Is Leo Finkle truly Jewish by Malamud's definition?

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linda-allen eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Leo does the things a good Jew is supposed to do. He attends a yeshiva, or religious school. He's planning to become a rabbi, or religious teacher. He has even hired a matchmaker to find him a suitable Jewish wife.

When Lily Hirschorn asks him questions about when he realized he wanted to become a rabbi and when he knew he loved God, however, Leo doesn't feel like a very good Jew. He tells her:

    "I am not," he said gravely, "a talented religious person." and in seeking words to go on, found himself possessed by shame and fear. "I think," he said in a strained manner, "that I came to God not because I love Him, but because I did not."

If that were the end of the story, we'd have to agree with Leo and say that he is not a "real" Jew. However, later in the story, Leo justifies himself with the thought "he was a Jew and that a Jew suffered." Considering the bad luck Leo has with women, he seems to fit the definition just fine.

marlenisworking | Student

Yes, Leo is atruly Jewish experiencig a typical dilemma in the story because he comes to question himself about his real faith in God. However, he finds himself cold and lonely of the love for people. He was alwyas aorund books and in an inner intelectual world that did not let him to really experience the social world of the Jewish in the time the story took place in 1959.Malamud portraits Leo as the real Jewish questioning Judaism in himself, however what is truly Jewish anyways?

Kindly, Marlen Arguedas Piedra- 

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The Magic Barrel

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