Legend has it that the prophet Elijah will appear to announce the arrival of the Messianic Era (some say the Messiah). On a daily basis, Elijah appears in the blessing after meals (Birkat HaMazon), where we ask God to send him to us bearing good news.
Elijah also appears at other times in our liturgy, but instead of asking the Divine to send him to us, we invite him by ourselves. We invited him into our homes during our recent sedarim, he is invited to join us at brit milah (and in many communities, naming ceremonies for girls) and he is invited to join us on a weekly basis during Havdalah.
He appears at times of transition and tension – on Passover as we commemorate the passage of the Israelites from slavery to freedom, at a naming ritual when a fragile infant is given a place in the community, and during Havdalah as we transition from the peace of Shabbat to the uncertainty of the week.
We invite Elijah precisely because we want him to come with b’sorot tovot – with good tidings. That humanity will be better. That suffering will cease. That disease will vanish.
So let’s not have Elijah leave us so quickly this year. And on Saturday night, let’s fervently invoke his name so that he will arrive with good news.