A beautiful sentiment!
Here is a story of the Baal Shem Tov, the founder of Hasidism, a story my mother, herself an eighth-generation descendant of the Besht, told me:
It happened that a disciple of the Besht came one day to the master and said: “I don’t understand. Every year, we have a wonderful Seder, we do everything we have been instructed to do, and every year, we open the door for Elijah — and he never arrives. How can this be? I feel we are spurned.”
The Besht considered his disciple’s complaint, and then told him to load a wagon with food, wine, matzos and also clothes and gifts for the children, and travel to a certain hut in a nearby village and spend the first two days of Pesach with the destitute family that lived there; it was there that he would certainly see Elijah.
The Hasid followed the Besht’s instructions punctiliously, and the next morning he arrived at the dilapidated hut in the nearby village. He was greeted warmly, his gifts were accepted with tears of gratitude, and that night, the entire family — mother, father, five children, along with their surprise guest, celebrated Pesach together.
Yet when the door was opened for Elijah — no Elijah.
Bitterly disappointed, the Hasid returned to the Besht and told him what had happened — and, more important, what had not happened. The Besht explained that Elijah must have been delayed, but that at Pesach time next year, the Hasid would surely encounter him. So he must at the time of the holiday return to the hut, once again with a wagon filled with food and gifts — but this time, before knocking on the door, he must first eavesdrop on the goings-on within the hut.
The Hasid did as told, putting his ear to the door before knocking. He heard the mother’s lament: “We have no food for the holiday. Nothing. How can we celebrate?” And he heard the father’s reply: “Not to worry! Don’t you remember that last year, Elijah came with all that we needed, and gifts for the children as well? Have faith; he will surely come on time once more.”
So ends the story, save for its moral: Hillel taught, “Where there is no man, be thou a man.” The Besht, through this story, taught, “Where there is no Elijah, be thou Elijah.” Bring closer the redemption.
Friday, April 08, 2011
Where there is no Elijah...
A beautiful story as told by Leonard Fein at the Jewish Daily Forward.