My name is asher lev
By chaim potok
A Book Review and Reflection Paper
It is undoubtedly true that people have their own dreams, their own aspirations in life, and their own inspirations for living their lives. Likely, it is because of this fact that people are able to struggle for being the right kind of person that they know they ought to become. However, with the many elements making up human life, it is not that easy to handle life as it is. It could be observed that there are choices to pick, reasons to understand and people to please. In the written work of Chaim Potok, Asher Lev is a young aspiring artist who is also a Jew needing to adjust into a life that his parents needs him to trod.
In this particular reading, Potok aims to show how life could be a bit tiring to deal with especially if one tries to live for a dream and life for the norms of being who they are. As a Jew, Ashley did have certain responsibilities to the church and to his family. As an artist, he also have had some desirable experiences to handle as an artist. He knows he is most happy when he does what he wants, and that is being an artist, and yet he also knows how he should comply to the things that he is supposed to do as a Jew.
In this material, it could be observed how Potok naturally described the feeling of a person who is torn between a responsibility and an aspiration. Through this implicative reading material, it could be noted that there is a huge matter of consideration that must be placed on choices and goals of a person. Of course, the said reading material is based on a Jewish boy’s life experience. Even so, it could still be seen as a primary depiction on how a person, Jewish or not, becomes directly involved in certain decisions in life that he must make based on his own wants and the things that he is rather expected to complete.
Reading Reflection: On Goals and Choices
Goals and choices are inevitable parts of human living. In the story of Asher Lev, it could be noted that choices and goals in his life were the very once that characterized his life, both as a Jew and as an artist. Understandably it could be observed that these elements have naturally made his personality rather much capable of handling the different pressures and challenges that he needed to deal with in his daily dealings with the life that he has been born to. Although his likes and his dreams are likely different from the responsibilities that are most expected of him, he still struggled to be the best in both sides of the situations. Understandably, with the measure of this particular concentration on the capability Asher Lev to accomplish everything being asked of him and completing all the things that he wanted to achieve for his own satisfaction as an artist. Still, although he had been faring well with this matter so far, there is no denial to the fact that he still needs to make some amendments, a certain decision that shall place his aspirations into proper place and his works into a certain path that would lead him to better understand his capabilities as a human individual. How should he decide on this matter?
The Importance of Making the Right Decision
Yes, if one has a hard time making the right decisions and choose to remain in a situation that might be resulting to the compromise that they would rather be involved into, one need to find the right position to make the agony over confused decisions to end. Another help to budge a balking brain is to learn to think in a systematic way. This calls for trying to see every side of a matter. To learn how to do this, some have suggested approaching problems as though playing the game “Twenty Questions.” In this game a group or panel is given twenty chances to ferret out a subject on the moderator’s mind. The idea is to eliminate as many probabilities as possible with each question, progressively narrowing the field to a logical answer.
The game embodies a model of productive thinking, actually the principles of scientific research, namely, running through a list of questions to eliminate probabilities until one can single out an answer. This process of ordered thinking can be illustrated with a family who, having decided to move to another location, set down a list of requirements with regard to a new home they must find: For example: (1) Do we want a house or an apartment? (2) A new one or an older one? (3) One or two stories? (4) Price not over what fixed amount? (5) In city or suburb? (6) Maximum distance from employment? (7) From schools? (8) From shopping facilities and other conveniences, and so forth?
Until the habit of approaching all problems systematically becomes ingrained in you, do not be embarrassed about employing a written checklist similar to this. Of course, such thinking can be learned by using it in connection with all your daily tasks, not just the major moves in life.
For instance, are you a thinking housewife? Instead of secretly envying so-called “talented” women, why not use the same thinking processes they must employ in order to do their work? Samm S. Baker in his book Your Key to Creative Thinking (1962) shows ways of doing this:
“A leading professor of psychology stated, ‘The capacity to create . . . is not limited to the highly gifted person, but is the birthright of every person of average talent.’ . . . If you’re a housewife, there are many creative challenges all about you, waiting to be solved for the convenience and enjoyment of your family. Consider something as simple as a clothes closet. You can permit a messy situation to develop, as in so many homes . . . Or, you can plan creatively so that everything has a clean, orderly place in the closet, saving time and temper for everyone in the family, and winning praise for yourself.”—Pages 1, 17.
The same can be said for your cooking. One noted psychologist said: “To originate a first-rate soup is more creative than daubing a second-rate painting.” Or, as a parent contemplating a vacation for your family, do you really stop to think the trip through? Do you consider all the possible problems that might arise as to your automobile? Clothing for a different climate? Entertainment for the children while you are driving, and so on? Or, do you have difficulty in getting along with certain people? Have you thought about what definite steps to take that may possibly resolve the situation? In every area of life, systematically thinking through whatever confronts you, consistent with your goals in life, is of immeasurable value in jarring a complacent brain.
Another aid to stir hesitant thinking is to remember that problems just do not “go away” as a result of putting them off or refusing to make a decision. Not making any decision at all, in effect, is itself to make a decision. Many persons who balk when faced with decisions, find that later on they are more difficult to make. Why do many have that tendency?
Some fear imagined consequences. Others recall past decisions, and, regretting the way things turned out, hesitate to make new ones. But suppose they had decided another way on those past decisions—who can really say things would have worked out much better?
On the other hand, possibly you have made wrong decisions in the past. Should pride now stymie you from making future ones? No less a thinker than Albert Einstein said regarding his own conclusions from study: “I think and think, for months, for years, ninety-nine times the conclusion is false. The hundredth I am right.” Fortunately, in personal decisions the average is often much higher than that.
However, as an aid in making proper and prompt decisions, ask yourself, ‘Am I willing to consider other people’s views, especially if they are in any way involved in the decision?’ A wise supervisor or family head appreciates that he is not the only one who knows how to think. Yes, even on the family level, each member may have something to contribute. Rudolph Flesch notes:
“If you want to pool quickly the viewpoints of various ages and sexes, stay right at home. The basis of clear thinking . . . is the realization that we think with our experience. The family . . . is the place to learn this once and for all. . . . Family team-work in thinking is common when it comes to big decisions like buying a new house. This is where husbands, wives and older children get together discussing the problem, weighing the pros and cons of possible solutions, planning with pencil and paper, and surveying the available factual information.”—The Art of Clear Thinking (1951), pages 160, 163.
Another source of information based on experience is reading material. Here one can benefit from the experience of the author, perhaps a person who has spent years in the field covered by his book or article. Nevertheless, if you read to get information before making a decision, be selective. Often only a small part of all that is published on a given subject is of real value to you. Keep clearly in mind the kind of information you want. Avoid tangents. In other words, rather than “speed reading” learn “speed thinking,” keeping your mind on your purpose. Once you have a reasonable amount of facts gathered from reading and from discussion, and time has been spent on meditation, then make your decision.
Yes, it could be noted that through life, people have to make decisions as to which particular elements of living should be given careful attention, from the simplest to the most complicated situations, one must be able to contemplate the right kind of decision that he needs to be able to face the different challenges that comes along in his life every day. Considerably, the story of Asher Lev shows an idea that decisions are supposed to be based on the goals that a person is most considerably interested in to pursue in life. The path that might be taken by one may not be that easy to trod, however with the right motivation and the right vision of the future like that of the character in the movie “pianist”(2002), life decisions that are taken into great seriousness and careful assessment on the part of the ones involved, a particular decision shall indeed make a great change on the ways by which one lives his life.
Roman Polanski. Pianinst. (2002).
Chaim Potok. (2003).My Name is Asher Lev. Anchor Publishing.