Does Elijah the Prophet Really Visit? Originally published March 30-31, 2018

We talk about Elijah a lot.  We sing about him every week at Havdalah, we hear his name at a brit milah, and in the blessings after reading a haftarah, and we invite him in for a cup of wine at our Passover seders.  “Eliyahu HaNavi…”

We read that Elijah will return to earth to announce ultimate redemption, and that he performed many miracles in his life, or at least was the conduit for them.  Some say he never died, he has gone to Heaven to await bringing the big news, and meanwhile to influence judgments which must be made, as he did when he was here on earth.  Many have said that he has swooped down periodically to help Jews in distress.

Elijah was a great supporter of our God against Baal of the Phoenicians:  this was Elijah’s most notable advocacy.  Adding the numerous small judgments and causes he also aided, along with his future mission, Elijah has a lasting notariety.

There are those who say that on Pesah we drink a glass of wine for every verb that God will do for us described in Exodus 6:6-8:  [I will] withdraw you, deliver you, redeem you, and take you to me for a people.  The next verse says, “I will bring you into the land…” and some rabbis say that needs a fifth cup of wine.  Thus we let Elijah settle it for each of us as he makes his way from home to home.  (My mother felt he was often good enough to leave the glass for the person who had done all the cooking.)  Someone even created an Elijah Tracker ( back in 2011 to see when he would be arriving.

We are taught that as Elijah was working on the Baal matter, God told him to go far away and the ravens would take him food from the plate of the King of Judah.  When the King learned the story, he ordered a special portion of meat and bread be served for that purpose.  Later, when Elijah traveled to Sidon, God had a woman feed him.  As she did, her meager amount turned into an endless supply.

Thus, in addition to being offered a glass of wine from everyone’s seder, the feeding of Elijah into eternity also has precedent.  Quoth the raven, “evermore.”