The Fifth Cup

BY RABBI YOSEF ZVI RIMON

On Seder night, we mention the four verbs of redemption – “I will take you out… I will save you… I will redeem you… I will take you” – and drink four glasses of wine corresponding to them. However, in the verses of the Torah there are actually five verbs of redemption:

Therefore, tell the children of Israel that I am G-d, and I will take you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will save you from their labor, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments. And I will take you to Me as a people, and… I will bring you to the land… (Shemot 6:6–8)

The significance of the fifth verb is found in Sifri (Devarim 301), which interprets the last verse as referring to the Temple and the Land of Israel: 

“He brought us to this place” – this refers to the Temple; “He gave us this land” – this refers to the Land of Israel. Why did it mention the Temple before the Land of Israel? To teach us that as a reward for coming to this place He gave us this Land.

Indeed, there is a dispute among the Rishonim whether there are five verbs of redemption or only four. According to Ra’avad (Temim De’im 30), there are five, and we should therefore drink a fifth glass of wine, corresponding to “I will bring you” (nowadays, the fifth glass of wine is poured but not drunk, and it is generally referred to as “the glass of Eliyahu”).

However, if that is the case, why don’t we also mention the fifth verb of “I will bring you” in the haggadah?

There are a number of explanations for this. One logical explanation is to say that the haggadah only deals with matters that already occurred in the past, leaving Egypt and entering under the wings of the Divine Presence, to the exclusion of future events. Also, though it is true that G-d brought us to the Land of Israel, we ultimately were sent into exile, and so this verb is not mentioned.

According to this, there is reason in our days to thank G-d for our present reality, as we have been given the privilege of returning to our Land due to G-d’s great kindness to us. The verse of “I will bring you into the Land” has been fulfilled! However, it is also possible that as the verse also refers to the Temple, we should not mention the fifth verse until the Temple itself is rebuilt.

As mentioned, there are those who hold that there are only four verbs, and according to them we understand why this verse is not added. Netziv explains that there are indeed five verbs of redemption, but the fifth one is not “I will bring you”, but “you will know that I am the L-rd” (Shemot 6:7). This knowledge has nothing to do with actions of G-d, but with the knowledge of the Nation of Israel, and that may be the reason it is not expounded in the haggadah.

Despite this, there are those who argue that today in the Land of Israel one must drink five glasses of wine, to correspond to all five expressions, including “I will bring you”. This was the view of Rabbi Menachem Mendel Kasher: 

In our times, when we have been privileged to see G-d’s kindness and His rescue of us… and the fulfillment of the promise of “I will bring you to the Land”, it is appropriate to perform the most admirable commandment of drinking a fifth glass of wine, and to recite the Great Hallel over it, “Who remembered us in our lowliness… and delivered us from our oppressors”, and to thank G-d for all the miracles and wonders. (Haggadat Pesach Eretz Yisraelit, p.179 and thereafter)

In practice, the fifth cup is generally not drunk, but it is only poured. So too, most people do not recite the fifth verse, though one who wishes to say it may do so. Either way, we have reason to thank G-d, not only for the Exodus from Egypt, and not only because we survived our exile, but also for all the good that G-d has heaped upon us in the Land of Israel, the beginning of the flowering of our redemption, and in the process to hope and pray that the redemption will be completed speedily, in our days.

This essay was originally printed in Rabbi Yosef Zvi Rimon’s Shirat Miriam: Haggadah Mimekorah.

 

Rabbi Yosef Zvi Rimon is Head of Mizrachi’s Educational Advisory Board and Rabbinic Council. He serves as the Rabbi of the Gush Etzion Regional Council and is the Founder and Chairman of Sulamot.

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