Religion against Art with Asher Lev
As the author Chaim Potok writes in the book “My Name is Asher Lev,” demonstrating the conflict of the theme religion and art tied into it with Asher Lev. The theme between religion and art has many different sections that all combined into this book with Asher, his parents and the Rebbe have a lot that conjoined into this. Chaim Potok the author wrote these sequels of the books because these books relate to his past. Asher has conflict of love between art and religion is very frustrating to him because of his parents and the community. Asher is gifted and talented artist that wants to have his whole world revolved around art, not religion.
The religion that Asher and his family worship by is the Jewish tradition essentially for anti-iconographic tradition. The Jewish are mosaic monotheism, offers a powerful statement to paganism and pagan worship. Jews do not interact or participate in any western art, no Jewish motifs in western art. Asher Lev enters into western art, which is a different direction that his religion takes him. “Asher grows up in a deeply religious Jewish family.” (My Name is Asher Lev). In the Jewish religion, they believe in the “sitra achra” meaning the “other side.” “This also threatens the tradition, might believe that they must shut their eyes to such a threat.” (Potok and Tradition). As Asher Lev grows older and comes to the conclusion that art is his passion, his parents become very agitated. “Asher’s passion lies in drawing, yet his parents find this a useless talent.” (Novels). Asher faces problems growing up, he didn’t have a hard childhood but it was different than most kids. He didn’t really have a father while he was younger and not really whenever he got older, his father traveled for the Rebbe. When he did get older, his father moved and eventually his mother traveled with him. He stayed in his home town for a while, without his family and a few friends that had helped him get more comfortable with art. When Asher creates a talent for his drawing, his parents disapprove. “Asher’s father made it quite clear how he felt about Asher’s talent.” (Novels). Aryeh Lev (Asher’s father), is a well devoted Hasidic Jew who thinks that drawing is foolishness and nothing but a waste of time. His father also states that Asher was given this gift from the other side. When Asher’s father found pictures that Asher had drawn, he was not happy. He said to Asher, “What is all this?” Asher said “drawings” Asher’s father proceeded to say, “Don’t be disrespectful to me, Asher. I see they’re drawings. You can’t study Chumash, but this you have time for.” (101).Asher’s father is not to excited about Asher spending all of his time drawing and not studying and putting forth effort to their religion. Aryeh was also raised where his culture does not allow art in his culture. Also, his culture was very dedicated to his religion. “His father does not even consider the fact that this gift which Asher holds could be used for good purposes. In the sheltered world in which Asher lives, he is taught to value only things pertaining to his religion.” (Novels). Other words, Asher’s father is so dedicated to his religion unlike Asher that he travels for the Rebbe. Moving everywhere and anywhere that the Rebbe tells him to go. On the other hand, unlike Aryeh, Rivkev (Asher’s mother), is kind what supportive of Asher. She has a problem with Asher’s talent but doesn’t have such a huge problem with it like Aryeh. Actually, Potok mentions in the book that Rivkev had asked Asher “why he had stopped drawing. You are really very good at drawing.” (52). that’s when Asher had not given up all of his religion to focus on art and said; “I hate it, it’s a waste. It’s from the sitra achra. Like Stalin.” (52). While Aryeh is traveling for the Rebbe, his mother starts to support Asher with some of his artwork. Revkeh Lev is “able to relate well to her son. She understands what it is like to have a strong...
Cited: Web. 29 Oct. 2012. <http://www.neiu.edu/~ncaftori/asher-lev.htm>.
“My Name is Asher Lev” n.d. Web. Oct. 29. 2012.
Web. 17 Oct. 2012. <http://www.sparknotes.com/lit/asher/themes.html>.
Potok, Chaim. “My Name is Asher Lev.” New York: Anchor Books, 2003.
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