Traditionally each of the cups of wine are linked to one of the statements of redemption spoken by God in the Torah “I will bring you out”. “I will deliver you”. “I will redeem you”. "I will gather you to me.” (Exodus 6:6-7).
This cup of wine therefore corresponds to the first statement “I will bring you out of slavery” For women the first step to freedom was equality in the law. The struggle for this freedom began in the desert, when the daughters of Zelephachad demanded their right on inheritance. It continues today, as there are still countries in the world where women do not have the right to vote. This cup of wine is dedicated to all of those women, the daughters of Zelephachad, the Suffragettes and modern campaigners, who have fought for women’s equality in the law.
(On Shabbat begin here, and include the portions in parentheses:
וַיְהִי עֶרֶב וַיְהִי בֹקֶר יוֹם הַשִּׁשִּׁי. וַיְכֻלּוּ הַשָׁמַיִם וְהָאָרֶץ וְכָל צְבָאַָם. וַיְכַל אֱלֹקִים בַּיוֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִי מְלַאכְתּוֹ אֲשֶׁר עָשָׂה וַיִּשְׁבֹּת בַּיוֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִי מִכָּל מְלַאכְתּוֹ אֲשֶׁר עָשָׂה. וַיְבָרֶךְ אֱלֹהִים אֶת יוֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִי וַיְקַדֵּשׁ אוֹתוֹ כִּי בוֹ שָׁבַת מִכָּל מְלַאכְתּוֹ אֲשֶׁר בֶָּרָא אֱלֹהִים לַעֲשׂוֹת.)
סַבְרִי מָרָנָן וְרַבָּנָן וְרַבּוֹתַי
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יי אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם בּוֹרֵא פְּרִי הַגָפֶן.
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יי אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, אֲשֶׁר בָּחַר בָּנוּ מִכָּל עָם וְרוֹמְמָנוּ מִכָּל לָשׁוֹן וְקִדְּשָׁנוּ בְּמִצְוֹתָיו. וַתִּתֶּן לָנוּ יי אֱלֹהֵינוּ בְּאַהֲבָה (שַׁבָּתוֹת לִמְנוּחָה וּ) מוֹעֲדִים לְשִׂמְחָה, חַגִּים וּזְמַנִּים לְשָׂשׂוֹן, אֶת יוֹם (הַשַׁבָּת הַזֶה וְאֶת יוֹם) חַג הַמַצוֹת הַזֶה, זְמַן חֵרוּתֵנוּ (בְּאַהֲבָה), מִקְרָא קֹדֶשׁ, זֵכֶר לִיצִיאַת מִצְרָיִם. כִּי בָנוּ בָחַרְתָּ וְאוֹתָנוּ קִדַּשְׁתָּ מִכָּל הָעַמִּים, (וְשַׁבָּת) וּמוֹעֲדֵי קָדְשֶךָ (בְּאַהֲבָה וּבְרָצוֹן,) בְּשִׂמְחָה וּבְשָׂשׂוֹן הִנְחַלְתָּנוּ. בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יי, מְקַדֵּשׁ (הַשַׁבָּת וְ) יִשְׂרָאֵל וְהַזְּמַנִּים.
On Saturday night include:
[בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יי אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, בּוֹרֵא מְאוֹרֵי הָאֵשׁ. בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יי אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם הַמַבְדִיל בֵּין קֹדֶשׁ לְחֹל, ין אוֹר לְחשֶׁךְ, בֵּין יִשְׂרָאֵל לָעַמִּים, בֵּין יוֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִי לְשֵׁשֶׁת יְמֵי הַמַּעֲשֶׂה. בֵּין קְדֻשַּׁת שַׁבָּת לִקְדֻשַּׁת יוֹם טוֹב הִבְדַּלְתָּ, וְאֶת יוֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִי מִשֵּׁשֶׁת יְמֵי הַמַּעֲשֶׂה קִדַּשְׁתָּ. הִבְדַּלְתָּ וְקִדַּשְׁתָּ אֶת עַמְּךָ יִשְׂרָאֵל בִּקְדֻשָּׁתֶךָ. ,בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יי הַמַּבְדִיל בֵּין קֹדֶשׁ לְקֹדֶשׁ.]
“Rabbi Gamliel used to say that those who have not spoken of the following three things on Pesach has not fulfilled the obligation of the holiday. They are Pesach, Matza and Maror.”
Pesach – the Pascal Sacrifice. I am Pesach when I sacrifice my own needs for the needs of others. I am Pesach when I say yes, though I mean no. I am Pesach when I bleed each month.
Matza. I am Matza when I am broken and split into two. I am the sweetness of that first taste of Matza on seder night. I am the dryness of the Matza after 7 days of nothing else. I Matza when I am flat, and Matza when I am humble. I am Matza when I am filled with many contradictory characteristics. I am Matza the bread of affliction and Matza the bread of freedom.
Maror – I am Maror when I resent my place, and maror when I dwell on how I am wronged. I am maror when I cry and maror when I cause others to cry. I am maror when I slip into self pity and maror when my bitterness moves me to action. I am the sharpness and the wit of maror.
Many of us are familiar with the traditional items on a seder plate as symbols for the themes of Passover. But what if the seder rituals had been written in modern times? Would we still choose the same items to represent such personal ideas? Would YOUR Passover story rely upon different symbols? This seder plate does not have the traditional symbols you would expect. Instead, it leaves a space for the participants (YOU) to fill in the blanks with new objects of meaning.
Think about an object that represents Passover in your life. The object can be serious or silly, literal or poetic, but it should be something that helps you relate to the holiday. Consider the themes that are symbolized in the traditional seder plate such as:
How can your object add to our current understanding of the seder? Arrange your table’s seder plate to tell a story of Passover as you see it today. Add as much or as little as you’d like - its all up to you.
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Our final cup of wine is for the statement ‘And He gathered us to Him’ Today we gather together as women, seeking support, sustenance and inspiration for one another. Women have gathered together throughout the ages to be with one another in good times and in bad. The final cup is dedicated to women who give of themselves to other women and create a sisterhood.
Drink the Fourth cup of wine
At all other סדרים, our minds can be full of stressful anticipation for the night different from all other nights, whether we are surrounded by our nearest and dearest, our friends, or complete strangers. Tonight, may we enjoy a calming and empowering evening surrounded by our "sisters".
At all other סדרים, we can be concerned about food- whether we have eaten too much or too little, whether people find what we've prepared tasty, how we're going to survive the sheer quantities of matzot and our overall appearance. Tonight, may we all be free of food and body consciousness, anxieties and insecurities.
At all other סדרים, we read of the heroic struggles and soul-searching of our forebears as they left Egypt. Tonight, we will consider our personal acts of heroism as we struggle to break free from the shackles which imprison our respective souls, and celebrate the many Heroines in our daily lives.