The Chosen, by Chaim Potok, for JennyAnyDots

And so Reb Saunders reveals his plan was not merely to train Danny to take his inherited position, but rather to pass along the tradition of the tzaddik so that if Danny chose to reject the old world, he would be prepared to enter the new one with a compassionate soul, not merely with a brilliant uncaring intellect. “‘One learns the pain of others by suffering one’s own pain,'” Reb Saunders explains, “‘By turning oneself inside out…by finding one’s own soul. And it is important to know of pain…It destroys our self pride, our arrogance, our indifference towards others. And of all people a tzaddik especially must know of pain. A tzaddik must know how to suffer for his people. He must take the pain from them and carry it on his own shoulders.'” It is for this end that Danny has been raised “in silence”. And although Danny has decided to reject many aspects of his upbringing, he tells the Malters that he is prepared to raise his own son in silence,”‘If I cannot find another way.'” A Random House Study Guide

Things to think about: What is a tzaddik? Why does Danny think that it is important to raise a child who can be a tzaddik? Was Danny’s father successful in raising Danny to be compassionate?

An interview with Chaim Potok

Another blogger shares his thoughts on The Chosen

Another interview with Chaim Potok

A quote from Danny’s father:
” A man is born into this world with only a tiny spark of godness in him. The spark is God, it is the soul; the rest is ugliness and evil, a shell. The spark must be guarded like a treasure, it must be nurtured, it must be fanned into flame. It must learn to seek out other sparks, it must dominate the shell. Anything can be a shell, Reuven. Anything. Indifference, laziness, brutality, and genius. Yes, even a great mind can be a shell and choke the spark.

More Ideas to think about:
What has Danny learned from suffering?
Do you think he would have learned it any other way?
Read the book of Isaiah, chapters 52 and 53 and think about the Suffering Savior you see there. Is there any connection between the ideas in Isaiah and the ideas in The Chosen?
Why did Potok choose the title he did?

See here for further discussion of the Suffering Savior concept.

And also here

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Responses

News and Commentary for the Common Room Students

The Deputy Headmistress has combed the blogs and the news searching for articles that will not bring a blush to maiden cheeks, yet are newsworthy, interesting, and offer ideas to think about. Here are today’s results:

Read the article “Many Partings” from the Belmont Club

Have you been following the Syria/Lebanon stories in the news? The above hyperlink takes you to a note on an interesting development.

Do you think it’s acceptable to make accusations against people without proof? Read this story and think about how the Golden Rule might be applied.

HEre’s an exciting blogger development; Tim Worstall has a round-up of Brit-Bloggers. Not all the entries are worthy reading for Common-Room students, but there are some of special interest.

You can just read the links I’ve chosen below, or you can read Tim Worstall’s page (although some entries will bring a blush to the maidenly cheek).

Some Deputy Headmistress favorites:

Liberal England’s Listen with Gladstone

The Head Girl will almost certainly want to look at the Anglo Saxon Chronicle’s take on the EU treaty.

We the Undersigned has an interesting article on the Kyoto Treaty

Paul Johnson, author of the some of the history books Common Room students have read or will be reading for school, has a very good essay online.
Hat-tip Roger Simon.

On this President’s Day, our President is traveling in Europe, where he has had some pointed things to say.

Here are further excerpts from a speech he gave in Brussels.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Twelfth Night

I happen to love “Twelfth Night” very much. Its wit and sweetness combine to make for a tour de force of magnificence.
Most likely my favorite scene is when Viola/Cesario tells Orsino exactly why women can love as deeply as men, and that it is not only Orsino’s passions that count.
After he rails at her about how fickle women are, Viola ventures to tell him where he gets off… only it doesn’t go as she plans.
Viola: “Ay, but I know —“
Orsino: “What dost thou know?” (can you not sense the torn thought processes of Viola and Orsino’s impatience?)
Viola: “Too well what love women to men may owe
In faith, they are as true of heart as we.
My father had a daughter loved a man,
As it might be, perhaps, were I a woman,
I should your lordship.
Orsino is interested. He never gets to hear much background on his young servant, and perhaps he’s ready for a distraction of sorts after his tormented outburst. “And what’s her history,” he enquires, one imagines, in a desultory sort of way.
And this is where it gets really good. Viola begins to tell him “her sister’s” history:

“A blank, my lord. She never told her love,
But let concealment, like a worm i’ the bud,
Feed on her damask cheek: she pined in thought,
And with a green and yellow melancholy
She sat like patience on a monument,
Smiling at grief. Was not this love indeed?
We men may say more, swear more: but indeed
Our shows are more than will; for still we prove
Much in our vows, but little in our love.”

It is here that the listener/reader/viewer can sense Viola’s growing knowledge of the hard and cold fact that she is talking about herself. Yes, she was doing that earlier, but these lines have more potency than before. “…concealment, like a worm i’ the bud, feed on her damask cheek: she pined in thought.” Viola is living in a concealment, a devouring concealment. Is this what she imagined when she set out to conceal her nature and act like a man? Surely not, but she can now see all the ramifications of this behavior… and they’re not pretty.
Orsino is interested in her story, however:
“But died they sister of her love, my boy?”
Viola reveals the crux of the story:
“I am all the daughters of my father’s house,
And all the brothers too: and yet I know not.”

Here in the tale things could change to tragedy very quickly. Viola’s fate is no longer in her hands. She has chosen concealment, it is feeding upon her, and all she can do is sit smiling at grief (what else is left to her?), “like patience on a monument.” Patience for time to unravel the mess that has been made, and patience for time to tell whether any part of her will die in the process.

Well, now that I’ve thoroughly depressed myself I must be reminded that time mends all in this story. Viola and her brother are reunited (this excites me more than Orsino discovering Viola’s love :-), Viola’s concealment is no more. She does not die of her love… <- That is a much, much better ending than the one found in, say, "Romeo & Juliet."

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Twelfth Night

We watched Kenneth Brannagh’s Twelfth Night Saturday night (thanks to Mama Squirrel at for recommending it).

It was a slower in pace than the Trevor Nunn adaptation, and all the action takes place outside, which was odd. But there were some things we liked better. The slower pace made it easier for our young people to follow.

Here’s a line that is funnier when you know what it means:

Sir Toby asks Andrew Aguecheek:
“…why dost thou not go to church in a galliard, and come home in a coranto? My very walk should be a jig. What dost thou mean? is it a world to hide virtues in? I did think, by the excellent constitution of thy leg, it was form’d under the star of a galliard…”

Galliard and Coranto are both dances. Here’s a link for the galliard:

AFter you’re done thinking about walking to church doing the Charleston or some such thing, here’s a line that’s funnier because we don’t really know what it means:

Feste: I did impeticos thy gratillity; for Malvolio’s nose is no whipstock…

One of the funniest lines:
Fabian: If this were played upon a stage now, I could
condemn it as an improbable fiction.

Phrases I shall encourage the offspring to use in replace of some current popular terms:

Beshrew me! for ‘We’re rocking’

Misprision in the highest degree! for ‘I didn’t do it!’

Good swabber for ‘dude’

Most radiant, exquisite and unmatchable beauty- for ‘Muvver’ a title young Whats-it uses when he’s trying to wheedle

But that’s all one, our play is done,
And we’ll strive to please you every day.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Responses


When Whose-its was, oh, about 19 months old, I heard her call out “Mother,” so I, oddly enough, said, “What?”

She said she wasn’t talking to me, she was talking to her sister Jennyanydots, who was being the mother.

Then she came over, patted my arm reassuringly, and said gently, “That’s just
‘tending. JennyAnyDots just my mother for ‘tend. I still gonna let you be the real
mother, okay?”

So now when she is objecting to some parental edict I have made and chafing against the fact that I _am_ the mother, I can always remind her that made the decision to ‘let’ me be the mother before she was two.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

  • The Common Room on Facebook

  • Amazon: Buy our Kindle Books

  • Search Amazon

    Try Audible and Get Two Free Audiobooks

  • Brainy Fridays Recommends: