The film gives a glimpse of a strict and self-contained culture of Hasidic Judaism. The film pays much intention to the life of two boys who are both Jewish, yet totally distinct in their upbringings, mind and character. The film’s sympathy for its protagonists extends beyond the suffering of American Jewish after the Holocaust. The film also brings into light the Orthodox Jewish culture, lifestyle, traditions, and customs including arranged marriages, patriarchal family structures, separation of the sexes, and Talmudic studies.
The Story The Chosen” is about two Jewish families living in Brooklyn in the years following World War II. The film mainly focuses on the relationship between Danny, the son of a Hasidic rabbi, and Reuven, the son of a progressive Jewish intellectual. Although these boys are both Jewish, they differ greatly in upbringing and cultural background. The film gives an audience a visually detailed view of the life of Hasidic Jews, including how they dress and perform religious rituals. The Hasidic culture can be learnt through Danny and his reactions to the secular world.
The underlying cause of conflict which interferes the relationships between Danny and Reuven is their father’s subsequent ideological disagreement concerning the formation of the state of Israel. Main Characters Reuven, popular in his community, is a smart modern orthodox Jew whose mother died during the early years of the Holocaust in Nazi Germany. Reuven is free to take any path he chooses in life and he chooses to become a rabbi. Reuven’s widowed father is a Talmudic scholar, a college professor, who teaches and writes about contemporary Jewish affairs.
He practices Zionist and supports the establishment of a Jewish homeland in the hopes that he and his only son will return to someday to live for good and be free from worldwide persecution. Danny is a Hasidic Jew and the first-born son of Rabbi. Danny is highly intelligent with a photographic memory and has a strong interest in psychology. Danny’s father is a Jewish spiritual leader who studies the Talmud and structures his life around Jewish laws and customs. Danny is pressured to be a rabbi following six generations of a rabbinic dynasty but he chooses to become secular and to study psychology. The Plot
Reuven and Danny meet for the first time as rivals in a softball game. As the competition heats up, Danny hits the ball directly at Reuven’s eyes causing him to be temporarily blinded and hospitalized. Later, the two boys establish a friendship that bridges the differences in their upbringings. As their friendship develops, Reuven discovered the fact that Danny was raised in silence, except when discussing the Talmud, and the secret that Danny is reading library books without his dad knowing. While Reuven’s father is away for a time, Reuven goes to live with Danny’s family where he finds out more shocking facts about the Hassidic culture.
Their relationship comes under great strain when their fathers take opposing positions in the intra-Jewish debate over whether to establish a secular Jewish state in Palestine. Rabbi prohibits his son Danny from speaking to or spending time with Reuven. Danny is allowed to re-establish his friendship with Reuven when the United Nations announces the recognition of the Jewish State. Later on, the two boys resume their friendship and Rabbi calls the two boys into his room and tells them that he raised Danny in silence so that his brilliance would not lead to arrogance, but compassion for the world through suffering the silence.
The film ended happily because the father-son relationship between Danny and his dad is restored and Danny goes on to study psychology at Columbia University, while Reuven leaves for Israel. The Sociological Dynamics From a micro perspectives in sociology, there is clearly a problem in the father-son relationship. Both Danny and Reuven were raised blindly to follow rules of traditions and religions. Although Reuven’s father is spiritual, open-minded, and keeps a very open talk with Reuven, he nearly works himself to death because of a fanatical obsession with Zionism.
On the other hand, Danny’s father is close-minded and treats Danny with silence unless they are discussing the Talmud together. Danny’s father is obsessive about traditions, rituals, and customs of Hasidic. Both parents are obsessed with religion to the point where friendships of their son have to be separated merely because of differing political and religious beliefs. The two fathers interpret Judaism in contrasting ways which leads them to teach and relate to their son differently. The Hassidic Jews also practice arranged marriages. The Chosen depicts romantic interest very differently.
For example, in one scene, where everyone is celebrating the end of World War II, Danny got kissed by a girl, but resists and wipes it off afterward. Danny’s lack of interest in anything romantic can be explained by Hasidic marriage customs, in which boys and girls are matched early in life and have no choice about whom they marry. But Reuven, a Modern Orthodox Jew, demonstrates an interest in the opposite sex. In one of the scenes, at a boy-girl party at Reuven home, he takes a girl’s hand, led her out into the hallway, and kisses her.
And yet another scene details a Hasidic wedding. By custom, a partition separates the males from the females, and they do not dance together. Reuven dares to go past the partition, catches Danny’s sister’s eye, and smiles at her. But unluckily, Reuven is kept from having a relationship with Danny’s sister because she has already been engaged from a young age. There are also another sociological problems such as the humiliation that Jews places on the other. This can be seen at the beginning and throughout the movie.
The Orthodox Jews think of Hassidic Jews as out-of-date, strange, and heartless. Reuven’s friends even make fun of him for his relationship with Danny. The Hasidim differ from other Orthodox Jews in several ways. For this reason, they are separated by differences. Personal Impact From watching this movie, I have learned the importance of showing other people respect even to those who might be from a radically different background. Having the capacity to love people, to respect them deeply, to live authentic relationships with others are qualities that set one apart from the rest.
Romans 12:9-10 (NET) says, “Love must be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil, cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another with mutual love, showing eagerness in honoring one another. ” The first and foremost priority in our lives should be obedience to the Lord. I also learned gratitude and humility. Being humble is realizing that you did not get where you are by anything you have done, but by the grace and power of Jesus Christ. Proverbs 11:2 (NIV) says, “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom. ”