A decade after the introduction of an orange on the seder plate, the ritual of Miriam’s Cup emerged from a Rosh Chodesh group in Boston as another way to honor women during the seder. Miriam’s Cup builds upon the message of the orange, transforming our seder into an empowering and inclusive experience.
We add a cup of water next to our Seder plate, to draw 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).
Water played a role in Miriam’s life from the first time we meet her, watching over the infant Moses on the Nile, through her triumphant crossing of the Red Sea. The rabbis attribute to Miriam the well that traveled with the Israelites throughout their wandering in the desert. In the Book of Numbers, the well dries up immediately following Miriam’s death. She led the Israelites in song at the shores of the Red Sea, transforming what should have been a terrifying escape into a celebration of freedom.
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.
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