What is the purpose and meaning of the Chair of Elijah? I understand that (some?) synagogues have a chair called the Chair of Elijah. Does this mean that it is a special chair that is set aside for Elijah? Will the Messiah sit there when he comes? Are other people allowed to sit in it? Is this practiced in every Jewish synagogue?


4 Answers 4


Having prayed in many different Synagogues that are from all the spectrum's of Orthodoxy, I have never come across a chair that is left vacant for Mashiach. Perhaps this is being confused with the Kisai Shel Eliyahu which many Synagogues have, and is used by a Bris. However as per Sefer HaZichronos many times others do sit on the Kisai Shel Eliyahu.

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    I've edited the question in a way that I hope fits the bill for Anish. If so, it may slightly impact your answer.
    – Seth J
    Nov 15, 2012 at 20:56

The chair of Elijah is not a seat for the Messiah, and in most synagogues it's a ceremonial chair kept in storage 90% of the time. And, as Gershon mentioned, people do sit in it, both ritually and otherwise.

Some synagogues don't have a special chair just for Elijah, but use the closest chair to the Bimah for circumcisions; so people sit in it all the time.


I was today in the synagogue in Cavaillon France one of the oldest in Europe. They and apparently also Carpentras have a chair on a podest high up in a corner of the synagogue which you can not even get to it. So it seems there was such a thing once.

  • Welcome to Mi Yodeya! It seems that the assumption of the question is that such a thing exists, and that some synagogues have it. If you have anything to contribute about the purpose of this Chair, that would be more helpful. Enjoy your travels! May 19, 2014 at 19:44

I hesitate to give this answer, but there is a concept called "Moses' Seat" in the christian scriptures. (See Matthew 23:1-4.) The verse basically says that the scribes and pharisees sit in Moses' Seat. There were two theories about this verse: 1) That in ancient Israel, there was a physical/symbolic chair in synagogues where the wisest person (man) in the community sat; 2) it is purely a metaphor.

Having said that, I need to say that I do not view the christian scriptures as holy in any way. I am just offering up something that might add some clarity here.

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    I find this interesting, and by the way, I don't personally think you (necessarily) need to provide a caveat every time you bring in a reference from outside Judaism to shed light on something unusual. However, I don't think this answers the current version (and/or the intended version) of the question at all. It might be a good contribution as a comment, though.
    – Seth J
    Jan 24, 2013 at 18:02
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    Thank you. I'm new here so I'm still trying to figure out when something is an "answer" and when something is a comment. I guess I should have added: I have never heard of the "Chair of Elijah" but perhaps you are referring to Moses's Seat. Jan 24, 2013 at 19:10
  • @SethJ IS there a Moses Seat in Synogogue
    – Anish
    Jan 25, 2013 at 4:14
  • @ABlueThread Oh yes there is a Moses Seat referred in Christian Bible So there must be two seat ELijah's and Moses Seat
    – Anish
    Jan 25, 2013 at 4:15
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    @anish, not in any synagogue I've ever been to.
    – Seth J
    Jan 25, 2013 at 13:59

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