Elijah the Prophet

by Rabbi Robyn Fryer Bodzin

Two days before Passover, three pulpit rabbis were able to escape to a local Starbucks for an hour. They caught up about their families, the status of their cleaning and whether or not quinoa was making an appearance at their homes this year.

One of the rabbis asked if the other two would share their favorite part of the holiday.

The first rabbi shared that he loves the hagaddah. He considered it to be one of the best pieces of Jewish literature. This is a man who studies new haggadot as they are published and wishes his Seder table was full of like minded people, but is disappointed year after year, as most people just want to eat.

The second rabbi shared that he loved matzo. And not only does he love matzo, but he loves homemade shmura matzo. The twinkle in his eyes when he shared that his synagogue seder would be using shmura matzo for the first time was electrifying.

And then the third rabbi shared that she loves that on this holiday, Jews around the globe pour a glass of wine and open their doors in anticipation of the arrival of Elijah the prophet.

On Seder nights, we cross the thresholds of homes, Hillels, JCCs and synagogues carrying our own personal Egypts on our backs. Few of us are completely immune from illness, financial burdens, marital complications or work problems. In spite of our realities, midway through the seder we open the door as if to shout out “hey, Elijah, I am waiting for you to come to herald in a new era. I have hope in your coming and I will wait.” By getting up from the table we are saying that we know our world is broken, but we continue to have hope that in the future it will get better.

Perhaps the next time we sing “Next Year in Jerusalem” the four sons will stand together, arms linked, with smiles on their faces as the wolf finally lies down with the lamb.

Rabbi Robyn Fryer Bodzin serves as rabbi at the Israel Center of Conservative Judaism in Queens, NY.