Four Cups of Wine at the Passover Meals

A symbolic element of the two Passover meals, known as Seders, is the four cups of wine. You might think that anyone who drinks four cups of wine at a meal is sure to be drunk or fall asleep before dessert. But this is not the case. The four cups of wine are well spaced out over a meal and discussion that lasts several hours. Kids drink grape juice. Wine, in Jewish tradition, whatever Jewish holiday in which it is included, is a symbol of joy. This is true on Passover, but the four cups of wine at the Passover Seder have additional symbolism and meanings.

God's Four Promises
In the Torah, there are four promises that God makes to the Jews involving freeing them from slavery. They are found in Exodus, 6:6-8. The promises are: 1) "I shall take you out…" 2) "I shall rescue you…" 3) "I shall redeem you…" and 4) "I shall bring you…" These four promises relate to the Jews' relationship to God - with God as remover from danger, rescuer, redeemer and guide.

Freedom From Four Decrees
Pharoah in Egypt had decreed four things against the Hebrew slaves, all of which the slaves were eventually freed from. They are: 1) slavery, 2) being ordered to throw all male infants into the Nile River, 3) Egyptians drowning Hebrew boys in the Nile, and 4) the slaves having to collect the straw themselves for making the bricks (making their slavery even harder).

Freedom From Four Exiles
Historically, Jews have been exiled from four countries. They are: 1) Egyptian, 2) Babylonian, 3) Greek, and 4) yet to come in a time of peace. This is a lesser-known traditional interpretation of the reason four cups of wine are used at the Passover Seder.

Add Your Own
In many modern Haggadah versions, there is a place for people to choose to dedicate one cup of wine to an admirable historical figure, a cause, a modern "plague" that we want to be freed from or a hope for the future. The modern interpretation gives an opportunity for discussion during the Passover meals, which is an important part of the Passover Seder.

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In preparing a Seder meal, certain symbolic and traditional items must be on the Seder Plate, to eat or show at the designated time during the Seder. Variations are acceptable and can make a traditional meal interesting and different, as long as you always avoid chametz.

No matter how many people will attend your Passover Seder, certain symbolic and traditional items are necessary to have on hand, ready for the designated time during the Seder. With the right preparation, Passover Seders can be a wonderful and meaningful time for everyone.

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A Seder plate is central to the Passover Seder. It sits as the centerpiece of the table, and is referred to a number of times during the Seder itself.

At the Passover meal, traditionally the meal is eaten and the story of Passover told in a certain order, called a Seder. The word "Seder" means "order" and refers to the steps of the order of the Seder meal itself.

The Passover Seder is designed with children in mind. The Four Questions, in fact, are specifically assigned to the youngest child present who is able to recite them. In history, children's questions were always encouraged because the Seder is meant to be for teaching children, and each other, the meaning of freedom and gratitude.

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