By placing a cup of wine on the seder table and opening the door after our meal, we recognize the legend that the prophet Elijah visits every seder table to announce the coming of redemption. The cup of Elijah is a hope that the world, now broken, will one day be healed. By contrast to Elijah who lived as a hermit, Miriam lived among the Hebrew people as a healer and a source of inspiration.
Legend says that fresh water miraculously followed Miriam as theHebrews traveled through the desert, providing them with sustenance. God gave this gift to Miriam, the prophetess, to honor her bravery and devotion to the Jewish people.Where Elijah represents the movement of time towards redemption, Miriam represents ongoing healing and renewal. If Elijah is the mountain, Miriam is the Sea. Let us open the door for Elijah and sing:
Eliyahu Hanavi, Eliyahu hatishbi, Eliyahu, Eliyahu, Eliyahu hagiladi.
Bimheirah b'yamenu, yavo aylenu, Im Mashiach ben-David, Im Mashiach ben-David
Elijah the prophet, the returning man of Gilad: return to us speedily, in our days with the messiah, son of David.
We fill Miriam's cup with water to honor her role in ensuring the survival of the Jewish people. Like Miriam, Jewish women in all generations have been essential for the continuity of our people. As keepers of traditions in the home, women sustained their families and kept rituals and recipes alive in songs and stories from mother to daughter, from generation to generation.We place Miriam's cup on our Seder table to honor the important role of Jewish women in our tradition and history, whose stories have been too sparingly told. For Miriam we lift our water glasses and say:
Zot be'er Miriam kos mayim chayam.
This is the well of Miriam, the cup of living waters.
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