Wednesday, April 12, 2006

And You Shall Tell Your Children On That Day...

My son once asked me how children could possibly believe in Santa Clause. How, after all, could anyone believe that he delivered gifts to children all over the world in a single night, especially since there was a much more logical explanation – that the gifts were from their parents.

This is what I told him:

“Jewish children believe that Eliyahu Hanavi comes to each seder and takes a drink of wine. We all pour him a glass of wine, open the door, and stand up when he is supposed to be there, invisible. Children believe in Eliyahu because their parents tell then that it is true, and act as if it is happening. This is the same reason that non-Jewish children believe in Santa.”


Blogger Big-S Skeptic said...

I don't recall ever really believing that Eliyahu was coming into the house. It was always sort of a "wouldn't it be nice if..." sort of ritual. I doubt whether anyone takes very seriously the idea that Eliyahu is out and about visiting houses, since this seems to run contrary to Jewish views of the spiritual world. But I wonder what the source of the ritual is...

April 17, 2006 4:26 AM  
Blogger dbs said...

I assume that it has to do with the 5th kose ‘V’hayvati’, referring to the future redemption, which Eliyahu is a percussive symbol. We refer to it as ‘Kose Shel Eliyahu’ not literally, but as a metaphor for welcoming the redemption.

Of course, Santa is not a dogmatic concept either, but has just taken on a popular meaning. There are more precise analogies, and probably none which are perfect. (Santa, after all, has become the ‘god of toys’.) However, whether we think that Eliyahu will actually come for a sip of wine or not, we do attribute many magical qualities to him; immortality, the ability to perform amazing miracles, etc..

April 17, 2006 1:19 PM  
Blogger e-kvetcher said...

What is a "percussive symbol"?

I assume you mean "precursive symbol" or maybe "percussive cymbal":)

April 18, 2006 1:17 AM  
Blogger Larry Lennhoff said...

As I understood it, another reason the cup was called Elijah's cup is because the discussion in Pesachim as to whether 4 cups of wine should be drunk or 5 ended with Teiku - it was left to Eliyahu Hanavi to render the final decision.

April 18, 2006 10:19 AM  
Blogger Shlomo said...

I was thinking about dressing up as either the Easter Bunny or Yoshke and visiting Orthodox homes during the sedorim. Fortunately, a bad cold and a little bronchitis stepped in.

April 18, 2006 5:34 PM  
Blogger Enigma4U said...

At least Santa brings you an x-box or Tickle-Me-Elmo. All Eliyahu can do is dribble some wine on the tablecloth, and if you've been good, throw some walnuts at you.

April 20, 2006 10:17 PM  
Blogger Just me said...

Funny; I made the exact same observation (about Elijah and Santa) at the seder this year.

Actually, Elijah has a more demanding schedule than Santa: he also has to attend every bris...

April 25, 2006 1:26 PM  
Blogger The Jewish Freak said...

I never told my kids the Eliyahu crap. I wish that story never got started, I find it embarassing.


April 27, 2006 11:36 PM  

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