“The Lion” in the African folk song “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” refers to a redemptive leader who’s waiting in the jungle for the right moment to return to civilization. So too with Elijah is a biblical prophet who is said never to have died. There are therefore many legends associated with Elijah. In the Talmud, unresolved arguments will be resolved when Elijah comes. He will herald the coming of the messiah. In Jewish ritual, Elijah is a liminal figure, arriving at moments of danger and transition – at a brit milah, a chair is put out for him, a cup is poured for Elijah at the Passover seder, and he is invoked at havdalah. His Hebrew name is Eliyahu.: his visit is the herald of the messiah—of our future redemption. And what can bring the messianic age faster than singing harmony? (The most difficult part of leading this song is figuring out how to end it—after everyone gets going, and they’re smiling, and the energy is high.)
Song to the tune of “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” (à la Pete Seeger), at the moment when we open the door for Elijah.
Singing part #1: A writ of divorce. Traditionally, only a man can grant his wife a get. Liberal Jews have amended this tradition, making divorce more egalitarian. up, Jews, for he comes! Oh, here he comes! Oh, here he comes!
Singing part #2: A-wim-a-weh (repeat)
Singing part #3: To our household—this very household—Elijah comes tonight.