Elijah & Miriam

Haggadah Section: Hallel

The Fourth Cup of Wine

The Cup of Elijah, The Cup of Hope

Leader: Let us all fill our wine glasses.

{Picks up Elijah's cup for all to see.}

This is the cup of Elijah. According to tradition, we open the door to permit the possible entry of the prophet Elijah, who is, according to tradition, the herald of the Mashiach (Messiah) or (is there a difference?) an era of peace and freedom for all human beings.  If the weather is nice, we leave the door open; if not, then Elijah has to be quick about it. Wine waits for no man, even a prophet.

Reader: We, too, open the door to peace, knowing that Elijah's task is really our own. Only when we have made a world where nation shall not lift up sword against nation, where justice is universal, and where each person is free, will the age-old dream of peace be real.

{The door is opened.}

All sing: Eliyahu ha-navee, Eliyahu ha-Tish-bee Eliyahu, eliyahu, Eliyahu ha-Giladee Beem-hei-ra b'ya-mei-nu Yavo ei-leinu Eem ma-shee-ach ben David Eem ma-shee-ach ben David

Leader: We now bless our fourth cup of wine:

Baruch Atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech ha-olam, borei p’ree hagafen.

Miriam’s Cup

Reader: Although Miriam, a prophet and the sister of Moses, is never mentioned in the traditional Haggadah text, she is one of the central figures in the Exodus story.

According to Jewish feminist writer Tamara Cohen, the practice of filling a goblet with water to symbolize Miriam’s inclusion in the Seder originated in Boston in 1989. The idea resonated with many people and quickly spread.

Reader 2: The story has been told of a miraculous well of living water which had accompanied the Jewish people since the world was spoken into being. The well comes and goes, as it is needed, and as we remember, forget, and remember again how to call it to us. In the time of the exodus from Mitzrayim, Miriam called the well to her and stayed with the Jews as they wandered the desert. Upon Miriam’s death, the well again disappeared.

Reader 3: It is the women of our story who make its unfolding possible: Shifrah and Puah, the midwives who disobey Pharaoh's order to kill all newborn boys; Yocheved and Miriam, the mother and sister of Moses; Pharaoh's daughter who rescues Moses from the Nile. It is because of them that we are here tonight; it is because of them that we are able to celebrate our freedom.

{Whatever wine remains in the wine glasses is now emptied into a bowl. Water is then poured into everyone’s wine glass.}

Reader: We have escaped bondage and crossed the sea. We enter the arid land before us, made hesitant by generations of servitude; yet we are heady in our new freedom. We have thirsted for freedom, but now, in the desert, we thirst for water. Our Sages spoke of Miriam’s Well, created in the twilight of creation’s week. It now lies hidden in the Sea of Galilee, waiting to be restored to us. Its waters, we are told, taste of old wine and new wine, of milk and of honey. This is the well of the Ancestors of the world: the leaders of olden times searched for it; prophets and wizards of legend caused it to flow with their staves. But we have not been worthy of it. Now, as we begin a season of renewal, may cleansing, refreshing waters, reminiscent of Miriam’s well, recall for us a purity of purpose and help us focus on the tasks ahead to help bring freedom to all the peoples of the world.

{All drink the water from Miriam’s well.}


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