The Chosen

by: Chaim Potok

Important Quotations Explained

Quotes Important Quotations Explained

Quote 4

“[My father] taught me with silence. . .to look into myself, to find my own strength, to walk around inside myself in company with my soul. . . . One learns of the pain of others by suffering one’s own pain … by turning inside oneself. . . . It makes us aware of how frail and tiny we are and of how much we must depend upon the Master of the Universe.”

Using Reuven as an intermediary, Reb Saunders speaks these words to Danny in Chapter 18. In his speech, Reb Saunders finally reveals his reasons for imposing silence upon Danny for so many years. Up to this point, Reuven has tacitly assumed that Reb Saunders’s silence was a cruel punishment that reflected emotional distance and a lack of love. Here, Reb Saunders explains that his silence has very noble, loving intentions: he wanted Danny to find his own soul.

We see that silence, as Reb Saunders intended it, functions very similarly to Reuven’s experience in the hospital. After his eye accident, Reuven developed a heightened appreciation for his physical senses. Furthermore, after witnessing the suffering of others, Reuven developed a sense of empathy for others. His experience was painful but life-changing. Reb Saunders describes the experience of being raised in silence along similar lines. Silence, he argues, engenders introspection, creates humility and empathy, deepens one’s appreciation for life, and affirms one’s sense of commitment to others and to God.