In this novel, Chaim Potok creates the character of Gershon Loran, a passive rabbinical student. Since he was sixteen Gershon has had visions that prompt him to study the Kaballah, a belief of Jewish mysticism. Troubled deeply by the dark reality born of the Korean War, Gershon and his roommate, the son of a man who helped create the atom bomb, travel to Korea and later Japan. There they encounter for the first time a civilization untouched by Judaism, lands radiate a light that Gershon has only experienced during his visions.

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