Today some of the people from our church went to see the play "Fiddler On The Roof".
This as been a favorite play of mine since I was a teenager.To this day I still know every song word for word because I played the record so many times.
The main premise of the play is about a Jewish father during 1904 when the Russians were expanding their land and throwing the Jews out of villages because they were considered only tolerable at best.
Traditions at this time was very important.You married through arrangement,the father was the head of the house hold and you never married out of your religion.
The thing with traditions are they are all well and good until the real world creeps in and then decisions need to be made as to what can be kept and what can not.
If,like in this play,you are fortunate enough to be left alone then traditions can stay pure but as always at some point the world comes to your door step and then what?
Its change or fall by the wayside.
But how much do you change? can you bend or do you break? What is relevant and what is not?
In the play during a wedding scene the unthinkable happens and a man ask a woman to dance.One man jumps up and says "It is against the bible,a sin" the wedding guests ask the Rabbi who says "we'll it doesn't say its a sin."
In the Orthodox Church these things happen,people know tradition and think it is religious dogma but come to find out it is not.Just because you were taught something does not make it Gospel truth and just because you practice something does not make it dogma.Thinking something is the way it is only to find out you have been innocently misled can be scary.
A tradition is a wonderful thing it links our past to our present but not all things from the past are correct and not all the answers you have been taught are right.The one thing about the Jewish faith is that it encourages you to ask questions and even the Rabbis may answer a question with a question.
In the play when asked why Jews wear hats all the time the lead character says "I don't know why we just do,its a tradition."
Sometimes clearing up tradition with correct answers helps us to understand why it is important for us to do things traditionally or not.
For the American Orthodox Church A change may be in the air,we are a new breed and what stays with us as a cultural traditional and what leaves us are questions that need to be asked.How strong are we? Will we adapt and move forward or stand still and flounder?
Change and tradition are good when done for the right reason but like anything else to much change or to much tradition can put us on a collision course with something we may not be able to turn back from,the brink of extinction.
I don't know about you but after 2,000 years of faith,since the apostles,I would not want to be the one who derails what was handed down to us.
The fact is we must figure out what is God made and what is man made then walk the tight rope of both and try to keep our religion in balance.
We must face the present generation but not water down the religion striking a balance between new and old.