The Cup of Elijah

According to tradition, Elijah (Eliyahu) is the prophet who will return as a harbinger of the coming of the Messiah. He is therefore invited as a guest to every Seder.

The fourth cup of wine is poured, as well as Elijah’s Cup.The front door is opened for Elijah while the following paragraph is recited:

Pour Your wrath upon the heathen nations who do not recognize You and upon the sinful kingdoms that do not invoke Your Name. For they have devoured Jacob and destroyed His dwelling place. Pour Your anger upon them and let Your fiery wrath overtake them. Pursue them in indignation and annihilate them from beneath the heavens of the L-rd

Sh’foach cha’maht’chah el ha’goyim ah’sher lo y’dah’ooh’chah, v’ahl mahm’la’choat ah’sher b’shim’chah lo kah’rah’ooh. Kee ah’chahl et Yaakov v’et nah’vay’hoo hay’sha’moo. Sh’foch ah’lay’hem zah’meh’chah vah’chah’roan ahph’chah ya’see’gaym. Tir’doaf b’ahf v’tah’sh’mee’daym mee’tah’chaht sh’may Ah’doh’nai.

A Night of Guarding:
The night of the Seder is known as Lel Shee’murim, the night of watching, because G-d protected the Israelites during the plague of the firstborn. By opening the door, we demonstrate that we believe that it is truly a Lel Shee’murim, and that we are not concerned that evil might be lurking on the other side of the door.

Why Elijah
Eliyahu HaNavi, Elijah the Prophet, lived in the 9th century B.C.E. in the Northern Kingdom of Israel. A fierce and fiery prophet, Eliyahu fought against the idolatry brought into the country by Queen Jezebel, who married Ahab, King of Israel. Tradition notes that just before the coming of the Messiah, Eliyahu will settle every doubtful case of Jewish law. Eliyahu’s cup of wine,
which is placed on the Pesach Seder table, is linked to a Talmudic dispute as to whether four or five cups of wine are to be used at the Seder celebration. Hence the extra cup, known as Eliyahu’s Cup, conveys the idea that the question could not be solved by the authorities of the Talmud and therefore must wait for Eliyahu’s decision.

Your Thoughts:

Eliyahu is also invited to join every brit milah (circumcision) celebration. Can you think of what ties these two occasions together?

haggadah Section: Introduction
Source: National Jewish Outreach Program's Beginners' Haggadah