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Why Do We Drink Four Cups Of Wine On Passover?

Over the course of the Seder night, we drink four cups of wine in a ritual modeled after a Greek symposium. The four cups are meant to mirror the four phrases used in the Bible to describe God taking the Jews out of slavery. There has been a debate by the rabbis of the Talmud as to whether there should actually be five cups of wine, to mirror the fifth phrase that is used in the Bible. The debate hinges on whether that phrase, bringing the people into the Land of Israel, can actually be applied to the Exodus story, because it happened 40 years later. Since the debate remains unresolved, we pour a fifth cup of wine for Elijah the prophet, who is said to be the one who will settle all unresolved questions of Jewish law.

Contact Shira Hanau at [email protected]

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