In 1967 Chaim Potok offered a novel that brilliantly displayed not only the battles of the inner soul, but also the battles that take place between people--both on a large and small scale. His novel explores the world of two Jewish American boys during WWII in New York. The two boys, Reuven and Danny, discover the nuances of their similar yet different lives in an ever fracturing world. This novel offers smart writing and captivating reflective prose. The book challenges you to examine your purpose to life as well as the way you judge and treat people.
Not only do you learn more about Judaism, but you also learn more about familial relationships and true friendship. I have included one of the most poignant quotes in the novel. This is towards the end of the novel and the speaker is Reuven's father. The quote theorizes a part of our existence, while proposing the idea that we must make the quality of our lives something great. We can effect change and bring about goodness by being willing to contribute--whether great or small.
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?" He paused again, his eyes misty now, then went on. "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 that span, he is something. He can fill that tiny span with meaning, so its quality is immeasurable though its quantity may be insignificant. Do you understand what I am saying? 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. Do you understand what I am saying?"
--Taken from Chapter 13