Singing about Elijah at the end of Shabbat

By Rabbi Julian Sinclair, July 27, 2012

After reciting havdalah at the end of Shabbat, many people sing “Eliyahu Hanavi”, a song about the prophet Elijah and our hope that he may arrive soon to herald of the coming of the Messiah. (As Malachi prophesies, in the haftarah read before Pesach, Elijah will be sent before the “great and awesome day of the Lord”.)

The Talmud refers to Shabbat as “a taste of the world to come”. Shabbat’s holiness and respite from the distractions of everyday life are a preview of life in messianic times. As we return to our weekday lives and leave the holiness of Shabbat, we pray that Eliyahu may come and bring with the Messiah with him.

According to some traditions, after Shabbat, Eliyahu keeps note of those who have observed the seventh day well and deserve reward. “Eliyahu Hanavi zachur latov” (Elijah the Prophet, may he be remembered for good), as he is called in the Grace after meals, is punned to be read mazkir latov, “records for good”.

Last updated: 11:02am, July 27 2012