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How to meet Elijah the Prophet

Dear Tzviling,

I have read many stories of Elijah the Prophet. I was told that great people actually had the privilege to see him. Tell me, how can I have the merit of his presence?

Masha, Colorado Springs

Dear Masha,

You ask a very good question. Have you ever attended a bris ceremony? Are you aware that Elijah the Prophet visits every bris? A special chair is prepared for him, known as the chair of Elijah. Every time you attend a bris, you are meeting Elijah the Prophet.

And you probably thought we would say, “impossible.”

Dear Tzviling,

Thanks for your prompt answer. You make it sound so easy. Let me clarify my previous question: How can I get Elijah to visit me at home? I’d even like to offer him something to eat (we keep kosher).


Dear Masha,

Ah, you wish to invite Elijah to your home and offer him some food.

How heavenly!

How about offering him a drink — like wine.

That’s right.

Once a year, Elijah visits your home and expects a drink.

Make that twice a year.

This happens on Pesach (both nights), right after your seder.

You pour a cup of wine (known as the fifth cup) and voila, you greet him in your home.

Make sure you have good wine.

Dear Tzviling,

I loved your answer. What I am really asking is, can I actually get to see Elijah with my own eyes?

Please answer.

You’re the best,


Dear Masha,

Actually, G-d is the best.

We all tie for second place.

And now for your question.

Let us share a story of the founder of the Chasidic movement, the Baal Shem Tov.

One year, a disciple came to the Baal Shem Tov with a similar question: “How can I see Eliyahu Hanavi (Elijah the Prophet)?”

The Baal Shem Tov did not reply at first.

However, after numerous requests, the person received the following reply four days before Rosh Hashanah:

“Travel deep into the forest and you will find a building.

“Spend Rosh Hashanah in that place.

“Make sure to keep your eyes and ears open.

“And you will see Eliyahu Hanavi.”

Since this entailed a three-day journey by coach, the disciple wasted no time.

He loaded his coach with ample food — after all, he was going to greet Elijah during Rosh Hashanah — and headed deep into the forest.

After three days of traveling, there it was!

The building!

Excitedly, he approached the building and heard a mother and her young children crying.

Apparently, the mother and children had no food for Rosh Hashanah and no visible means of obtaining it.

The disciple knocked on the door and introduced himself. He then asked if he could stay for Rosh Hashanah.

The woman replied, “It would be a privilege to accommodate you for the New Year, but I have no food to offer you.”

“Have no fear,” responded the disciple, “I have ample food for all of us.”

With joy in their hearts, everyone prepared for Rosh Hashanah. The family was joyful due to the food, and the disciple was joyful due to his anticipated visit with Elijah.

Rosh Hashanah came and went, but alas, there was no sign of Elijah.

With a heavy heart, the disciple mounted his coach and made his way back home.

The next day, the disciple — with tears in his eyes — approached the Baal Shem Tov.

“But Rebbe, you said I would see Eliyahu Hanavi.”

“Did you remember to keep your eyes and ears open?”

“Yes, I did!”

“Here is what you must do. Return to the same house for Yom Kippur and this time, you will see Eliyahu Hanavi.”

With a trembling heart, the disciple turned around and headed back into the forest.

When he arrived at the door of the house, just about to knock, he heard the children crying to their mother:

“But Mommy, what are we going to eat before Yom Kippur?”

“Don’t worry,” calmed the mother. “Just as Hashem sent us Eliyahu Hanavi last week for Rosh Hashanah, so too will Hashem send us Eliyahu Hanavi for Yom Kippur.”

SEND your questions to [email protected] to be answered with wit, wisdom and humor by identical twins Rabbis Yisroel Engel (Denver) and Shloime Engel (Montreal) who share their combined 100 years of experience.

Copyright © 2013 by the Intermountain Jewish News

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