The fourth ceremonial cup of wine poured during the family Seder dinner on Passover is left untouched in honour of Elijah, who, according to tradition, will arrive one day as an unknown guest to herald the advent of the Messiah. During the Seder dinner, biblical verses are read while the door is briefly opened to welcome Elijah, who, it is further said, will resolve all controversial questions connected with the Law. In this way the Seder dinner not only commemorates the historical redemption from Egyptian bondage of the Jewish people but also calls to mind their future redemption when Elijah and the Messiah shall appear.
A Midrash teaches us that a miraculous well accompanied the Hebrews throughout their journey in the desert, given by God because of the merit of Miriam, the prophetess. Miriam’s optimism and faith also was a spiritual oasis, giving the Hebrews the confidence to overcome the hardships of the Exodus.
Like Miriam, Jewish women in all generations have been essential for the continuity of our people. As keepers of traditions, women passed down songs and stories, rituals and recipes, from mother to daughter, from generation to generation. Let us each fill the cup of Miriam with water from our own glasses, we may remember the important role women play in both Judaism and the world.
זאת כּוֹס ִמריָם, כּוֹס ַמיִם ַחיִּים זֵכר ִליציאַת ִמצריִם
Zot kos Miryam, cos mayim chayim zecher litziat Mitzrayim.
This is the cup of Miriam, the cup of living waters, a reminder of the Exodus from Egypt.
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