4 May 2018

Published May 2, 2018 by rochellewisoff

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As always, please be considerate of your fellow Fictioneers and keep your stories to 100 words. (Title is not included in the word count.)  Many thanks. 

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Genre: Historical Fiction

Word Count: 100

THIS HOT MADNESS

Benjamin shoved a notebook under his son’s nose. “What is this mishegoss?”

Although the boy had expected his father’s wrath, he trembled. “They’re my stories, Papa. I’ve decided to become a writer.”  

“A sixteen-year-old child decides?” Benjamin shook his fist and thundered. “For this we send you to yeshiva?”

“I make straight A’s in Talmud class. Why can’t a rabbi write fiction, too?” 

Benjamin flung the binder to the floor. “Frivolous nonsense!” Pages scattered like dry leaves.

***

In 1967, thirty-eight-year-old Chaim Potok marveled when his debut novel, The Chosen, became a NY Times best seller. “What would Papa say now?”

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121 comments on “4 May 2018

  • Sometimes, our parents fail to see that some of us are capable of contributing in more fields than one.
    Beautiful, inspiring story. Thank you for sharing it, Rochelle.
    Love,
    Moon

    Liked by 1 person

  • Another great little glimpse of history 🙂 I think sometimes we forget that it hasn’t been too long ago that novels were considered works of the devil at the worst, and frivolous time-wasters at best. Maybe remembering that will help us understand Potok’s father’s reaction.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Linda,

      Sometimes, and certainly, in Mr. Potok’s case, religion and tradition don’t leave room for anything else. Alas those extreme sects still exist, don’t they? At any rate, thank you for taking the time to read and comment. 😉 😀

      Shalom,

      Rochelle

      Liked by 1 person

  • Brave boy – so pleased he stayed with his muse to become an acclaimed writer. Perhaps imagination – firing up a writer or painter or playwright – is subversive. Maybe that frightens some people.
    Love your story and its energy Rochelle.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Björn,

      My mom encouraged me (fortunately never forced me) to take secretarial courses in school. Like shorthand would do me loads of good today, right? 😉 And we’re all glad Chaim Potok followed his dream..even through his early days of poverty. 😉

      Thank you.

      Shalom,

      Rochelle

      Like

    • Dear Josh,

      I started reading him when one of my readers said my writing reminded her of him. Wow! What a compliment! I’m amazed at the parallels between some of our books…particularly “Davita’s Harp.” At any rate, thank you. 😀

      Shalom,

      Rochelle

      Liked by 1 person

  • Because the majority of us are so busy and wrapped up in our own tiny little worlds, we miss broadening our horizons. Thankfully, we have you, and other writers to give us a glimpse of what we would not see on our own. I am thankful for that. Nicely done.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Sandra,

      Yiddish does have some great words. Danny Thomas once did a whole monologue on the word “Fuhblunget” which means dysfunctional. Thank you for the comment and for being there for the past 6 years. 😀

      Shalom,

      Rochelle

      Like

  • I’m sure we all have our list of people who have written us off, waiting to be called when that first novel gets published… I like the quote and the idea of the ‘hot madness’. Nicely done Rochelle.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Iain,

      I know I probably wasn’t fun to be around when I was into my first novel. My son once told me I had a ‘writer’s look.’ When I asked what he meant he replied that I was here physically but was off somewhere in my head writing. Hot madness indeed. Thank you for taking the time to read and comment.

      Shalom,

      Rochelle

      Liked by 2 people

  • I’m as interested in Catholicism as you are in Judaism. When I looked him up I found out that he was greatly influenced by Evelyn Waugh’s ‘Bridehead Revisited’, one of the biggest milestones in Catholic literature and always quite a very favorite of mine. It’s too bad Potok’s father never lived to read his book . He died in 1958.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Larry,

      He was also influenced by another Catholic writer. There are some interesting parallels. I agree about Potok’s father. As I ended it, “What would Papa say now?” We’ll never know, will we? Thanks for reading.

      Shalom,

      Rochelle

      Liked by 1 person

  • I too loved that ‘hot madness’ idea – wonderful. It’s tough being a parent, wanting the best for your kids and watching them do things you think are a waste of their talents or inappropriate. Hopefully, Chaim’s life became a balance of all the different things in his life, from his religious beliefs to his writing and teaching. And wow, did he achieve a lot! Quite a polymath. Thank you Rochelle for sharing another fascinating life.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Lynn,

      A polymath indeed. His avid readers (like me) are glad for his defiance. Although I don’t believe he strayed far from the faith of his fathers.

      It is difficult as a parent to see our children make choices we don’t agree with. My parents certainly faced those difficulties with their offspring. 😉

      Thank you for reading and leaving a lovely comment as always.

      Shalom,

      Rochelle

      Liked by 1 person

      • It is hard and difficult not to interfere, especially if you see a situation and know from experience things will turn out badly. But we have to make our own mistakes to fully enjoy our successes – that’s what life is about isn’t it? I’ll try to keep telling myself that as my son embarks on his own round of mistakes … Always a pleasure 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  • I think a lot of “artists” have difficulty explaining to parents they want a career in art. It’s notoriously unreliable, of course. Still, if people hadn’t followed their heart and joined the Hot Madness, we’d be missing out on fabulous stories. Another wonderful piece, Rochelle.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Eric,

      My mom encouraged me to take secretarial courses in high school. A lot of good shorthand would do me now, right? However she did sit me down and teach me to type. (For that I’m grateful 😉 ) Alas, I was never meant to work in an office.

      Thankfully, while Chaim Potok did follow his faith and became a rabbi, he also pursued his dream of becoming a writer. 😀 Thank you.

      Shalom,

      Rochelle

      Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Lish,

      In many ways I envy him, not the least being his long standing on the best seller list. 😉 He heard and answered his calling at an early age. I doubt that you are lazy, but I understand how you feel. Thank you.

      Shalom,

      Rochelle

      Liked by 1 person

  • Dear Rochelle,

    Parents don’t always know what’s best, do they? Thankfully, some children challenge their parents by working towards their dream anyway.

    Now you’ve given me more books to add to my “to read” list… sigh…

    Lotsa love,

    Dale

    Liked by 1 person

  • Thanks for an inspirational story, Rochelle. 🙂
    Creative people always have a hard time convincing other people of what they are doing or what they are into. When these people are our parents, it’s all the more difficult to convince them of our creative aspirations.
    I’m happy Chaim Potok didn’t give up on his muse neither did the muse leave him alone.
    I’m so glad that I came across this story at a time when I needed it the most. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  • Great story, Rochelle, that raises all sorts of questions. Not least of them being the way parenting has changed over the last hundred years. The idea that a father should dictate his child’s future would have been normal then and very much against the trend nowadays. Which is right? Who knows!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Penny,

      I think in the case of the Potoks it’s as much a question of culture and tradition as time frame. In some sects of Judaism, the philosophies haven’t changed much. :/ Thank you for your kind, affirming words.

      Shalom,

      Rochelle

      Like

  • Dear Rochelle,

    Ha! Even the righteous can be rebellious against their elders. I love this story so much. I taught my children to rebel, against my mother’s wishes, of course. They are now grown and are doing what they love, so I guess it worked out. My mother has even told me what a good mother I am! The only time it was a struggle is when the kids and I had heated disagreements. Oh well, I guess I had to take the bad conversations along with all of the good ones we had. Oy!

    Sincerely,
    Renee

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Renee,

      I’m with you. I tried to teach my sons to be individuals. Sometimes that’s come back to bite me in the tush. 😉 Although I’m not sure I’d call myself a good mother. 😀 Thank you re my story.

      Shalom,

      Rochelle

      Liked by 1 person

  • Dear Verna Write W(T)F,

    Papa was probably a Rolling Stone. I bet he, Mick, and Keith had quite time partying while Chaim was pecking out his little book.

    Most of my family has a ho-hum attitude about my writing. They make comments like, “That’s nice,” or “Bless his little heart.” Even a best-seller would like produce a hearty yawn. After all, who wants to read about a Criminal Mime. (sigh)

    The Armadillo Stalker

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Armadillo Stalker,

      The feelings are mixed in my family. One of my sisters in law read my books and told me how surprised she was at how good they were. On the other side of it, my brother seems to the one with the ho hum attitude. He might be more interested if I wrote sci fi Well I write what I write, right? Of course, right! Not sure what he’d do if I did have a best seller. (sigh here, too).

      I hesitate, however, to endorse your Criminal Mime. It puts the silent minority in a rather bad light, whiteface notwithstanding.

      Well, time is on my side to swim. Say hello for those who might know me at OWFI. Maybe next year. 😉

      Shalom,

      Verna Write W(T)F

      Liked by 1 person

  • I saw The Chosen when it was in theaters.. great movie. Probably one of Robby Benson’s best performances. Loved your story too. So sad that culture can dictate the future of some young people without the ability to do what is in their heart.

    Liked by 1 person

  • Fascinating and informative. As a young father, I had my own ideas of what careers I should guide my sons into. Fortunately I backed down. We want the best for our children, but they need to explore life for themselve.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Mike,

      I never had any preconceived notions of what my sons should be. As it was I still wasn’t sure what I wanted to be when I grew up. 😉 Fortunately, Chaim followed his dreams. Thank you for your kind words.

      Shalom,

      Rochelle

      Like

    • Dear Shivam,

      As I’m learning in my ‘later years’ it’s never too late to pursue a dream. It is very sad when someone doesn’t. Glad this struck a chord. I hope you are following your dreams, sir.
      Thank you.

      Shalom,

      Rochelle

      Liked by 1 person

  • What does Papa know? What does anyone know, but the reader. Storytellers must never forget in this land of fiction that the reader is both king, queen and loyal and unloyalw subject. Great little tale, Rochelle charged with defiance and sparking other negative emotions.

    Liked by 1 person

  • Wonderful yet sad flash, Rochelle.
    Indeed, what would he say? My guess is his father would still say writing wasn’t a worthwhile profession. For some parents, parenting is a power struggle. It’s about obedience and not being proved wrong. Happiness, fulfillment, or success are not part of the equation.

    Liked by 1 person

  • Ha ha ha! This is almost line-for-line what my father said when I wanted to become a journalist and novelist. Crushed me. That was years ago, but I found life is sometimes about disappointing people in order to follow your heart.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Sascha,

      Although my husband protests to the contrary, he didn’t take my writing seriously in the beginning…just another obsession like my art no one seemed to take seriously (not even me). 😉 Thank you.

      Shalom,

      Rochelle

      Like

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