Summary: Chapter 15

In March, David Malter returns from the hospital and Reuven is elated to have his father home. At school, Rav Gershenson now calls on him regularly, and Reuven is always ready with expert answers. Danny continues to ignore Reuven, and Reuven finally comes to accept Danny’s silence.

As fighting in Palestine increases, Reuven and his Zionist classmates intensify their efforts, even volunteering to load supply trucks with military gear to be shipped overseas. In April, David Malter wistfully tells Reuven that he had been selected to be a delegate at the Zionist General Council in Palestine the coming summer. However, following his heart attack, he no longer will be able to attend. In May, the State of Israel is born, and Reuven and his father weep with joy. The Arabs immediately attack the young nation, and as they invade, David Malter again becomes distracted and unsettled. In June, the students at Hirsch learn that a recent Hirsch graduate was killed during the fighting. The college holds a memorial assembly, and all anti-Zionist activity at Hirsch immediately ceases.

Reuven receives straight A’s for his sophomore year, passes a quiet July in sweltering New York, and a calm August with his father at their cottage. In September, he begins his third year at college and chooses philosophy as his major. David Malter gradually resumes his teaching, and then, a few months later, his Zionist activities. That spring, after Israel has secured the upper hand, Reb Saunders’s anti-Zionist activities appear to end. Soon after, Danny approaches Reuven in the lunchroom, and, with a smile on his face, asks for Reuven’s help with math.

Summary: Chapter 16

After not speaking for more than two years, Reuven and Danny talk about the silence that existed between them. Reuven asks Danny how he can possibly bear the silence between him and his father, and Danny replies that he has learned to live with it. Reuven also expresses his dislike for Reb Saunders and remarks that Danny has lost weight. Danny says that his eyes have been bothering him. That night, Reuven discusses Reb Saunders’s imposed silence with his father. David Malter cryptically remarks, “What a price to pay for a soul,” but refuses to explain any further.

Danny and Reuven resume their regular weekday meetings, and also begin having dazzling disputes in class that please Rav Gershenson. Outside of class, Danny reveals that he resigned himself to the experimental methods of psychology and has begun to see the shortcomings in Freud’s work. Nevertheless, he still does not want to become an experimental psychologist. Instead, he has decided to go into clinical psychology, which combines experimental hypotheses with therapeutic work with human patients. Also, Danny has applied to doctoral programs in psychology. He informs Reuven that he is waiting until the day of his smicha—his Rabbinic ordination—to break the news to his father.

That June, Reuven attends Danny’s sister’s wedding and sees Reb Saunders for the first time in more than two years. Since Reuven last saw him, Danny’s father appears to have aged a great deal. Due to the crowd of people at the wedding, Reuven is unable to speak to Reb Saunders, but he does not mind the lack of communication with the rabbi, whom he still dislikes intensely. Later that summer, in July, Reuven visits Danny’s house and goes up to Reb Saunders’s study. Danny’s father says he is very happy to see Reuven and asks why he has not been coming over on Saturday afternoons to study Talmud. Reuven answers that he has been studying with his own father, but Reb Saunders asks him if he could come over one Saturday anyway. Though Reuven says he will try, he has no intention of honoring Reb Saunders’s request. After Reb Saunders says nothing about Zionism or about the silence he imposed between Danny and Reuven, Reuven finds he likes the old man even less than before.