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Reuven Malter is first of all an (1) Orthodox Jewish boy and the son of an Orthodox Jewish Talmud scholar. The Talmud is called "the supreme source book" of Jewish religious law. It is a compilation of writings about how many rabbis over many generations have explained how the Law of the Torah (Scripture) are to be worked out in practice. As the son of an Orthodox Talmud scholar, Reuven is (2) taught the Talmud as well as the Torah but he is also (3) taught important secular subjects including philosophy, logic and mathematics. His studies develop in him that which his father desires, (4) a broad mind with a depth of knowledge in many disciplines. Along with this, (5) he is a baseball player. It is through sport that an (6) inner character weakness of anger and bitterness is revealed in Reuven when Danny Saunders goes to the hospital to apologize for injuring Reuven's eye in a baseball game. To his father's surprise, (7) Reuven chooses an Orthodox rabbinical calling--to be a rabbi--over a scholarly calling.
Danny Saunders is first of all a (1) Hasidic Jewish boy and the son of the Hasidic rebbe Reb Saunders, in whose footsteps Hasidic tradition dictates that Danny will follow as the next Reb Saunders and leader of their Hasidic congregation. Hasidism was founded in the 1700s and de-emphasized intellectualization of Torah study while emphasizing the deep, inner mystical meaning of Torah. It remains distinctive for these qualities among others even today, though its initial enthusiasms are tempered. While (2) Danny desires to follow his father as the Rebbe, or "tzaddik," his (3) friendship with Reuven and Reuven's father, Mr. Malter, leads him along the (4) path of scholarly exploration. Along with this, (5) Danny is also a baseball player. It is through sport that Danny's (6) inner character traits of compassion, regret and humility become apparent when he goes to the hospital to apologize to Reuven, whose eye he has injured in a baseball game. Danny is first rejected by an angry Reuven, but Mr. Malter reprimands Reuven and thus begins the friendship between Danny and Reuven and the intersection of two very distinct Jewish worlds. (7) Danny surprises his Rebbe father by choosing to become a psychoanalyst.
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