❰Epub❯ ➟ The Gift of Asher Lev Author Chaim Potok – Iphoneleaks.co.uk

summary The Gift of Asher Lev, series The Gift of Asher Lev, book The Gift of Asher Lev, pdf The Gift of Asher Lev, The Gift of Asher Lev c26b7be4ba Rivals Anything Chaim Potok Has Ever Produced It Is A Book Written With Passion About Passion You Re Not Likely To Read Anything Better This Year THE DETROIT NEWSTwenty Years Have Passed For Asher Lev He Is A World Renowned Artist Living In France, Still Uncertain Of His Artistic Direction When His Beloved Uncle Dies Suddenly, Asher And His Family Rush Back To Brooklyn And Into A World That Asher Thought He Had Left Behind Forever From The Paperback Edition


10 thoughts on “The Gift of Asher Lev

  1. says:

    Acting Into a New Way of Thinking What a person does is what he is, says the father of Asher Lev This is the central theme of Potok s book and, in a sense, it is the essence of Judaism How one acts, one s ethical impact on the world, describes everything that is relevant about a person Deeds not words may seem a mere shibboleth until it as taken as seriously as it is by the Hasidim for whom even the smallest and apparently trivial human act entering a room, switching on a light, greeting one s spouse or parents has cosmic significance In Hasidic Judaism it is punctillious behaviour toward others and towards the world not belief, not intent, not doctrinal thought which is the sign and carrier of one s religion and therefore of one s self, one s family, one s society, one s world.Judaism in other words, not Ancient Greece, nor medieval Christianity is the origin of what has come to be known as virtue ethics , the idea that one can act oneself into a better mode of being Put simply the only way to be a better person is to behave like one And better has an operational meaning in Orthodox Judaism that which brings the world closer to being a suitable dwelling place for the Almighty in the form of his Messiah This is the world of the Torah, a world of hope and trust not of blind faith and formalized dogmatics The difference is crucial The Torah, and therefore God in the world, lives as it is acted out.Judaism is consequently a remarkable ethos It implies the ultimate salvation not of an individual but of the entire world based on the dedication of a quorum of individuals who choose how to behave properly toward one another And salvation comes about not through one s thoughts but through one s relationships That is to say, the spiritual force of redemption is present in human beings as a divine gift of creation which is in a way returned in kind when it is acted upon It is possible to reject such an ethos but only by placing the power of human intellect beyond the claims of human responsibility to and for others.It is, therefore, not inaccurate, although perhaps a bit unconventional, to say that humanity is the route through which God is redeemed within his creation As one character notes, Without man, what is God And without God, what is man Everyone needs the help of someone to complete the work of Creation that is never truly completed Everyone The consciousness of this force in every act is the manner in which the gift of free will is acknowledged and respected The Messiah will arrive when the world is sufficiently prepared by human effort Our responsibility as human beings is therefore to act appropriately Thinking, believing, and theologizing are optional hobbies.Nevertheless, even in Judaism, conscious action can deteriorate into mere habit and stifling tradition Behaviour then becomes fetishistic ritualism, little than a mark of tribal membership Its usefulness becomes that of political weapon or self serving rationale for pursuing personal interests Such a fate probably threatens all institutions not just religious ones Doing things a certain way because they ve always been done that way is an ideology than an ethic.Asher Lev s artistic life follows a parallel evolutionary path to that of his Hasidic sect Both drive towards sameness for the sake of continuity rather than for improvement in the readiness of the world for salvation Redemption is never finished to assume otherwise is smug in religion as well as art Finding a way beyond the staleness of one s own conventions is as difficult for an individual as it is for a religious community It takes a transformation, the force of which seems to come from elsewhere as a gift We often call this gift truth and it may not be easy to bear, so that it must be uncovered slowly and with great care lest its fires burn and its power destroy The form of this gift in Potok s story is literally a riddle posed by the Hasidic Rabbi Acceptance of this gift engagement with the riddle s meaning is also a return to its hidden source through which both Lev and his sect are renewed artistically as well as spiritually Then again, perhaps these are two ways of expressing the same event of a regenerated ethical awareness brought about by acting differently It s certainly a lot effective than trying to think your way into a new way of acting.Postscript Also see


  2. says:

    I finished this book before I even had time to add it to my Currently Reading list There will never be enough Potok in my life.


  3. says:

    When I started this installment from Mr Potok, the room where I read it was naturally dry.Line by line, chapter by chapter, I survived the frissons of emotion And at some point, I acquiesced By the end of the tale, I became sober in my instability and I allowed the sorrow that has always resided uncomfortably within, to flow with abandon.We have read a few authors in his phalanx, whose pens not only release ink and words, but somehow create an internal disturbance, even in a safe environment while engaged in a leisurely activity.Ab initio, Chaim Potok has deeply affected my world From youth, heretofore, he is my go to prophet, a personal angel that descends to remind me to read his works again He offers an avuncular arm around the reader s shoulder, and additionally, a succor not easily found.This secular yet spiritual reader is not sure why There need not be an answer to every question asked In fact, most answers reveal little, and even then, they are suspect Gratitude, over and again, for the capacity to read this person s efforts.And that is good enough.


  4. says:

    Spoilers for My Name is Asher Lev and this book below.Does God have a plan or are we at the mercy of an uncaring universe where bad things happen to good people The question of whether or not the universe is ordered permeates this book, though in a rather subtle way The book doesn t actually provide an answer to this question, but this question weighs on the minds of the characters as their world becomes uncertain.I m not going to lie, I thought the ending of My Name Is Asher Lev was a major downer Asher ends up alienating his family and community, leaving Brooklyn to create art in Europe He was a smash hit artistically but it seemed like his relationship with his father was irreparably damaged.Flash forward 20ish years and Asher is a well established, world renown artist coming off a commercially successful but critically panned exhibition He is the father of two children and happily married, spending his days painting in southern France before a family tragedy calls him and his family back to Brooklyn.This book was similar to My Name is Asher Lev in terms of the writing It is focused on Asher and his internal state of mind throughout the course of the months he spends back in Brooklyn We see how he views his loving but still traumatized from the war wife, his children, his parents whom he has reconciled with nicely, though not fully , and the community he returns to We see him struggle with doubt stemming from the fallout of his Paris show and the balancing of his familial obligations with his drive to create art It had some gorgeous prose and but was also quite accessible.Unlike My Name is Asher Lev, there is no tension in this book between Asher s art and the Ladover community save for the occasional How could you create those paintings comments that popped up, though there were just as many supportive voices as well Instead the main tensions seemed to be between the Rebbe wanting Asher and his family to stay longer and Asher wanting to return home to France.It slowly dawns on Asher that there is a deeper purpose to the Rebbe s attention towards Asher and especially his son, attention that will have long term effects on the entire Ladover community and Asher s family Where the first book left me sad but hopeful for future reconciliation, this ending left me with a deeper sadness that Asher will forever be apart both from his family and his community because of the drive he possesses to create art It is a bittersweet story of a family coming together while at the same time being separated by an ocean and a lifestyle.Much like My Name is Asher Lev, there are many side story lines that crop up the disposition of Asher s uncle s surprisingly amazing art collection, touching base with some friends back in Southern France, his daughter s asthma, settling a debt to the family of a deceased friend, etc These were all enjoyable diversions on their own, but unlike the previous book, they did not come together together in an elegant manner that amplified the thrust of the book s message Instead they struck me a small, self contained vignettes They were nice adornments but ultimately felt underdeveloped or inadequately related to the main theme of the book.Overall I thought this book did no live up to its predecessor It still had Potok s excellent prose and imagery, memorable characters, and a fascinating plot, but it struck me as a bit too loose in the plotting Perhaps I am missing some subtle connection between all the encounters Asher had, but I never felt Potok drew the whole book together in the end with the same elegance he demonstrated in My Name is Asher Lev It was a very good and engrossing read hence the four stars but I did not have the same transcendent feeling I had when I finished the first book.


  5. says:

    A wonderful complex novel about individuality vs the community, with religion, art, family and depression all thrown in the mix That, and mesmerising prose Potok, you legend.


  6. says:

    I LOVED this book I think everyone one who has read My Name is Asher Lev should read this book It took me all summer to read, basically because it is the kind of book that you linger over I savored reading it, and really didn t want to finish Not only are the chapters beautifully written, but the storyline balances out the difficulties Asher faced in his youth This is twenty years later, when he has a wife and 2 children, and is now returning to the U.S It is about redemption, hope, and surviving both the peaks and valleys of life I am sure one of the reasons I love this book is because as an art historian, I am interested in understanding Asher s art and his quest to make it meaningful I think though, in a broader sense, Asher s situation applies to anyone seeking to foster creativity and beauty in their lives and come to terms with day to day spirituality How do we make sense of God s apparent absence How do we go on in faithfulness despite the inexplicable evils trials difficulties This is Asher s dilemma and Potok presents it thoughtfully without cliched, empty answers, but with a underlying sense of the power of resilience and optimism.


  7. says:

    I m going to give away the end, so you may need to stop reading But it s the end I want to talk about First, I adored the earlier book, My Name is Asher Lev 1972 I think it is, without exaggeration, a profound statement on the integrity of the artist Second, everyone told me that the sequel, The Gift of Asher Lev 1990 , wasn t very good Well, it wasn t as good as the first, but it wasn t that bad, either I still found it absorbing, worth reading, and very interesting Generally speaking, I m not a fan of sequels, though I understand the desire for them It just seems like a sequel is inevitably disappointing, so it s a set up for disaster But the thing is that we just love Asher so much and Rocky and Han Solo and Bruce Willis what was his name in Die Hard and we care, so we want to know about their well being, their fate We re suckers for sequels If Potok had to say about Asher Lev, I had to find out what it was Third, what I really wanted, after this sequel, was a memoir by Potok on Potok, no doubt an interesting guy He never wrote that memoir.The Gift of Asher Lev finds Asher to be a world renowned artist, living in France with his wife a nice Jewish girl and two kids He is still a practicing Hasidic Jew, though the religious community is pretty much suspicious of him at every turn He is in exile An artist and a Jew It s an uneasy relationship, but he manages.Then, his uncle in Brooklyn dies He goes back to New York with his French family A trip to mourn a death turns into months, and then there s the decision to stay or to go At the heart of the decision is this gift Asher, like Abraham in the Old Testament the book draws this comparison , will sacrifice his son By allowing his child to stay in Brooklyn, Asher is acquiescing to the Rebbe s the rabbi s implicit decision to groom the boy to be the future Rebbe This is the gift of Asher Lev, not his art.But Asher, despite a happy marriage and children he loves, doesn t stay himself He chooses his art He returns to France, while his family stays in Brooklyn He will return on holidays His life as an artist is in France Asher wonders to himself, as he ponders his gift, whether the Rebbe counted on the helpless self centeredness of the artist s soul That s about my yearly quota for plot summary.When I first started reading this sequel, I wanted to write about anger Asher struck me as slightly angry I liked him, but his anger stood out And, then, in my meanderings, I began to wonder if all artists are angry Is anger part of it Am I angry I probably am I m not sure this is a good thing or a necessary thing, though I just think that art Art often involves standing in opposition to something That can make one angry But there s a lot to say about this, and I ll save it.Rather, that end He left his family You know what I think that s B.S I think that sucks The helpless self centeredness of the artist s soul Even if it s totally true, let s resist it When I read about Asher in Paris and Asher in the South of France, a part of me wants that I want to sit in cafes, go to Giverny, wander through a garden But this too is true I ve been to a number of exotic locations all alone While part of it was really great, another part really sucked Artists may be myopic, self absorbed, possessing secret and highly privatized thought lives that allow them to seem present when they re really not Artists may be alienated, eccentric, given to depression even Artists may be lousy parents, lousy spouses, lousy followers of religion Artists may crave exotic and even solitary ventures upon occasion But, really, this made me slightly irate Don t be an idiot When it comes down to it, stay with your kid Asher, take the family back to France or stay in Brooklyn with them You think you re doing your art a favor You re not You ve got a family, man.Why so irate I guess it s my past I had a lot of time alone I wrote a lot In exotic and solitary places Everyone who knows about my family life knows how, um, challenging it s been The last time I traveled abroad was on my belated honeymoon to Alaska Tim and I were in Vancouver for a night or two Then, we immediately had kids I love to travel I have these cravings, these fantasies Greece, India, Tibet, Egypt, Indonesia I d write and write and write I d go on glass bottom boats, walk through markets, sleep on cots near purple lizards Somehow or other, I d be okay with the lizards.But, really, where is the material, the true grist, the stuff of life Alone in Paris I m sorry for going crazy I find Potok and his unique questioning to be fascinating and appropriate and important I didn t love this book s conclusion The gift was no gift at all How old are you Do you remember the Eighties Do you remember Wham Do you remember when George Michael used to wear those t shirts that said Choose Life Life is among the living Choose life.


  8. says:

    SPOILER ALERT This review talks about some of the main plot lines in the book.These books are full of excellent symbolism, from Asher s crucifixion paintings connoting the suffering of especially his mother but perhaps of the whole Jewish community, to his picture of Abraham with Isaac, Isaac actually being sacrificed I think about Asher s father being full of rage seeing the pictures, and I think of a man who hasn t learned much in life, unable to understand anything except extremely conservative interpretations of the Torah done by generations past Knowing that Chaim Potok was a Rabbi lifts the book to a higher level He must have been much like Asher, able to have a complete understanding of all levels of living the religion and at the same time, able to express the obvious pitfalls and problems with such a conservative way of thinking and living life I m almost thinking maybe he was trying to get his people to become a bit understanding and to be careful how they judge and handle their own who step outside of the box To me, he painted Asher as the finest most moral person of all of them, the extreme opposite of good old Yonkle To some extent, the Rebbe exhibited this kind of careful behavior with both Asher and Jacob, still loved and accepted them However, when he banished Asher from the community, I felt his actions were a bit extreme How about moving to Midtown instead of France I have read that many Jewish groups have banned these books and look down on them This is not surprising because there is no doubt a lot of criticism of the conservative and blindly obedient behavior that is portrayed here by the leaders and conservatives in both of these books And yet Asher stays true to the teachings and continues to honor the wishes of the Rebbe, so much so that he is willing to give Avrumel to his father and the Rebbe for the sake of continuity in the leadership going forward In my opinion, this is no gift, it is Abraham sacrificing Isaac just as in Asher s painting and really, as has been done to Asher ever since he wanted to become an artist Asher is Isaac who has been sacrificed because it is The Master of the Universe s will and Asher still believes it to the point that he obediently allows it to happen So for me, this sacrifice is supremely unfair and wrong and shows how selfish and blind those people leading cultish types of religions can be all the while believing they are doing the right thing It is the worst thing about religion And I think of the extreme Muslims and their suicide bombings A step worse than how Asher is treated and taught, but comes out of the same extremist and horrible thinking I ended up loving Asher and caring about him very much I wish that he would have been chosen Rebbe Now we d have a religion worth liking.


  9. says:

    I really wanted to like this book, because I loved My Name is Asher Lev Unfortunately, this book just wasn t nearly up to snuff To begin with, nothing happens Asher, the main character, in particular is static The entire book he has painter s block, so he just mopes around as is depressed A large portion of the book is also flashbacks which in the case of his wife are sometimes pretty interesting and touching her character is a good new one to get to know or else Asher s intuition about the future But the future never comes, even at the end of the book The situation is almost the exact same at the end as it was at the beginning Oh and for some reason now Asher is having hallucinations of old friends who have died and speaks to them he doesn t seem to find this strange at all.Stylistically, I was really bothered by frequent switches between past and present tense narration Usually Potok at least waited until new vignettes to switch tense there aren t many chapters, but they are broken up into non numbered subsections delimited by a blank line , but sometimes he does it just between paragraphs, and once even within a paragraph Gah Also, Potok s sparse writing style was intermixed with a lot of attempts to describe random situations a Paris street, for example in literary detail It didn t work well.The bright spots were the wonderful bits of Jewish wisdom and theology that were discussed at a few points in the book, the new characters of Asher s young family, and a few times the talk about art had some good points But really, just stick with the first one and skip this sequel.


  10. says:

    Summary Asher Lev, exiled from a Brooklyn Hasidic community over a scandalous artwork portraying crucifixion, returns after twenty years with his family for the funeral of his uncle, only to find that he is being called upon to make a far greater sacrifice than the pain of exile.I first became acquainted with the work of Chaim Potok in the 1980 s His novels were set in the Ladover Hasidic Jwish community of New York One of these was My Name is Asher Lev and describes the awakening of a Jewish boy in this community to his artistic gifts, and the conflicts with his beliefs this raised, culminating in the scandal of painting a crucifixion scene set in Brooklyn as a portrayal of pain and suffering in the world For this he was exiled to France, where he pursues an increasingly successful art career while remaining an observant Ladover, heeding the teaching of its venerable Rebbe.Twenty years have passed He is married to Devorah, who after several miscarriages bore Rochelah and Avrumel They now live in Saint Paul, near Nice where he has his studio, and a few close friends On the heels of a show in Paris, scathingly panned by critics as repeating oneself, he receives news of the sudden death of his Uncle Yitzchok died the uncle who had encouraged his artistic career from buying his first drawing at age six onward He and his family return to Brooklyn for the funeral, and a reunion with parents and a community he hadn t seen in years.At the funeral, attended by thousands, because Yitzchok had been involved extensively in efforts to fund the Ladover movement, the Rebbe makes a cryptic remark, a kind of riddle, than runs through the book I say this as a message from the departed and from your Rebbe I say to you Three will save us The third is our future Do you hear me, my people Three will save us The third is our future On the minds of many is who will succeed the Rebbe if Messiah does not come first He has no children Asher s father Aryeh is the leading candidate But the third A week s stay extends to five months at the plea of parents who want to know their grandchildren, and a Rebbe, who takes an unusual interest in Asher, and his son Meanwhile, Asher s life becomes complicated when he learns not only that his uncle had assembled a valuable and unusual art collection, a scandal to his sons, and that he had designated Asher as trustee of the collection, with any proceeds from it to be returned to the Ladover community His cousins, especially Younkel fight this and there is a painful estrangement.While Asher contends with these matters and seeks inspiration for his art, his wife and children discover Brooklyn as a place where they thrive Devorah finds in her mother in law the mother she lost in the Holocaust Rochelah, a perceptive but asthmatic young girl flourishes at summer camp, as does Avrumel at day camp While Asher longs for a return to his work in Saint Paul, his family becomes and rooted in Brooklyn, and close to Asher s parents Aryeh and Avrumel spend time together around the Rebbe s office.While back in France to look after affairs, including help to the widow of an assistant who died in a bombing, Asher begins to understand the riddle and that his son is the third and that he is being asked even in a vision of the Rebbe and Uncle Yitzchok to offer his son Avrumel to succeed his father when the day came as Rebbe, and to be raised in the Brooklyn Yeshiva Brooklyn represents community to his family To him, it is a place, once exiled from, that is impossible to return to if he is to answer his artistic call To many in that community he is suspect, even a devil He is wracked with this dilemma, losing sleep but sketching furiously.Chaim Potok is one of a handful of writers I ve found who writes with what I would call a quiet voice Alan Paton is another There is a kind of stillness as if the writer is listening for how the story will unfold to relate it to us, a stillness with depth, where momentous things may occur in the quiet unfolding of the narrative.In this voice he explores the tensions of love and honor and estrangement in families, and in a religious community What does it mean to be faithful to one s gift as an artist when it causes so much pain in one s community What does it mean to observe a community s teaching and care for it when it is uncomfortable with you In a world of moral clarity, of black and white, how does one deal with life s messiness and ambiguities, from the horror of the Holocaust to the unsolvable conflict between the future foreseen for his son, his love for his wife and daughter, and one s own artistic calling.This work, published in 1990, was one I missed as I moved on to other writers I m thankful to have discovered it, and to be reminded of the richness of Potok s portrayal of this religious community and the challenges faced by the deeply orthodox of any faith in a secular society.


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