. The litany of people that encounter Asher about his lack of interest in studying serves to emphasize how monolithic the Ladover community is. It also shows the extent to which this community is uniformly opposed to that which is so precious to Asher.

Asher muses that his father, in his absence, is more a part of his life now than when he was at home, since everyone is asking about his studies. Aryeh, being the one to have all these people talk to Asher, is portrayed as the paradigm of Ladover society. His ideals are aligned with those of the community and consequently opposed to Asher's. Not surprisingly, Asher begins to equate mainstream Ladover society with his father, seeing his father in his interactions with those from the community who would try to get him to give up art for Torah.

Chapter 7 is a major turning point in the life of Asher Lev. His interest in art has now been sanctioned by his community, and the Rebbe approves of his continued artistic work and development. For most Ladover boys his age, the major milestone is becoming a Bar Mitzvah, a fully participatory member of the Jewish community. For Asher, this is not paramount. His Bar Mitzvah celebration is an afterthought. He does not seem particularly excited or affected in any way by the change in his status from a minor to one who can participate fully in Jewish ritual. Rather, he is focused far more on the opportunity he will have to grow as an artist. This privileging of the artistic event over the religious one gives us an insight into Asher's character and foreshadows his future development, where art takes precedence over conformity to the standards of his Ladover community.

The power of the Rebbe is fully expressed in Chapter 7. He, not Aryeh, gets to decide what is the best path for Asher. The rest of the community accepts and reveres his decision, even if they do not understand it.