In the novel, My Name Is Asher Lev, Asher grows from a conservative boy, to a very liberal young man. He learns to change his way of thinking, about art, about family, and about religion. This angers many people, but to him, it is for his own benefit to do so. The way of the Jewish religion is to think that everything one does is for god. Life is devoted to pleasing the Master of the Universe. But this is not what Asher wants to do. Asher wants to devote his life to becoming a better person through his artwork. When he was young, he thought that his artistic talent came from his Master, and it was there to make people happy. The gift he was given has changed him completely, to the point where he has almost made an ďabout faceĒ in terms of his moral composition.
Asherís initial concept of art was what he learned from his parents. They told him that it came from the other side, and that it would lead one to be evil. He was always interested in it, but for much of the time that he spent at home, he felt guilty that he liked it because of the effects it had on his parents.
His family had always persecuted him for his art. They thought that it was a gift from the other side, and something that would turn Asher into a person that thought only for himself and not for his people. From their perspective, this is true. Both his parents have devoted their lives to helping Jews, and to have a son that is interested in such a different field may be hard to accept. The world of the artist is much different than anything they value in their community, and intimidates them as a group because it is so liberal.
Asherís dealing with art also affected the way that he thought about other religions, as well as his own. As it was said before, in the beginning of the book, he was very conservative, and deeply attached to the Jewish religion. This may have been because of his own devotion, we donít know, but I think that it was only because he was in a very religious household. I think his family had the most influence here, therefore controlling what he did. I think that if he were all by himself, he would have become much more liberal on his own anyway. But when he met Jacob Kahn, this was the major turning point. The things he did with him violated some morals of his religion, and let him view and study many things that were very important to Christianity. Reading from the bible, studying crucifixes, and painting nudes were all things that let him drift a little farther away from what he had been taught as a Jew.
So why did Asher become the liberal person he ended up to be? It was a slow and gradual process that happened while he was gradually being brought into the world of art. Without art, Asher didnít feel had that many talents. It was one of the only things that really gave him joy. When he did art he was happy, and when he learned that he was good, he was confident. These two things are very important in the mind of someone who is able to make a statement, a liberal.
Second, Asher met Jacob Kahn. This was the big step. With Jacob, Asher was able to release himself without fear or inhibition of creating and displaying his art. It was Kahnís job to bring out artist in Asher, the one who was able to change the world of art. The conservative boy he was given was only the product of living with conservative parents, and it was his duty, as assigned by the Rebbe, to change this aspect. This would only be complete when Asher had his first show.
Asher was born into a world, and a community that valued being very refined and private. It was their religion that stated it was morally wrong to be so open. Being an artist requires on to be outgoing and not afraid to show off the most extreme of works, and for Asher, this was his great struggle. Asher became liberal with the help of many people along the way, the most important of them all being Jacob Kahn. He was taught to lighten up, and not see the world as being so strict. He was being taught to loose some of his religion, and forget one some have told him to be very important. It was almost as if Asher gained a new family as well as artistic skills, but that what was needed for him to gain the respect and the stature that he holds by the end of the book.