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What WILL They Think of Next?

Sunday, 10 April 2011


Pesach is coming and a new product is on the market: Elijah Drinks.

Each year you fill Elijah’s cup, invite him to join your seder and drink some wine and then you wait. So far, though he may have quietly entered, he’s never once had a sip of the wine.

Until this year.

With your new ElijahDrinks Cup, Elijah will drink and everyone will see the wine disappear.

And if Elijah drinks this year, who knows, maybe next year we will be in Jerusalem.

Yes, for $29.95 (+ shipping & handling), you too can have this party trick your very own seder.

Slight problem, though. Elijah isn’t really meant to drink from the cup.

[Sorry to break the news this way.]

So if Elijah isn’t meant to drink from the cup, you ask, why is it called the “Cup of Elijah?”

The tradition of drinking several cups of wine draws its inspiration from the following passage in the book of Sh’mot (Exodus 6:6-7):

לָכֵן אֱמֹר לִבְנֵי-יִשְׂרָאֵל, אֲנִי יְהוָה, וְהוֹצֵאתִי אֶתְכֶם מִתַּחַת סִבְלֹת מִצְרַיִם, וְהִצַּלְתִּי אֶתְכֶם מֵעֲבֹדָתָם; וְגָאַלְתִּי אֶתְכֶם בִּזְרוֹעַ נְטוּיָה, וּבִשְׁפָטִים גְּדֹלִים

Wherefore say unto the children of Israel: I am the Eternal, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from their bondage, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm, and with great judgments;

וְלָקַחְתִּי אֶתְכֶם לִי לְעָם, וְהָיִיתִי לָכֶם לֵאלֹהִים; וִידַעְתֶּם, כִּי אֲנִי יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵיכֶם, הַמּוֹצִיא אֶתְכֶם, מִתַּחַת סִבְלוֹת מִצְרָיִם

And I will take you to Me for a people, and I will be to you a God; and you shall know that I am the Eternal your God, who brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians.

One cup of wine for each promise.

  1. I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians
  2. I will deliver you from their bondage
  3. I will redeem you with an outstretched arm
  4. I will take you to Me for a people

What about the fifth promise? The one in the next verse?

וְהֵבֵאתִי אֶתְכֶם, אֶל-הָאָרֶץ, אֲשֶׁר נָשָׂאתִי אֶת-יָדִי, לָתֵת אֹתָהּ לְאַבְרָהָם לְיִצְחָק וּלְיַעֲקֹב; וְנָתַתִּי אֹתָהּ לָכֶם מוֹרָשָׁה, אֲנִי יְהוָה

And I will bring you in unto the land, concerning which I lifted up My hand to give it to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob; and I will give it you for a heritage: I am the Eternal.’

Ah, that fifth promise.

Our Sages were uncertain as to whether that fifth promise of redemption ought to have a cup of win associated with it as it was a promise unfulfilled for the Exodus generation.

So how does Elijah fit into this interesting picture?

Teiku. [Say what?]

Teiku. An acronym of Tishbi Yitaretz Kushiyot U‘abayot that stands for “[Elijah] the Tishbite will answer all difficulties and questions” In other words, when Elijah, who is meant to portend the arrival of the Messiah, arrives, he will answer all questions. In this case, when Elijah comes, he will let us know if we are meant to drink a fifth cup of wine.

Which is the main problem with the Elijah Drinks cup. It turns out that Elijah isn’t meant to do the drinking. AND…there’s the whole matter of the Messiah. If Elijah seems to be present, it would be natural to assume that the Messianic Age isn’t far behind.

And what a HUGE letdown that would be.

[Sidenote: Teiku is also handy when the kids seem absolutely unable to arrive at a consensus.]


Don’t forget to checkout this week’s edition of Haveil Havalim over at Esser Agaroth. Be sure to tell him that Frume Sarah sent you.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Sunday, 10 April 2011 4:01 pm

    Ah Teiku, a favorite response.

    But, really, all we have here is another attempt to cash in on our celebration. Though at least one such cup should be purchased for a future museum of American Jewish Popular Culture.

    I suggest avoiding the “Ooh, look, Elijah’s drinking!” issue altogether. At our Seder we follow a different tradition using this text (found here ):

    [Pass the cup of Elijah around the table so that everyone can pour some of his or her wine into it.]

    We call this cup of wine Elijah’s cup-for the Prophet Elijah, the messenger of God, appointed to announce the era of the Messiah. Until now, this cup has stood empty.

    We do not look for a Messiah who will magically remake the world. When we have pooled our efforts and remade the world we will usher in the Messianic Era.

    This will be a time of abundance and peace, when our people, and all the peoples of our earth will live in security and plenty, and will be free to live in dignity with others. Just as we open the door for the messenger of the Messiah, so do we work for the Messianic Era.

    We sing of Elijah resolving to bring about the Messianic Era.

    Have a *Liberating* Pesach
    `//rite On!
    ,\\ark Hurvitz

    • Frume Sarah permalink*
      Tuesday, 12 April 2011 11:19 pm

      Yes, I like that approach as well. Thanks, Mark, for mentioning it.

      And yes, one of those cups ought to be reserved for the museum. Great idea 🙂

  2. Chavah permalink
    Tuesday, 12 April 2011 7:48 pm

    People keep telling me to learn something new for Pesach. What a pity that I don’t understand some of the basics! Thank you so much for clearing this one up. I thought Elijah’s cup was just a more depressing version of santa’s cookies and milk. How wrong I was! Chag Sameach!

    • Frume Sarah permalink*
      Tuesday, 12 April 2011 11:20 pm

      I would venture to say that many, MANY people think that Elijah is meant to be drinking from the cup. So you are in good company!

      A zisn Pesach to you too!!!


  1. “Teiku” Will Set You Free | The Edible Torah

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