Three thousand years ago, a farmer arose in the Middle East who challenged the ruling elite. In his passionate advocacy for common people, Elijah created a legend which would inspire generations to come. Elijah declared that he would return once each generation in the guise of someone poor or oppressed, coming to people's doors to see how he would be treated. Thus would he know whether or not humanity had become ready to participate in the dawn of the Messianic age. He is said to visit every seder, and sip there from his cup of wine. Tonight we welcome two prophets: not only Elijah, but also Miriam, sister of Moses. Elijah is a symbol of messianic redemption at the end of time; Miriam, of redemption in our present lives. Miriam’s cup is filled with water, evoking her Well which followed the Israelites in the wilderness. After the crossing of the Red Sea, Miriam sang to the Israelites a song. The words in the Torah are only the beginning: Sing to God, for God has triumphed gloriously; Horse and driver, God has hurled into the sea. So the Rabbis asked: Why is the Song of Miriam only partially stated in the Torah? And in midrash is found the answer: the song is incomplete so that future generations will finish it. That is our task.
Open the door for Elijah and Miriam; rise.
You abound in blessings, God, creator of the universe, Who sustains us with living water. May we, like the children of Israel leaving Egypt, be guarded and nurtured & kept alive in the wilderness and may You give us eyes to see that the journey itself holds the promise of redemption. Amen.
(Adapted from an insert in Lilith Magazine.)
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