Reb Tevye's Tradition, Family, and Religion over Time

Better Essays
Reb Tevye’s Tradition, Family, and Religion Over Time
Most modern Jews, young and old, have imitated Tevye singing about the traditions of his shtetl in his booming baritone, but across generations, political parties, and continents there are numerous interpretations of the word “tradition.” That singing, dancing Tevye was originally a poor milkman from a Yiddish novella, and both of these Tevyes have their adherence to tradition tested in several ways. The different worlds in which these two pieces were released affect the depictions and interpretations of what many see as the same story, but one common theme is what ties together the book, the movie, and everyone who appreciates their beauty: religion. One major difference in
…show more content…
In both stories, society all around Tevye is changing, but a huge discrepancy is seen that Tevye the Dairyman must stick to his tradition to prove something to external members of society, whereas Tevye from Fiddler is so adamant in his traditions because internally he cannot fathom going against everything he has believed in his entire life. A common phrase in Tevye the Dairyman’s running monologue is “What would my enemies think?” Who exactly does he mean by enemies? Tevye sees his enemies as anybody trying to impose change upon his shtetl and his lifestyle. This includes the Czar, those performing the pogroms, or anyone else who is upsetting the once-peaceful balance he saw between the Jews and the rest of the world. When Tevye from Fiddler argues the pros and cons of Chava marrying Fyedka, he thinks to himself “Can I deny everything I believe in? How can I turn my back on my faith? If I try to bend that far I will break. On the other hand…No! There is no other hand!” He comes to this realization because of what he has known his whole life, not because he feels the need to prove anything to anyone except God.
Both Tevyes prioritize their values in the following manner: religion first, then family values, and finally tradition. In the engagements and marriages of both Tzietl and Hodl, Tevye adjusts his own interpretations of family values and tradition, but religion creates a different conflict. When
Get Access