3. Hallel (songs of praise)
Four Cups of Wine:
The Four Cups of the Seder are structurally connected to the four verbal performances this evening:
(4) Hallel, completing the festival Psalms
(3) Birkat HaMazon, completing the Pesach meal; and
(2) Maggid, the storytelling
(1) Kiddush, sanctifying the holiday
Four Matriarchs of Israel:
Two 16th C. mystic rabbis identify the Four Cups with the Four Matriarchs of Israel. The Maharal of Prague (famous for the legend of Golem) and Rav Isaiah Horowitz of Tsfat explain:
(4) The Cup of Hallel (Praise) is for Leah who came to realize that the pursuit of the impossible, Jacob's love, must give way to appreciation of what one has. When her fourth child was born, Judah, she praised God: " This time I will thank God " (Genesis 29:35).
(3) The Cup of the Blessing after Eating represents Rachel whose son Joseph provided the whole family of Jacob with bread in a time of great famine.
(2) The Cup of Maggid is for Rebecca who knew how to mother both Esav and Jacob, two opposed natures.
(1) The Cup of Kiddush stands for Sarah who was the mother of a community of converts, believers by choice.
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