It was a few days prior to the first seder of Pesach. My two wonderful and amazing daughters had worked feverishly for several days cleaning the apartments, washing the rugs, scrubbing the floors, cleaning the stoves, ovens, microwaves, freezers and refrigerators, cooking and baking enough for 50 people, though we would be only 9 at the seder.
They would not let me help. They just reminded me frequently, “Abba, please stay out of the kitchen. Abba, go lie down and rest or read a book and let us do our work without interruptions”.
So I decided to take a stroll. The sun was shining. There was a cool breeze. Flowers were blossoming in the lush green grass in front of family homes.
As I turned a corner, I met an old man. A very old man. Long white beard. A ragged and torn gown. Sandals on his feet. A large stick in his right hand. He used his left hand to wipe the sweat from his brow.
He greeted me by my name. Shocked, I asked him “How do you know who I am?” And he replied, “God has given me the wisdom to know all things.”
Thinking that I had met a lunatic I asked him, “Who are you” and he replied, “I am Elijah the Tishbite. Surely you have heard of me. I visit your home every year at this season of the Pesach festival”.
I could not believe it. Either he was crazy or I was hallucinating. But he continued talking.
“I am the prophet from the days of the reign of the foolish king Ahab of the northern kingdom of Israel in the ninth century before what you call the “common era”. It is I who challenged the false prophets of Baal on the mountain top of Carmel. It was I who banished Baal worship in Israel and it was I who had to flee for my life and hide in a cave. It was Ahab’s wicked wife, the Phoenician pagan queen, Jezebel,.
who sought me in order to kill me .”
“Yes” I replied. “I remember reading the story in the Book of Kings. You were called a prophet and a worker of miracles”.
“That is who I am”, he replied.
“If so”, I answered, “if you are the alleged worker of miracles, why did you not perform miracles to save six million of my people from the genocide of the Shoa?”
He paused, stared at me, hesitated, and before he could reply to me, I continued. “The prophet Malachi prophesized your return, the return of Eliyahu HaNavi, and he referred to you as One who will announce the coming of the Messiah. Where were you? Why were you silent? Couldn’t you have summoned the Messiah to deliver God’s chosen people from the gas and fires of death?”
Only then did he answer me. “My son, God created man. All mankind is His creation. He gave man the power to choose good over evil. Once man makes his choice, God does not interfere. Instead, God wept bitter tears and cried “were there no good men of My creation to stop the genocide and to rescue My people from destruction?”
“Where was the Messiah”, I asked ? And he replied “I could not announce his coming until mankind had ceased to do evil and learned to do good”.
Then Elijah changed the subject and began to talk about Israel in the land and the State of Israel. He said that God was not happy with the unkindness that He saw among His people. He told me that on the eve of Passover he visits every Jewish home across the world and most every home has set a goblet of wine in the center of the table to honor him upon his welcome arrival.
In mentioning Bibi and Tibi he remarked “Bibi is not one of my most favorite Jews. But Tibi, a Muslim Arab, is always polite. I am a prophet also for the Muslims. And Dr. Ahmed Tibi, a leader of his people, always greets me with a warm “Salaam. Allah yakun maeakum al nabi I’ilia. God be with you, prophet Elijah”.
“I could not drink from the goblet set for me in the Netanyahu home. It was filled only with sparkling champagne, the champagne of bribery, the champagne of corruption”.
“Don’t you ever get drunk from the billions of goblets set for you?”, I asked with some humor.
“My son, a sip here and a sip there. The beverage is only “rented” and I have to dispose of it millions of times. Only in that way can I remain sober.”
I reminded him how beloved he is in all Jewish homes. Not only is he a very welcome guest on Pesach night, but he is remembered in the concluding verse of the Havdalah ceremony ending Sabbaths and festivals by the light of a braided candle.
“Eliyahu ha Navi. Eliyahu ha Tishbi. Eliyahu, Eliyahu, Eliyahu haGiladi. Bimhaira b’yomainu yavo ailainu im moshiach ben David, im moshiach ben David”.
Elijah the Prophet, Elijah the Tishbite, Elijah of Gilead, let him come quickly in our day together with the messiah, son of David.
Overwhelmed, he quickly disappeared. Probably en route to another of the many millions of Jewish homes he must visit.
In each home the door is opened to welcome him. We long to hear the good news concerning the coming of the messiah.
We have waited three thousand years !
Regrettably, my arm is not long enough nor my hand not strong enough to outstretch it in order to shake the hands of all my people ba asher hem sham— wherever they may be— in order to wish them a chag haPesach kasher v’samayach. A blessed Passover festival.
Hopefully the words of my rabbis will be true. “D’varim she yotz’im min ha lev nichnasim el toch ha lev”…. words which come from one heart many enter into many other hearts. Amen. Ken yehi ratzon. So may it be !