Religion - Tradition
by Joseph Wolpert
One of my favorite Broadway musical shows is “Fiddler on
It is the story of a Jewish family - like many (including
my paternal grandfather) who left Russia because of
The central character is Tevya - the patriarch of the
family who earns his living as a milk man.
The music is wonderful and memorable. There are scenes that
evoke profound emotion and others that produce deep belly
Throughout the play - Tevya often walks to the front of the
stage, peers at one of the spotlights and talks to God.
In one particular scene, he moves toward the floodlights,
looks up at the spotlight and says (Iím paraphrasing) “In
our little village of Anatevka - everyone knows who he is
and what God expects. How? I can tell you in one word -
Then the orchestra and chorus begins the wonderful song
”Tradition”. Tradition is important for all spiritual or
religious groups because as Tevya says - it helps us with
our personal identity and we have a developed and coherent
view of our relationship with God.
There are very real and practical consequences of all of
Question: what happens when a Catholic Priest or a Rabbi
retires, leaves, or moves on from his Parish or Synagogue?
Does the attendance go down?
What invariably happens when a popular Protestant minister
leaves a church?
Is the attendance effected?
The attendance and growth at most Protestant churches is
tied into the popularity and effectiveness of the minister.
In fact, there is a saying - “As the minister, so goes the
These fluctuations in attendance and size of congregations
rarely occurs in Synagogues and Catholic churches because
they have “tradition” as a bonding, cohering, and
This not only solidifies the church - but it can also be a
major and positive factor in the families as well.
Half of my family is Jewish.
Every year, we would go to my aunt and uncleís home for
Passover Seder (thatís the first night of Passover).
It was wonderful.
Not only was the food always great - the tradition observed
through that meal gave you sense of belonging to
During the early life of the Christian church - there were
I am convinced that the early Christians who survived those
persecutions did so not only on theological grounds - faith
in what they believed - but also because of the strength
they garnered through a common tradition.
The same can be said for Jewish people who have survived
such insane and inhuman treatment throughout history.
Unfortunately, independent philosophical seekers of truth
tend to have little if any interest in history (which
There is an inherent “every person for himself” attitude
that ignores or rejects the value of history and tradition.
Tradition and rituals are simply viewed as symbolic forms
and practices that are not necessary if you understand the
”idea” behind them.
What is overlooked is that all “true” symbols reveal far
more than they hide and that participation in “group”
ritual, liturgies, and traditions - give meaning and
identity to those who participate.
Also, and perhaps of utmost importance is the fact the God
of the Judeo-Christian heritage or tradition is present in
and reveals Himself through such practices.
Tradition is always an asset.
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Joseph Wolpert is the Founder and Director of Joseph
Wolpert Ministries. An ordained minister, he travels
extensively across the United States and Mexico teaching on
The Holy Spirit and Spiritual Gifts. He also conducts
Healing Meetings where he prays for thousands of people a
Joseph Wolpert Ministries also offers Consultanting
Services to Churchs interested in growth and development.
JWM produces a wide range of audio cassette tapes. Reverend
Wolpert is the author of The Crux, The Core, and The Cross
of Christianity, I Don't Know How To Pray But God Does. You
can visit his web site at http://www.josephwolpert.org/