The play opens with a melody played by a fiddler sitting on the roof of a small cottage. Tevye shares with the audience.
“A fiddler on the roof. Sounds crazy, no? but in our little village of Anatevka, you might say every one of us is a fiddler on the roof, trying to scratch out a pleasant, simple tune without breaking his neck. It isn’t easy. You may ask, why do we stay here if it’s so dangerous? We stay because Anatevaka is our home. And how do we keep our balance? That I can tell you in a word--TRADITION--Because of our traditions, we’ve kept our balance for many, many years. Here in Anatevka we have traditions for everything---how to eat, how to wear clothes. For instance, we always keep our head covered and always wear a little prayer shawl. This shows our constant devotion to God. You may ask, how did this tradition start? I’ll tell you---I don’t know.Throughout the play we hear Tevya sharing comfortably with God his happiness and complaints about the way his life is going.
But it’s a tradition. Because of our tradition, everyone knows who he is and what God expects him to do."
Tevye pulls a cart full of milk pails across the stage having a conversation with God.
“Today I am a horse. Dear God, did you have to make my poor old horse lose his shoe just before the Sabbath? That wasn’t nice. It’s enough you pick on me, Tevye, bless me with five daughters, a life of poverty. But what have You got against my horse? Sometimes I think when thing are too quiet up there, You say to Yourself: Let’s see, what kind of mischief can I play on my friend, Tevye? (Tevye pulls his cart farther down the lane, silently, looking toward heaven and continues talking) "As the Good Book says, Heal us, O Lord, and we shall be healed. In other words, send us the cure, we’ve got the sickness already. I’m not really complaining---after all, with Your help, I’m starving to death. You made many, many poor people. I realize, of course, that it’s no shame to be poor, but it’s no great honor either. So what would have been so terrible if I had a small fortune?"Tevye had an honest relationship with God. He did not share only those emotions and words that he thought God would find pleasing and acceptable. He recognized that God could handle his anger, frustrations, and pain. Tevye went to God with his real emotions, with his brokeness and pain. He wore no mask of cleanliness. He shared all of himself, the good as well as the bad, with God as one shares with a good friend.
Psalm 130 is a psalm of ascents. It climbs in a mere eight verses from the depths of despair, to forgiveness, to the steadfast hope of the redeemed. The psalmist holds nothing back.
Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord;God our Father desires a relationship with Him that is like breathing. A longing to share our fears and hopes with Him. We do not need to fear that God will sternly look down on us and think, “Oh, it’s you again. You have piled up a disturbing list of sins. What do you expect me to do about it?” God’s forgiveness is accomplished through His Son Jesus. His forgiveness is unconditional, undeserved, and complete. With Him is full redemption.
O Lord, hear my voice.
Let your ears be attentive
to my cry for mercy.
If you, O Lord, kept a record of sins,
O Lord, who could stand?
But with you there is forgiveness;
therefore you are feared.
I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,
and in his word I put my hope.
My soul waits for the Lord
more than watchmen wait for the morning,
more than watchmen wait for the morning.
O Israel, put your hope in the Lord,
for with the Lord is unfailing love
and with him is full redemption.
He himself will redeem Israel
from all their sins.