Monday, March 29, 2010

The Highest Seder with Reb Shlomo Zts”l 5

5) Eliyahu HaNavi

I saw this custom by a lot of Rebbes. When we open the
door for Eliyahu HaNavi, the prophet Elijah, some people
just open the door, and say "Shfoch Chamatcha" spill thy )
and keep on going. The way I have been doing it the
last few years is so special. Everyone takes a candle and we
all go down to the street, to greet Eliyahu HaNavi and there
we stay for a long time. Once, when Neshamale was little
and some people brought me a chair, we were sitting by
the door for two hours. Neshamale was sitting in my arms.
It was so holy, so special.
Without getting too personal, I would like to share a story
with you that actually happened to me. Maybe some of you
know about it. A few years ago, the Humanity Foundation
had a big conference in Toronto, to save the planet.
Obviously, it was organized by a lot of Jews. It was during
Easter and they had special
Easter prayers. Nothing for Pesach. The leader of the group
was named Yossi Cohn. Gevalt. As it so happens, Yossi is a
Yossi, you respect every religion ״ , good friend of mine. I said
except your own. We have two Seder nights, there will be
thousands of people, many Jews. Can’t you do something
״. Okay, you do something ״ , He said ״? for them
I played there the night of bedikat chametz. There were
hundreds of kids. I told them about bedikat chametz, how
holy it is. I invited them all to a Seder. Since I didn’t know
who was coming, we put up signs all over, saying that
anyone who wants to come to the Seder should buy a box of
matza and should bring hardboiled eggs, enough wine for
four cups, gefilte fish and one candle. I had to be home. This
was in Toronto, and I had to be home to make a Seder first
with my kids. From there to the Seder at the University of
Toronto was about an hour and twenty minutes walk. I told
them I’d begin the Seder at 11:30. I got there a few minutes
before twelve and there was not one sound in the whole
building. I walked up the steps and thought, obviously not
even one person came. I want you to know, to my most
unbelievable surprise, 1500 people were sitting at the
tables in complete silence. 1500 people of every race, every
religion were there. As far as I was concerned, that was the
highest Seder on the planet. The fire and the holiness, their
readiness was unbelievable.
I explained the Haggada as much as I could. Then we ate
matza, the egg, a little fish. We benched, (said grace). About
3:30, we went out to greet Eliyahu HaNavi. I want you to
know, there were 1500 candles standing by the door until
a quarter to five. I was telling Eliyahu HaNavi stories and
all kinds of other things. Until this very day, I travel all over
the world, I meet people who tell me they were at that
unforgettable Seder.
Eliyahu HaNavi does not knock on doors. A lot of us are
waiting to hear a knock at the door. Sometimes, one should

Lamed Vav: A Collection of the Favorite Stories of Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach

wait to hear a knock on the door. But, at great moments,
you have to open the door first.
Seder night, Eliyahu HaNavi comes ״ , One hippie asked me
spill ) ״ Shfoch chamatcha al hagoyim ״ , in and then we say
out your wrath upon the nations who do not recognize
You). Wouldn’t it be even more beautiful if, since Eliyahu
is coming, we would say words of love and peace? This is
a Torah of Shalom Bayis. Eliyahu HaNavi comes in and the
truth is, the world needs a lot of cleaning. There is a lot of
evil that has to be wiped out from the world. You know what
I say to G-d? Please, can You do the cleaning by Yourself?
Shfoch chamatcha al hagoyim - can You do it? Right now, I
am so high, I don’t want anything to do with cleaning. I just
want to tell the world there is one G-d. I personally don’t
want to be cleaning. During the year, we can’t get enough of
cleaning. We have to say bad things, that this person needs
to be cleaned out, that person needs to be cleaned out.
Like Rav Kook said, everybody wants to clean out someone
else’s apartment. But, when Eliyahu HaNavi comes in, it’s
clear to me, Ribono Shel Olam, I don’t want to be Your
cleaning man anymore. The only thing I want to say now is
Not for us, 0 Lord, not for us, but for Your Name do ״ . Hallel
״. we sing praises
story. A few ״ today ״ I want to tell you one more story. It’s a
years ago, on the day after Pesach, I had the privilege of
playing for Hadassah of New England. The concert was
very beautiful, but the women were more interested in
going to beauty parlors than they were in spiritual things.
Sometimes, you say something and you don’t even know
My dearest, beautiful ״ , why you said it. I said to them
ladies. I don’t know if you saw Elijah the Prophet. To tell
you the sad truth, I didn’t see him either. But, I swear to
you, the children saw him. What a privilege to be mothers
A very beautiful ״. of children who saw Elijah the Prophet
lady came up to me. The way she looked, you wouldn’t
think she had any depth inside. But, you never know. She
Do you know what you said? I can ״ , came to me and said
testify to it. My husband is a psychiatrist. Seder night, we
have a little Seder. This year my husband calls me up on
All this hocus-pocus is getting on my ״ , the phone to tell me
Maxine ״ , nerves.’ Now we have a little girl, Maxine. He said
will ask me four stupid questions and I’ll have to answer.
It’s stupid, the whole thing makes no sense. Let’s just eat
You’re right. I don’t care ״ , dinner and that’s it.’ So, I said
so much either.’ About three o’clock in the afternoon, my
little girl Maxine comes home. Her eyes are glowing with
I can’t wait for my friend Elijah the Prophet ״ , joy. She says
to come visit me. Do you know Elijah the Prophet is coming
tonight to see me.’ I realize that I cannot do this to her. I
Listen, we have to ״ , call my husband in his office and say
״. have a little Seder because Maxine is so excited about it
Okay, we’ll have a little Sederle, she can ask the

At the Village Gate

four questions, I’ll mumble a few words. But, that’s all.’
Maxine, let’s ״ , My husband came home annoyed, and said
go. Ask the four questions.’ She asked them, he mumbled
a few words and then we ate dinner. Then, my husband
Now, go to sleep, so you’ll get to school ״ , said to Maxine
Daddy, Elijah the Prophet is ״ , tomorrow on time.’ She said
coming to see me.’ This was too much for my husband. He
We are not oldfashioned Jews who believe in fairy ״ , said
tales. We are modern Jews. We don’t believe in fairy tales.
Go to sleep right now.’
My little Maxine ran to the window. In her whole life, she
never cried so much. I walked up to the window and said,
Mommy, ״ , Maxine, why are you crying so much?’ She said ״
can’t you see Elijah the Prophet standing by our door,
I just hope that wherever this little Maxine is now, ״’? crying
that she still waits for Eliyahu HaNavi.
You know, friends, so many of our children are so holy. They
Sadly enough, we put chametz into .״ matza children ״ are all
them. Our excuse is, we want them to rise. We want them
to be higher more civilized. That is not what we need. We
need to be matza Yidden, someone who knows the way
it really is. This is a story of Rav Tzvi Elimelech. He told
this story about his father. In those days, people were so
poor, but a way of making money was to become a tutor in
a rich man’s house. They taught children from Succoth to
Pesach, they made a few hundred rubles, and lived on that
the whole year. So, his father became a tutor for a rich man.
The first Shabbos that his father was there, there were no
How can you have a ״ , guests. His father said to the rich man
I don’t waste my ״ , The man said ״? Shabbos without guests
Rav Tzvi Elimelech’s father was ״. precious money on guests
Do me a favor. Take it off my salary. I ״ , so innocent. He said
״. cannot eat without poor people at the table
He stayed there from Sukkot until Pesach. A few days
Now, give me my ״ , before Pesach, he walked in and said
What do you mean? You ״ , The rich man said ״. 500 rubles
owe ME 500 rubles! Because of you I had to spend twice
Anyway, Tzvi Elimelech’s father ״. your salary on the poor
realized that this rich man would not let him go without
getting his 500 rubles back, so he ran to his room, took
his things and left. In the meantime, his wife didn’t have a
single penny. The grocer and the butcher were asking her
when she would pay them and she would tell them that her
husband was bringing money on Pesach. So, he thought,
how could I come home without any money? What am I
supposed to do? He arrived home in the middle of the night.
He was afraid to go home so he went to the Beis Midrash
(study house).
I was seven years old then. I went ״ , Rav Tzvi Elimelech sai

Sing My Heart

in the morning to daven and there was my father in the
Why didn’t you come ״ , Beis Midrash! I said to my father
I didn’t want to ״ , home? We miss you so much!’ He said
wake you up.’ I ran home to tell my mother that my father
came home. She was so happy. I ran back to my father and
For four weeks we had nothing to eat because ״ , told him
the butcher the grocer didn’t trust us any more. Now, we
went and told them that thank G-d, you are here. Now my
mother is preparing the best breakfast for you. We are so
happy you came home.’
Well, my father davened so long. He didn’t know what to do.
He took an hour to pack his tefillin up and I was pulling him
Let’s go home already.’ We walked ״ , the whole time, saying
in the street. He walked so slowly. Finally, we came to the
last corner before the house. Suddenly, a Cossack came
charging along and stopped right in front of my father. He
That’s ״ , I am looking for Reb Feivel.’ My father said ״ , said
The Cossack took a little bag and threw it at my father ״. me
and then took off. There was pure gold in it. Pure gold. So,
That Seder night, when my father ״ , Rav Tzvi Elimelech said
opened the door for Eliyahu HaNavi, I started yelling and I
״! Father, look -- The Cossack is here again ״ , sai

L'Kovod Shabbos

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