Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Elijah the Prophet

Last night toward the end of the Passover Seder, the little kids at our table rushed to the door and opened it, waiting for Elijah the Prophet (Eliyahu HaNavi). My great-nephew Amichai kept said, "Where is he? Where is he?" The girls peeked out the door, but no Eliyahu.
Our door was open to the street, and we sat waiting for the wine in the giant goblet to go down a little - proof that Elijah had indeed visited us.
I thought about the open door. We were observing our Seder in Bet El, right next to the Arab town of Ramallah. No one thought for a moment that perhaps the open door wasn't the best idea. Last night was a lail shimurim (a night of watching). G-d has been particularly watching over the Jewish people on this special night for more than 3300 years already.
I wondered if the Jews living under the Roman tyranny had their doors open on the night of Passover. And if the Jews of Russia kept their door open during the time of the Chelminicki Massacres. Did the Mir Yeshiva students who had escaped from a burning Europe during World War II to Hong Kong have their doors open for Elijah the Prophet? Did the Jews of the Southern USA in the 1960s leave their door open while Klu Klux Klan members roamed the streets? Do the Jews of Paris and Gondar and Johannesburg have their doors open for Elijah the Prophet?
It suddenly hit me that opening the door for Elijah is not only a cute idea to keep the children awake. It is a tremendous show of faith in G-d. Tonight (last night) is said to be a lail shimurim (a night of watching) for all generations. We believe in you, Hashem, and we have faith that you will watch over us wherever we are, whenever we are.
Just as G-d protected us on that fateful night in Egypt, so may He watch over the Jewish people throughout eternity.
And just as the Jewish people returned from the exile to the Promised Land to rebuild the Holy Temple, may it happen in our day as well.
Happy Passover. THIS YEAR in Jerusalem!

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