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Monday, April 14

The Weekly Shtikle - Leil Seder

Just this past Sunday, at a family Bar Mitzvah, I heard a very beautiful insight which is perfect for seder night. My cousin, Dr. Yoel Jakobovits, described how they recently discovered some unpublished notes from his father, Rabbi Lord Immanuel Jakobovits, z"l. This was one of the gems found therein.

We lead into Pesach with the haftarah of Shabbas HaGadol which ends with the tidings of the ultimate redemption and the arrival of Eliyahu HaNavi. In the gemara we find a number of references to Eliyahu's role in resolving disputes when that great day does come. In unresolved halachic matters the gemara will state teiku. Although the word does have an actual meaning in Aramaic, it is traditionally said to stand for Tishbi yetareitz kushyos ubaayos, Eliyahu (HaTishbi) will resolve the matter. In monetary matters we often find hashaar yehei munach ad sheyavo Eliyahu, the money that is subject to dispute will be placed aside until Eliyahu comes and resolves the matter. 

Lord Jakobovits explains why this role falls upon Eliyahu. It can be fairly safely stated that Eliyahu's defining moment was the showdown with the prophets of Ba'al at Har HaCarmel. He showed unwavering faith as he took on the masses, putting his life and everything he believed in on the line. But in addition to standing up to the staunch believers on the opposing side, he challenged the rest of the nation to quit sitting on the fence and waiting to jump on one bandwagon or the other. He demanded, with his timeless words, "ad masai atem posechim al shnei haseipim," how long will you continue to waver between the two opinions? With this, Eliyahu earned the eternal role as the resolver of doubt. 

But while we yearn for Eliyahu to be called upon to fulfill this role in the ultimate redemption, we find that Eliyahu makes various "appearances" in our times. Notably, many of these visits seem to involve children. Eliyahu is known as the mal'ach haBris and we have a seat for him at each one. On the night of the seder, when there is so much focus on transmitting the stories and traditions to our children, Eliyahu comes by once again. There is a connection. Lord Jakobovits posits that our children represent the idea of safeik, doubt. While we adults are, for the most part, set in our ways, the direction our children's lives might take very much hangs in the balance. We are tasked with shaping and molding them into the characters we would like them to become and we need the guidance of Eliyahu HaNavi to guide us on this mission.

Have a good Chag Kasher veSamei'ach
Please check out my archive of past Seder shtikles.

Eliezer Bulka

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