Tonight we drink four glasses of wine, two cups before the meal and two glasses after the meal. Why four?

The traditional explanation for the four cups of wine relates to the four expressions of redemption describing the Jews’ exodus from Egypt in the Bible. 1. “I will take you out…” 2. “I will save you…” 3. “I will redeem you…” 4. “I will take you as a nation…” (Exodus 6:6-7). The rabbis who wrote the Mishnah (rabbinic literature documenting oral traditions) said seder participants should drink a glass of wine, a toast if you will, for each of these expressions.  

These four promises, in turn, have been interpreted as four stages on the path of liberation: becoming aware of oppression, opposing oppression, imagining alternatives, and accepting responsibility to act.

A toast: Wine is a symbol of joy and happiness and we are grateful to be able to gather with friends and family to observe this festival just as people have done for centuries.

Drink the first glass

haggadah Section: Kadesh