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Why four cups of wine by the seder?

Why four cups of wine by the seder?


Wine is considered a royal drink, one that symbolizes freedom. It is the appropriate beverage for the nights when we celebrate our freedom from Egyptian bondage.

Many reasons are given for drinking four cups of wine. Here are some of them:

When promising to deliver the Jews from Egyptian slavery, G‑d used four terms to describe the redemption (Exodus 6:6-8): a) "I shall take you out..." b) "I shall rescue you..." c) "I shall redeem you..." d) "I shall bring you..."

The four cups symbolize our freedom from our four exilesWe were liberated from Pharaoh's four evil decrees: a) Slavery. b) The ordered murder of all male progeny by the Hebrew midwives. c) The drowning of all Hebrew boys in the Nile by Egyptian thugs. d) The decree ordering the Israelites to collect their own straw for use in their brick production.

The four cups symbolize our freedom from our four exiles: The Egyptian, Babylonian, and Greek exiles, and our current exile which we hope to be rid of very soon with the coming of Moshiach.

The words "cup of wine" are mentioned four times in Pharaoh's butler's dream (Genesis 40:11-13). According to the Midrash, these cups of wine alluded to the Israelites' liberation.

According to Kabbalah, there are four forces of impurity (anti-divinity, or kelipah). On Passover, when we celebrate our physical freedom, we also celebrate our liberation from these spiritual forces. Our physical departure from Egypt was a reflection of our spiritual one—we were pulled from the clutches of depravity and impurity and set on the path to receiving the Torah and connecting with G‑d.

Rabbi Silberberg resides in Brooklyn, New York, with his wife, Chaya Mushka, and their three children.
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Yehudis Cohen Brooklyn April 3, 2017

Four Cups, Four Matriarchs And of course, because of the four matriarchs, Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel and Leah! As per the renowned Rabbi Isaiah ben Avraham Ha-Levi Horowitz (d. 1630) in his work “Shenei Luchos Habris.” In addition, in the Talmud, Rav Avira connects the four cups' connection to the four matriarchs is in honor of the Jewish women who stood up for the Jewish people during the Egyptian exile and in whose merit our entire people were redeemed. (Sota 11) Reply

Anonymous Beachwood March 9, 2017

Sources Dear Rabbi,
Being familiar with your work I trust you completely. But I would like to study these ideas in their sources. Can you please share the sources? Reply

Anonymous March 18, 2015

so there is 4 sons and 4 mothers ... are there 4 husbands or was that just the 4 cups of wine ! BEST jewish joke 2015 Reply

Shakoor Paris, France June 18, 2014

"Cup" is mentioned more than 4 times in Genesis 40. Reply

Jose Vega Miami March 2, 2014

When was wine introduced as part of the Seder? Reply

Fivish London July 15, 2013

Must the wine be alcoholic? The blessing is for fruit of the vine. So is grape juice ok or must it be proper wine? Reply

Yehuda Shurpin for March 21, 2013

Re: four cups Many of the reasons given here, including perhaps the most famous one about the four cups corresponding to the four terms used to describe the redemption, are from the Jerusalem Talmud and Midrash. In fact, much of the present day Haggadah was around even before Talmudic times. Reply

Dr. Ismael Otero New Mexico March 21, 2013

Four Cups While all the meanings for the Four Cups are modern reflections and interpretations for devotional use, the real reason is that in ancient times wine was expensive and for Pesach our poor could not afford it. The Mishnah tell us that every table should have at least Four Cups of wine (liquid measure), even if it came from the "community fund". In Mishnaic times (200 C.E.) our modern Seder was not yet formed and the use and function of the Four Cups was different then today. Reply

nerdpocalypse havre de grace, md April 5, 2012

ALternatively, there's four cups of wine because the entire Seder is a mnemonic device based on fours.
put wine, water, vegetable, and matzoh at the four corners.
Wine, wash hands, dip veg, aficomen (main thing) then the ...FOUR tellings of passover, (seond cup...and restart the order)
wine, wash hands, vegetable, then matzoh (the main meal). third cup, other prayrers, then fourth cup. Reply

Rivka Freehold, NJ, USA March 17, 2012

Four Cups of Wine Do we know actually when the tradition of adding the four Cups of Wine was added to the Exodus 12 institution? Reply

Elizabeth via April 23, 2008

Four Cups of Wine was too much for me! My sincere appreciation for Mr. Silberberg's articles that are filled with biblical knowledge. It has helped me gain insight.

Although I drank four cups of Kosher red wine during Seder, it was too much for me all at once. On the other hand, I look at the generational faith that brought freedom from bondage and Seder accomplishes that freedom for me. I hope when we drink four cups of wine, we are looking forward for that freedom (by faith) that has kept us slaves to our inhibitions. Hope this Seder will be meaningful to all of you.

Have a blessed Pesach! Reply

Maria Holmden April 19, 2008

website This is one of the most helpful and accessible websites I have ever used. Thank you Reply

Menachem Posner April 16, 2008

RE: Four Cups, Four Blessings? Since each of the cups is a unique mitzvah, it commands its own blessing. (Magan Avraham 474) Reply

Anonymous April 13, 2008

Four Cups, Four Blessings? A question was asked of me and I do not have an adequate answer, perhaps you can help me out. At Passover we say the wine blessing four times. Is the reason these are not unnecessary blessings due to the specific locations in the Seder? Is there a minimum time that must pass between each wine blessing? Or, more generally, Through what events or time does single wine blessing last? Reply

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