The Chosen

Reb Isaac Saunders Character Analysis

The religious leader, or tzaddic, of his Hasidic community in Williamsburg, Reb Saunders feels a great weight on his shoulders for the entirety of the novel. He is a very strict Hasid, who puts great faith in the value of his culture and traditions. He brings up his son, Danny, in a very strict and traditional manner as well, which involves almost absolute silence. He only speaks to his son when they are studying the Talmud. Reb Saunders has had a very difficult life. He is from Russia and was there during the anti-Semitic Cossack raids during which his first wife and child were killed in front of his eyes. After this he took his entire Jewish community through Europe to America to start a new life. As a leader of his community he believes that he has to take on the suffering of his followers. When the Holocaust happens this becomes an even greater burden.

Reb Isaac Saunders Quotes in The Chosen

The The Chosen quotes below are all either spoken by Reb Isaac Saunders or refer to Reb Isaac Saunders. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Judaism and Tradition Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Fawcett edition of The Chosen published in 1987.
Chapter 6 Quotes

“Reb Saunders’ son is a terribly torn and lonely boy. There is literally no one in the world he can talk to. He needs a friend. The accident with the baseball has bound him to you, and he has already sensed in you someone he can talk to without fear.”

Related Characters: David Malter (speaker), Reuven Malter, Danny Saunders, Reb Isaac Saunders
Page Number: 110
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit an

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Unlock explanations and citation info for this and every other The Chosen quote.

Plus so much more...

Get LitCharts A+
Already a LitCharts A+ member? Sign in!
Chapter 7 Quotes

I didn’t agree at all with his notions of the world as being contaminated. Albert Einstein is part of the world, I told myself. President Roosevelt is part of the world. The millions of soldiers fighting Hitler are part of the world.

Related Characters: Reuven Malter (speaker), Reb Isaac Saunders
Page Number: 135
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea comm

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

“You think a friend is an easy thing to be? If you are truly his friend, you will discover otherwise.”

Related Characters: Reb Isaac Saunders (speaker), Reuven Malter, Danny Saunders
Page Number: 142
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt moLoremLorem ipsum dolo

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit Lorem ipsumLorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, qu

Chapter 8 Quotes

“Master of the Universe,” he almost chanted. “you gave me a brilliant son, and I have thanked you for him a million times. But you had to make him so brilliant?

Related Characters: Reb Isaac Saunders (speaker), Danny Saunders, Reb Isaac Saunders
Page Number: 167
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaec

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id estLoremLorem ipsum dolor sit amet

Chapter 11 Quotes

“The world kills us,” he said quietly.” Ah, how the world kills us.” … “The world drinks our blood,” Reb Saunders said. “How the world makes us suffer. It is the will of God. We must accept the will of God.”

Related Characters: Reb Isaac Saunders (speaker)
Page Number: 190
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Chapter 13 Quotes

Poor Danny, I thought. Professor Appleman, with his experimental psychology, is torturing your mind. And your father, with his bizarre silence – which I still couldn’t understand, no matter how often I thought about it – is torturing your soul.”

Related Characters: Reuven Malter (speaker), Danny Saunders, Reb Isaac Saunders, Professor Nathan Appleman
Related Symbols: Silence
Page Number: 222
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Lorem ipsuLorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor i

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteu

Chapter 18 Quotes

“… words are cruel, words play tricks, they distort what is in the heart, they conceal the heart, the heart speaks through silence. One learns of the pain of others by suffering one’s own pain, he would say, by turning inside oneself, by finding one’s soul.”

Related Characters: Reb Isaac Saunders (speaker)
Page Number: 284
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequ

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehendLorLorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua.

Get the entire The Chosen LitChart as a printable PDF.
The chosen.pdf.medium

Reb Isaac Saunders Character Timeline in The Chosen

The timeline below shows where the character Reb Isaac Saunders appears in The Chosen. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
Fathers, Sons, and Rebellion Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
...murders, and Davey tells him to just wait for the boy practicing batting: Danny Saunders, Reb Saunders’ s son. (full context)
Chapter 2
Fathers, Sons, and Rebellion Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
...could grow over his eye and leave him partially blind. Mr. Malter also says that Reb Saunders called him to ask how Reuven was, and that Danny is very sorry for what... (full context)
Chapter 3
Judaism and Tradition Theme Icon
Choosing and Being Chosen Theme Icon
Fathers, Sons, and Rebellion Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
...Danny and they discuss how Danny’s team was formed. Danny had to convince his father, Reb Saunders , to allow a sports team by saying that it was their duty to beat... (full context)
Chapter 6
Judaism and Tradition Theme Icon
Choosing and Being Chosen Theme Icon
Fathers, Sons, and Rebellion Theme Icon
...they hold the same customs and beliefs, they are not allowed to read secular literature. Reb Saunders is a great tzaddic and Talmudist and when he dies the position will go on... (full context)
Chapter 7
Judaism and Tradition Theme Icon
Fathers, Sons, and Rebellion Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
Reb Saunders walks in and everyone stops speaking. Danny’s brother, a young, pale boy, holds on to... (full context)
Judaism and Tradition Theme Icon
Fathers, Sons, and Rebellion Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
World War II and War Theme Icon
The room fills with more men and they all begin to eat a meal. Reb Saunders stares at Reuven and Danny eats in complete silence. Someone begins to sing a prayer... (full context)
Judaism and Tradition Theme Icon
Fathers, Sons, and Rebellion Theme Icon
World War II and War Theme Icon
Reb Saunders begins to speak in a chanting voice, swaying back and fort as everyone leans forward... (full context)
Judaism and Tradition Theme Icon
Fathers, Sons, and Rebellion Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
Reb Saunders finishes and everyone stares at Danny. Reb Saunders asks Danny if he heard any mistakes.... (full context)
Fathers, Sons, and Rebellion Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
Reb Saunders speaks with Reuven and tells him that Mr. Malter is a great scholar. He tells... (full context)
Judaism and Tradition Theme Icon
Choosing and Being Chosen Theme Icon
Fathers, Sons, and Rebellion Theme Icon
Danny and Reuven walk home together and talk about the test. Danny says that Reb Saunders’ followers love it. Reuven and Danny are happy to realize that they plan to attend... (full context)
Chapter 8
Fathers, Sons, and Rebellion Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
Mr. Malter feels guilty that he has been telling Danny what to read behind Reb Saunders’ s back. But he believes that Danny would have continued to read on his own... (full context)
Judaism and Tradition Theme Icon
Choosing and Being Chosen Theme Icon
Fathers, Sons, and Rebellion Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
Reuven goes over to Danny’s house of Shabbat to study the Talmud with Reb Saunders . Reuven meets Danny’s kind mother and his pretty sister. Reb Saunders tells Reuven that... (full context)
Fathers, Sons, and Rebellion Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
The argument comes to an end and Reb Saunders sends Danny to get some tea. Reb Saunders tells Reuven that he has “a good... (full context)
Chapter 10
Judaism and Tradition Theme Icon
Fathers, Sons, and Rebellion Theme Icon
...over to the Saunders every Shabbat to discuss the Talmud with Danny and his father. Reb Saunders doesn’t talk about Danny’s secular reading anymore but he is clearly bothered by it. (full context)
Chapter 11
Fathers, Sons, and Rebellion Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
World War II and War Theme Icon
...he has missed so much school that he has no time to see Danny. Then Reb Saunders and Mr. Malter become ill. (full context)
Judaism and Tradition Theme Icon
Choosing and Being Chosen Theme Icon
Fathers, Sons, and Rebellion Theme Icon
World War II and War Theme Icon
Reuven goes to Danny’s for Shabbat and Reb Saunders does not make them study Talmud. Instead they discuss the Holocaust and Reb Saunders’s youth... (full context)
Judaism and Tradition Theme Icon
Fathers, Sons, and Rebellion Theme Icon
World War II and War Theme Icon
Reuven tells his father that Reb Saunders believes the Holocaust is ultimately God’s will. Mr. Malter disagrees and says that they cannot... (full context)
Fathers, Sons, and Rebellion Theme Icon
World War II and War Theme Icon
...Reuven is in a “blind panic.” Manya takes care of him at first but then Reb Saunders offers to take Reuven in. Reuven moves in to Danny’s room. (full context)
Chapter 12
Judaism and Tradition Theme Icon
Fathers, Sons, and Rebellion Theme Icon
World War II and War Theme Icon
Danny and Reuven argue over the Talmud when Reb Saunders is free but he is almost never free because people are always coming to see... (full context)
Judaism and Tradition Theme Icon
Fathers, Sons, and Rebellion Theme Icon
World War II and War Theme Icon
Reuven mentions the idea of a Jewish homeland in Palestine (also known as Zionism) to Reb Saunders , not mentioning that his father supports it. Reb Saunders explodes with anger and says... (full context)
Judaism and Tradition Theme Icon
Fathers, Sons, and Rebellion Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
Reuven is shocked by Reb Saunders’ s rage. Reb Saunders keeps repeating, “should we just forget the Messiah?” He says true... (full context)
Judaism and Tradition Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
World War II and War Theme Icon
...father believes in, and that Reuven should never mention it again. Danny says that if Reb Saunders knew that Reuven’s father believed in Zionism he would kick Reuven out of the house. (full context)
Chapter 13
Judaism and Tradition Theme Icon
Choosing and Being Chosen Theme Icon
Fathers, Sons, and Rebellion Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
...all of the Hasidic students avoid all contact with him. He is angry with “ Reb Saunders’ blindness” and frustrated “at Danny’s helplessness.” Reuven talks to his father about this and his... (full context)
Judaism and Tradition Theme Icon
Fathers, Sons, and Rebellion Theme Icon
Reuven calls Reb Saunders a fanatic and Mr. Malter responds that “the fanaticism of men like Reb Saunders has... (full context)
Chapter 14
Judaism and Tradition Theme Icon
World War II and War Theme Icon
...much that it starts to affect his grades. He feels a “blind, raging fury” towards Reb Saunders . Reb Saunders starts staging anti-Zionist rallies, which are not successful. School becomes increasingly tense,... (full context)
Judaism and Tradition Theme Icon
Choosing and Being Chosen Theme Icon
World War II and War Theme Icon
...involved in Zionist activities and Reuven rarely sees his father. Reuven thinks about Danny and Reb Saunders constantly and cannot understand how Danny can respect him. (full context)
Fathers, Sons, and Rebellion Theme Icon
World War II and War Theme Icon
...cry with joy. The next day the school is still filled with the leaflets of Reb Saunders’ anti-Zionist league. Reuven is so angry that he wants to punch one of them, but... (full context)
Chapter 15
Judaism and Tradition Theme Icon
World War II and War Theme Icon
...the violence seem very close to home. There is a memorial service at school, and Reb Saunders’ anti-Zionist league dies on that day. (full context)
Chapter 16
Fathers, Sons, and Rebellion Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
...talk about the silence they both had to endure. But the conversation quickly turns to Reb Saunders’ silence towards his son. Reuven now hates Reb Saunders and has no sympathy for his... (full context)
Judaism and Tradition Theme Icon
Choosing and Being Chosen Theme Icon
...Danny’s sister’s wedding and he is the only person there who is not a Hasid. Reb Saunders has aged a lot since he last saw him. Reuven does not like the man... (full context)
Judaism and Tradition Theme Icon
Choosing and Being Chosen Theme Icon
Fathers, Sons, and Rebellion Theme Icon
Reuven goes over to see Reb Saunders at the end of the school year. As they are walking up to his study,... (full context)
Chapter 17
Judaism and Tradition Theme Icon
Fathers, Sons, and Rebellion Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
...to speak to Danny about how he will break the news of his plan to Reb Saunders . Reuven then asks his father about Reb Saunders’ silence and Mr. Malter mutters angrily,... (full context)
Judaism and Tradition Theme Icon
Fathers, Sons, and Rebellion Theme Icon
Danny gets in to all three universities. Reb Saunders must have seen the letters because he picks up the mail, but he did not... (full context)
Choosing and Being Chosen Theme Icon
Fathers, Sons, and Rebellion Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
...that he will go to Columbia and thinks he might live at his sister’s house. Reb Saunders continue to ask Reuven to come over and Reuven says he will try, but does... (full context)
Fathers, Sons, and Rebellion Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
...has buried himself in his work to keep his anxiety over his father at bay. Reb Saunders asks Reuven (through Danny) to come over on the first or second day of Passover.... (full context)
Fathers, Sons, and Rebellion Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
Reuven tells his father that Reb Saunders just wanted to study Talmud, and Mr. Malter says that Reuven has not been listening.... (full context)
Chapter 18
Judaism and Tradition Theme Icon
Choosing and Being Chosen Theme Icon
Reuven comes to Danny’s house to see Reb Saunders . He first sees Danny, who looks very nervous, and then they both go to... (full context)
Judaism and Tradition Theme Icon
Fathers, Sons, and Rebellion Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
Reb Saunders asks Reuven what he will do after graduation and Reuven says that he plans to... (full context)
Judaism and Tradition Theme Icon
Fathers, Sons, and Rebellion Theme Icon
Reb Saunders says that man is born evil with only the tiniest spark of good. This spark... (full context)
Judaism and Tradition Theme Icon
Fathers, Sons, and Rebellion Theme Icon
Reb Saunders then explains his childhood. Reb Saunders’ father taught him with silence. Reb Saunders as a... (full context)
Judaism and Tradition Theme Icon
Choosing and Being Chosen Theme Icon
Fathers, Sons, and Rebellion Theme Icon
Reb Saunders repeated this practice with his son so that Danny would not become like Reb Saunders’... (full context)
Judaism and Tradition Theme Icon
Choosing and Being Chosen Theme Icon
Fathers, Sons, and Rebellion Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
Reb Saunders begins to cry and say how hard it was to watch his son suffer. But... (full context)
Judaism and Tradition Theme Icon
Choosing and Being Chosen Theme Icon
Fathers, Sons, and Rebellion Theme Icon
Reb Saunders now speaks to Danny. He asks him whether he will shave his beard and earlocks... (full context)
Judaism and Tradition Theme Icon
Fathers, Sons, and Rebellion Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
Reb Saunders tremulously asks Reuven to forgive him for his anger over his father’s Zionism. Reb Saunders... (full context)
Judaism and Tradition Theme Icon
Choosing and Being Chosen Theme Icon
...Mr. Malter, who responds that this was possibly the only way to raise a tzaddic. Reb Saunders announces to his congregation that Danny will study psychology and that Levi will take his... (full context)