Christian children wait eagerly for the arrival of Saint Nicholas (Santa Claus) and Jews anxiously await the arrival of Elijah the Prophet, hopefully bringing good news heralding the coming of the messiah.
This year my seder will be the smallest ever. As a child we had 25-30 people sitting at the seder table. In married years there was our family of nine with one empty seat for the prophet Elijah, plates, cups, utensils and a special goblet set at his place.
For the second year, my wife’s seat will be empty. The seder will never be quite the same without her. This year our seder will consist of only three of us…me and my two daughters. For the very first time my son, his wife and three children will not be with us. They will be traveling to a distant place in a hotel that will provide a seder and kosher food. But they will be sorely missed. I told them to sing Adir Hu, Echad Mi Yodaya and Chad Gadya extra loud so that we might be able to hear them from the distance.
At Elijah’s place I have set two bottles of fine Israeli and Italian kosher wines… a red Binyamina Cabernet Sauvignon and a white Bartenura Pinot Grigio. I don’t know which wine he prefers so I’ll leave the choice up to him. No doubt, if memory serves me right, he will sample both the red and the white.
The biggest problem is that Elijah the prophet is usually inebriated on this particular night. Flying from land to land, sea to sea, ocean to ocean he samples a minimum of 16 million glasses.
It is no wonder that he gets lost. He has no GPS and no Waze to instruct him in directions. In his not-so-sober state how can he possibly distinguish Jewish homes from non-Jewish homes?
In long-ago days he could see the markings of sheep’s blood on the doorpost of a Jewish home and he would enter with a boisterous “chag haPesach kasher v’samayach”.
As the door of the home was opened to welcome him, all at the table would rise and recite aloud a special prayer of greeting. Jews prayed that he would deliver a message of salvation, of good health and long life to each member of the family, of peace in our beloved homeland in Eretz Yisrael, our moledet, our Jewish and sometimes democratic Medinat Yisrael.
And we would raise our voices urging him to rid the world of our enemies and all those who seek our destruction.
At last year’s seder, the very sad one following the death of a very honored and beloved wife, mother and grandmother, Elijah did not arrive at the appropriate fixed time. We were very concerned until sometime later he banged on our door shouting, “Yehudim, tiftechu et ha delet”… Jews, open the door.
He entered somewhat disheveled and I thought perhaps he had too much to drink but he apologized.
“I lost my way somehow and could not find you so I stopped at other Jewish homes nearby. The wines they had reserved for me were not exactly for my taste so instead I asked for a glass of good Scotch whiskey. Chivas Regal improved my taste and gave me the added necessary strength to continue on my journey. Now I am glad that I have found you”.
“Listen, Eliyahu”, I said “for your travels next year I will provide you with either a GPS or WAZE in order that you don’t get lost again. Which of those would you prefer?”
His fingers pressed on his chin, stroking his beard, he replied, “it’s like a choice between red wine and white wine. They are both wines and I enjoy them too much…both of them. Don’t bother buying me a direction finder. Just shout out my name and soon you will hear me knocking at your door”.
He stuck his small finger into the charoset, licked the finger and was gone in an instant.
Probably in a hurry to get back to Mt. Carmel in order to debate with Jezebel’s Phoenician descendants once again.
Baal lost the debate. But Hashem as always, was the victorious winner. And from the heights of Mt. Carmel I could hear a voice in the wind….
Chag haPesach kasher v’samayach l’koolam v’shalom al Yisrael.
A happy, kosher Pesach to all, and peace upon Israel.
So I lifted up my voice in a loud volume in order that he could hear me.
“But tell us, Elijah, who is the messiah and when is he coming?”
And the prophet replied, “I don’t know. Ask Bibi.”