Are we arguing with the Creator, thanking Him, asking the hard questions, as Tevye does in the stories by author Sholem Aleichem?
In Philippians 4:6, God invites us to ask Him for things. When we enter prayer, we enter relationship with God. When we use God’s words, in prayer we learn to trust that God answers our prayers according to His good purposes. When we dwell in Scripture, have ongoing conversation with Him, we begin to delight in the Lord (Psalm 37:4), and His desires become ours.
Fiddler takes place in pre-revolutionary Russia (1905). The story of Tevye, his wife Golde, and their five daughters is filled with laughter, tears and enthralls readers as they witness the battle between tradition, and the distractions and demands of modern life. One sees not only the assault on the Jewish tradition, but also the assault on families of faitt—and on faith itself. We also witness the tragedy of sin and how it affects us and the world around us.
Teyva, a man of integrity and passion for life, is torn between his God-given role as the spiritual leader of his home and his community—along with the demands of a changing world. “Though no scholar, Teyva respects learning and has ongoing conversations with his Creator; arguing, thanking him, asking the hard questions.” Just as we do today. Each member of the family undergoes their own battles and tragedies in their roles.
If you pay close attention, the book is beautifully written and forces us to self-awareness about our own faith and our obedience to the Lord, our responsibilities to our family, friends, and the world around us. Teyva wasn’t wrong when he says:
“… but it’s a tradition… and because of our traditions… Every one of us knows who he is and what God expects him to do.” Our tradition, in reading the Word, becoming people of prayer, does the same thing.
Not much has changed since 1905. The same forces which find us in our “idyllic world” are striving to steal some of the most important things of our lives. Distractions encroach on our responsibilities to God, on our roles as spouses, children, friends, and our obligation to the world around us. And there is devastation all around.
Okay, so if you loved Fiddler, you are going to LOVE Tevye The Dairyman. Picture that same Tevye on a train, telling 21 stories. Each of “them examining human nature and modernity as they are perceived by men and women riding the trains from town to town. Still quoting, misquoting Scripture, the loving Tevye will make you laugh, and hopefully remind you that we can find happiness in Faith. As Tevye, as the Dairyman says ‘When the heart is full, it runs out of the eyes.’” That’s what both works did to me. Either because I was laughing, crying, or just moved to worship. Thanking God for His steadfast love towards us! So don’t pass this book by, if you need a good cry or laugh, and remember what Tevye says: There is no other hand, when the choice is to turn your back on your faith.
Aleichem, Sholem (1987). Teyve The Dairyman and The Railroad Stories. Translated and with an indortuction by Hillel Halkin. Schocken Books Inc.