Miriam's Cup Ritual at the Family Seder

Haggadah Section: Commentary / Readings

Miriam's Cup Ritual in the Family Seder (http://www.miriamscup.com/RitualPrint.htm)  

Filling Miriam's Cup follows the second cup of wine, before washing the hands. Raise the empty goblet and say:  “Miriam's cup is filled with water, rather than wine. I invite women of all generations at our seder table to fill Miriam's cup with water from their own glasses.”  

Pass Miriam's cup around the table(s); explain the significance of filling Miriam's cup with water: A Midrash teaches us that a miraculous well accompanied the Hebrews throughout their journey in the desert, providing them with water. This well was given by G-d to Miriam, the prophetess, to honor her bravery and devotion to the Jewish people. Both Miriam and her well were spiritual oases in the desert, sources of sustenance and healing. Her words of comfort gave the Hebrews the faith and confidence to overcome the hardships of the Exodus.

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 passed down songs and stories, rituals and recipes, from mother to daughter, from generation to generation. Let us each fill the cup of Miriam with water from our own glasses, so that our daughters may continue to draw from the strength and wisdom of our heritage.  

When Miriam's cup is filled, raise the goblet and say: 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.  

Continue by reciting this prayer: "You abound in blessings, G-d, creator of the universe, Who sustains us with living water. May we, like the children of Israel leaving Egypt, be guarded and nurtured and kept alive in the wilderness, and may You give us wisdom to understand that the journey itself holds the promise of redemption. AMEN." (from Susan Schnur)   Next, tell the story of a Jewish woman you admire. Begin by saying:  Each Passover, we dedicate Miriam's cup to a Jewish woman who has made important contributions in achieving equality and freedom for others. This year, we honor….  

Dancing in honor of the prophetess Miriam follows the rituals for the prophet Elijah after the meal. Lift Miriam's cup and say: Miriam's life is a contrast to the life of Elijah, and both teach us important lessons. Elijah was a hermit, who spent part of his life alone in the desert. He was a visionary and prophet, often very critical of the Jewish people, and focused on the messianic era. On the other hand, Miriam lived among her people in the desert, following the path of hesed, or loving-kindness. She constantly comforted the Israelites throughout their long journey, encouraging them when they lost faith. Therefore, Elijah's cup is a symbol of future messianic redemption, while Miriam's cup is a symbol of hope and renewal in the present life. We must achieve balance in our own lives, not only preparing our souls for redemption, but rejuvenating our souls in the present. Thus, we need both Elijah's cup and Miriam's cup at our seder table.  

Sing and dance with tambourines. First hold up a tambourine and say (from Exodus 15:20-21):  "And Miriam the prophetess, took a timbrel in her hand; and all the women went out after her, with timbrels and with dances. And Miriam sang unto them, Sing ye to the Lord, for He is highly exalted; The horse and his rider hath He thrown into the sea." As Miriam once led the women of Israel in song and dance to praise G-d for the miracle of splitting the Red Sea, so we now rejoice and celebrate the freedom of the Jewish people today. 

Source:  
Foundation for Family Education, Inc.

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