Chaim Potok

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Chaim Potok in 1976

Chaim Potok (17 February 1929 - 23 July 2002) was an American author and rabbi.


  • Human beings do not live forever, Reuven. We live less than the time it takes to blink an eye, if we measure our lives against eternity. So it may be asked what value is there to a human life. There is so much pain in the world. What does it mean to have to suffer so much, if our lives are nothing more than the blink of an eye?...I learned a long time ago, Reuven, that a blink of an eye in itself is nothing; but the eye that blinks, that is something. A span of life is nothing; but the man who lives the span, he is something. He can fill that tiny span with meaning, so its quality is immeasurable though its quantity may be insignificant. A man must fill his life with meaning, meaning is not automatically given to life. It is hard work to fill one's life with meaning- that, I do not think you understand yet. A life filled with meaning is worthy of rest. I want to be worthy of rest when I am no longer here.
    • David Malter to his son, Reuven (p. 217)
  • I went away and cried to the Master of the Universe, "What have you done to me? A mind like this I need for a son? A heart I need for a son, a soul I need for a son, compassion I want from my son, righteousness, mercy, strength to suffer and carry pain, that I want from my son, not a mind without a soul!"
    • Reb Saunders to Reuven Malter (p. 264)
  • Reuven, as you grow older you will discover that the most important things that will happen to you will often come as a result of silly things, as you call them— "ordinary things" is a better expression. That is the way the world is.
    • David Malter to Reuven Malter (p. 110)
  • You can listen to silence, Reuven. I've begun to realize that you can listen to silence and learn from it. It has a quality and dimension all its own.
    • Danny Saunders to Reuven Malter
  • I don't understand why I wanted to kill you.
    • Danny Saunders to Reuven Malter
  • It is never pleasant to be a buffer, Reuven.
    • David Malter to Reuven Malter
  • It was senseless, as— I held my breath, feeling myself shiver with fear— as Billy's blindness was senseless.
    • Reuven Malter when thinking about the death of Pres. Roosevelt
  • [Danny] laughed once and said, 'That man is such an ignoramus, Father.' I was angry. 'Look into his soul,' I said. 'Stand inside his soul and see the world through his eyes. You will know the pain he feels because of his ignorance, and you will not laugh.' He was bewildered and hurt. The nightmares he began to have. . . . But he learned to find answers for himself. He suffered and learned to listen to the suffering of others. In the silence between us, he began to hear the world crying."
    • Reb Saunders to Reuven Malter when talking about when Daniel was younger (p. 286)
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