We now fill the fourth and final cup of wine.
At the same time, we fill an additional cup and set it aside for the prophet Eliyahu (Elijah). This practice came about because their was a difference of opinion among the sages, as to whether there should be four or five cups at the seder. The compromise was to drink four, and leave a fifth—tradition says that Eliyahu will return at the seder prior to the coming of Messiah, and he will tell us whether to drink of the fifth cup.
We traditionally send one of the children to open a door to allow Eliyahu to enter while we sing the song “Eliyahu Hanavi”:
Eliyahu, Eliyahu, Eliyahu hagiladi
Bimheirah yameinu, yavo eileinu
Im Mashiach ben David.
Elijah the Prophet,
Elijah the Tishbite,
Elijah the Giladite
May he come speedily to us in our days
With Messiah the son of David.
We take notice at this time that we have set aside an empty chair and table place setting. These are for the prophet Eliyahu. He is the forerunner of the Messiah. We derive this from the passage in Malachi,
Remember the Law of Moses, My servant, which I commanded him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments. Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet Before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD. And he will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the earth with a curse.
We await the time when Eliyahu will return, answering all religious questions, and announcing the coming of the Messiah.
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