From Almoonir Dewji’s blog, an excellent story:
The prophesied return of the ancient prophet Elijah is perhaps the most intriguing and mystifying aspect of Passover. No one really knows exactly when or where the expectation that Elijah would return on Passover began, but it has nonetheless been a long-standing tradition to set an extra place at the table in anticipation of his return. Jews the world over believe that Elijah will come on the eve of Passover as a forerunner to the Messiah and that he will answer all questions and resolve all debates over the Torah.
At the recent Community Passover Seder event held at the Beth Tzedec Synagogue in Calgary, I heard one version of Elijah’s story that has a unverisal message:
A pious and wealthy Jew asked his rabbi, “For about forty years I have opened the door for Elijah every Seder night waiting for him to come, but he never does. What is the reason?” The rabbi answered, “In your neighborhood there lives a very poor family with many children. Call on the man and propose to him that you and your family celebrate the next Passover in his house, and for this purpose provide him and his whole family with everything necessary for the eight Passover days. Then on the Seder night Elijah will certainly come.” The man did as the rabbi told him, but after Passover he came to the rabbi and claimed that again he had waited in vain to see Elijah. The rabbi answered, “I know very well that Elijah came on the Seder night to the house of your poor neighbor. But of course you could not see him.” And the rabbi held a mirror before the face of the man and said, “Look, this was Elijah’s face that night.”
When I heard the story it reminded me of the Sufi saying: Past the suffering walked he who asks, “Why, oh God, do you not do something for these people?” To which God replied, “I did do something, I made you.”
So, are you Elijah or should we expect someone else?