Elijah the Prophet comes to every Bris, we usually do not see him, but we can experience his presence if we focus our mind towards it. While many people aspire to seeing him, no one aspires to becoming him, but this a mistaken attitude. The Baal Shem Tov, the first and great Chasidic sage, once had a wealthy student who desired above all else to see Elijah the prophet. This represented a high spiritual revelation only attained by individuals of exceptional spiritual status.
The Baal Shem Tov advised his student to take a luxurious Shabbat meal to a decrepit shack near the edge of the city and spend Shabbat with the family. The student was more than thrilled to fulfill his Rabbi’s instruction and the family also enjoyed their lavish Shabbat, however one element was missing from the whole experience: Elijah the Prophet. As a faithful follower of the Baal Shem Tov, he was still a little disappointed and went back to his Rabbi to ask him what he did wrong and what he had to do in order to actually see Elijah the Prophet. His Rabbi explained that he did nothing wrong at all and that all he had to do was repeat what he did the previous week and see if actually experiences the revelation of Elijah the Prophet.
He tried it again, and while everyone was happy and enjoyed the Shabbat they spent together, he was still disappointed by the lack of Elijah the Prophet’s presence. Not deterred from the previous two experiences, he went back to the Baal Shem Tov, who advised him to try the same scheme for a third time, and that this time he would certainly see Elijah the Prophet. Again the student prepared the Shabbat meal, packed it into his wagon and travelled towards the shack near the edge of the city, approached the house and prepared to knock on the door to inform them of his arrival.
Before he could knock on the door he heard an exchange from within the house; one of the children asked the mother what they would do for Shabbat since they had no food, to which the mother answered that Elijah the Prophet had come the last two weeks, and that he would certainly come again!
While this man did not get to see Elijah the Prophet, he accomplished something greater; he became Elijah the Prophet. Elijah the Prophet is said to be in the individual who will usher in the redemption, when human consciousness will make a paradoxical shift. He is also known as the individual who comes in a person’s time of need, and provides support when he thinks that no one can help him.
In our lives we sometimes become obsessed with our own experience, we look at life as a giant buffet where every moment can be filled with inner growth and personal experiences, yet this sort of life is inherently lacking for we never get to reach beyond ourselves. It is incumbent upon us to realize that the covenant of the Bris is not a spectator sport; it is not about how much positive change we can see or experience rather it’s about being the positive change ourselves.
Rabbi Yehoshua Levin
Certified Mohel for Circumcisions for all ages