Traditionally, the four cups of wine drunk on Pesach correspond to the four promises god supposedly made to the Israelites: I will bring you out, I will deliver you, I will redeem you, and I will take you to be my people (Exodus 6:6-7). We will accord each cup a more urgent significance, using each as a reminder of a different kind of slavery that persists in the world today, and commemorating those who are still not free.
The first cup: Physical Freedom
Approximately 27 million people are enslaved today and 800,000 people are trafficked across international borders each year. Fifty percent of those victims are children, and 80% are women and girls. As we drink this first glass of wine, we remind ourselves that many are still not physically free.
The second cup: Spritual Freedom
Religious freedom and freedom of belief remain distant dreams for many communities around the world. We think of the Rohingya of Myanmar, the Copts of Egypt, the Tibetan Buddhists and Muslim communities in Islamophobic Europe, and pray that they should become free to practice their way of life.
The third cup: Intellectual Freedom
As we drink this cup of wine, we remind ourselves of the intellectual freedom that we enjoy in the new South Africa, and pledge to protect it. At the same time, we are mindful of all those who do not enjoy the same freedom; those living under theocracy and dictatorship, but also those whose families and communities suppress free thought.We hope that our own Jewish community will one day embrace the freedoms of opinion and expression, and we call upon God to enlighten His people in that regard.
The fourth cup: Sexual and Identity Freedoms
As we drink this final glass of wine, we acknowledge the continuing struggle for the freedom of all people to be who they are. We lament the oppression of sexual minorities and the discrimination levelled against communities based solely on sexual orientation. In particular, we hope for change in Uganda and other African nations whose attitude towards freedom remains mired in archaic conservatism.
The fourth cup
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