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What is a Miriam’s Cup?
A Miriam’s Cup is a new ritual object that is placed on the seder table beside the Cup of Elijah. Miriam’s Cup is filled with water. It serves as a symbol of Miriam’s Well, which was the source of water for the Israelites in the desert. Putting a Miriam’s Cup on your table is a way of making your seder more inclusive.
It is also a way of drawing attention to the importance of Miriam and the other women of the Exodus story, women who have sometimes been overlooked but about whom our tradition says, "If it wasn’t for the righteousness of women of that generation we would not have been redeemed from Egypt" (Babylonian Talmud, Sotah 9b).
There are many legends about Miriam’s well. It is said to have been a magical source of water that followed the Israelites for 40 years because of the merit of Miriam. The waters of this well were said to be healing and sustaining. Thus Miriam’s Cup is a symbol of all that sustains us through our own journeys, while Elijah’s Cup is a symbol of a future Messianic time.
This is the Cup of Miriam, the cup of living waters. Let us remember the Exodus from Egypt. These are the living waters, God’s gift to Miriam, which gave new life to Israel as we struggled with ourselves in the wilderness. Blessed are You God, Who brings us from the narrows into the wilderness, sustains us with endless possibilities, and enables us to reach a new place."
Miriam's cup should be passed around the table allowing each participant to pour a little water form their glass into Miriam's cup. This symbolizes the support of notable Jewish women throughout our history which are often not spoken about during our times of remembrance.
Source 1: Babylonian Talmud
Context: The Babylonian Talmud is a collection of Jewish stories, laws and debates grounded in the Bible and other Jewish texts. It was compiled in the fifth century in modern-day Iraq, but many portions of it are much older. Here, the Talmud quotes and comments on a passage from a second-century text called the Mishnah. The Mishnah asks, “How long must a person live in a city to be...
By: Rabbi Ari Weiss As we approach Berach and reflect and give thanks to God for the meal we recently consumed, let us pause for a moment and reflect on what a Jewish meal is. Having a meal according to the Jewish tradition is much richer and more complex then just consuming food. As William H. Gass  has noted, as animals we desire only nourishment. However, in the process of eating, other things happen. The...
Use this piece before singing Hallel and think about what it means to transition from slavery to freedom.
Exodus and Liberation translate many different ways for different communities, religious groups, and individuals. Chief Tom Dostou of the Wabanaki Nation of Massachusetts offers the following prayer in an excerpt from a larger piece describing his journey across his ancestral homeland of “Turtle...
1. What do you consider your “promised land,” or heaven on earth?
2. In Hebrew, the word for Egypt is “Mitzraim,” which literally means “narrow place.” What is one way that you wish for our society to be more open?
3. Moses is considered one of the greatest leaders in our history — he is described as being smart, courageous, selfless and kind. Which of today’s leaders inspires you in a...
A HEBREW LESSON ON THE ROOT-WORD S-D-R
How is the festival meal of Passover different from the meal eaten at other holiday celebrations? For one thing, the Passover repast is consumed in the context of a scripted dramatic arrangement, a (seder), from the Hebrew verb (le-sadder), "to arrange."
There are, to be sure, similar arrangements in Jewish ritual and textual life. The daily prayer book, which...
As we celebrate the Jewish people’s biblical exodus from Egypt, we remember that there are 60 million displaced people around the world, people fleeing violence and persecution in search of a safe place to call home. We are currently in the midst of the worst refugee crisis since World War II.
HIAS, the world’s oldest, and only Jewish, refugee resettlement organization, helps refugees find ways to live in...
Imagine you are standing on the bank of the sea of reeds and you look forward and all you see is water. Suddenly, you look behind you and you see the Egyptian army quickly approaching you. The Israelites pled to Moses and Moses spoke to God. God told Moses, raise your staff over the water and I will split the seas. So Moses did, and nothing happened.
Suddenly a man named Nachshon started walking into the water. ...
Maimonides urged us to care for our bodies so that we would be free to concentrate our energies on God. In the modern world, one of the greatest threats to our physical health is mental stress. Stress causes insomnia, digestive problems, heart disease, autoimmune disorders, depression, memory impairment and countless other complications. As women, we are particularly vulnerable to the stress caused by multiple and...
More Clips from Rachel Schulties
Somewhere during the course of your Passover seder this year, ask one of these questions and see how your fellow attendees respond. You can also try typing the questions on small pieces of paper, folding them up, and asking everyone around the table to choose one, read it aloud, and respond. Depending on your audience, the responses may be either...
Do you have Ashkenazi roots? Do you trace your family back to the Mediterranean or Poland? If you do, you might have a Sephardic background. In either case, for most of us these terms have lost their significance in today's "melting pot" North American society. Nevertheless, there still seems to be some debate about what you may or may not eat on Passover. Let me see if I can clarify this for you (or complicate your...
Ask virtually anyone: “Was Jesus’ Last Supper a Passover seder?” and the response is likely to be “Of course!”
Yet, Jesus could not have known what a “seder” was, let alone have modeled his Last Supper after one. The elements of even the primitive seder originated decades after he died.
The Gospels date Jesus’ ministry to the period of Pontius Pilate, Roman prefect of Judea from...