Pesach a Time of the Plague

Rabbinical Assembly Kashrut Subcommittee Recommendations Pesach 5780

Matzah - One is obligated to avoid hametz throughout Passover, but the obligation to eat matzah is limited to fulfilling the rituals of the first/second night seder alone. Therefore, communities should ensure that each home has at least enough matzah for each person to fulfill the obligation of אכילת מצה, eating matzah, for [each] seder. Think, basically, about one piece of matzah per person, per seder.

Karpas - Can be any vegetable. [In Israel, boiled potato is a common food for karpas]

Maror - If horseradish is not available, people are encouraged to find other vegetables or fruits that can bring a tear to the eye if consumed raw: hot peppers, fresh ginger, mustard greens, raw lemon. In Israel, romaine lettuce is commonly used as maror.

Egg and Roasted Shankbone on Seder Plate -- A roasted beet and rice (if consuming kitniyot) in place of the shankbone and egg.(Pesahim 114b)


The general rule is, places must be well-searched and specifically cleaned for hametz only if it’s a place for which and in which hametz is normally consumed and cooked. Furthermore, the prohibition of owning & seeing hametz applies specifically to amounts of pure hametz that is at least the size of an olive (k’zayyit). This is your yearly reminder that dirt is not hametz.

Sale of Hametz:

We have set-up an online form for those in North America to appoint Rabbi Mordy Schwartz as the agent for sale of hametz.

Purchasing of Food:

Hierarchy of purchasing: While the CJLS formally permitted Ashkenazim (who choose) to consume kitniyot in 2015, due to the unprecedented disruptions in the food supply, the CJLS encourages everyone to consider putting aside the Ashkenazic custom of eschewing legumes (beans and lentils) corn and rice, if only for Passover 5780 (2020).

Eat Kitniyot!

It is important to note that many products that are plain, unflavored dairy products (like milk, yogurt, cottage cheese, and hard cheeses), frozen fruits and vegetables, pure fruit juice, salt, pepper, and other ground spices; pure white sugar; quinoa, packaged legumes, and rice can be purchased without a K for Pesach symbol before Passover as a matter of course.

Zoom Seder

The questions of electronics on Shabbat and Yom tov are extremely complex, but we offer this guidance, specific to this year, when multi-family in-person seder gatherings are truly unsafe, and may be forbidden by local law, and many individuals will be isolated from family and community. Furthermore, there are specific leniencies in the laws of Shabbat and yom tov related to one who may be at risk of a life-threatening illness, and many in our community fall into that category this year. As such, this guidance only applies to the current situation and may not apply in future years.

Ideally, the video option should be accessed in a way that does not involve direct interaction with an electronic device, either by leaving the conference active for the duration of use, or using the equivalent of a timer to activate the conference in each location. In a later update we will list different videoconferencing options and their known capabilities to do so. Doing so is permitted within the bounds of previous decisions of the CJLS, and is certainly viable for first seder.

(Rabbi Joshua Heller Chair of the CJLS Rites and Rituals Subcomittee)

14 Sephardic Orthodox rabbis say Passover Seder can be held via videoconference

In what may be one of the boldest rulings issued on technology in recent years, several Sephardic Orthodox rabbis in Israel have declared that families may conduct their shared Seder over videoconference. While Orthodox religious law normally bans the use of electronic devices on Shabbat and festivals, the ruling, signed by 14 rabbis, permits the use of software to connect the elderly to their families on the first night of Passover... The rabbis addressed the problems by referring to previous rulings by Sephardic and North African religious authorities that allowed using electrical devices on similar occasions, and by specifying that the devices needed to be turned on before the start of the holiday and left on throughout. They made clear that during the present crisis, using the software helped fulfill a mitzvah (commandment) for families to celebrate the festival together. The rabbis emphasized that “it’s clear to everyone that the ruling is for a time of emergency only,” and that young peoples’ connections to their grandparents are an essential part of many Seders.

Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi David Lau on Wednesday morning criticized the ruling, branding it “irresponsible, beyond ridiculous.”nSpeaking with Army Radio, Lau claimed the decision stemmed from a “lack of minimal understanding of the meaning of halachic ruling,” adding that it was a “shame that people issue rulings and misdirect the public.” Rabbi David Stav, who heads the modern Orthodox Tzohar rabbinic organization, took issue with the ruling, saying that the issue shouldn’t be decided with a blanket decision but rather on a case-by-case basis. “From the practical perspective, a decision permitting this type of computer use is problematic because the broadcast is likely to be cut off at some point and then people will be very tempted to fix the computer, which would not be permitted, he told The Times of Israel”

However, Seth Farber, a rabbi who heads the modern Orthodox Itim organization, which pressures the rabbinate to be more responsive to public needs, told The Times of Israel: “This shows halachic leadership in extraordinary times and demonstrates that halacha sanctifies life.”

Offered in seriousness with a dash of questionable humorn without which we’ll never get through this)

by Rabbi Emeritus Peter Schweitzer

The City Congregation for Humanistic Judaism, New York City
edited by Myrna Baron, who was sitting over ten feet away from me

An Updated Set of Four Questions

Why on this night are we teleconferencing our Seder that we used to enjoy in person?
Why on this night do we not wash our hands once, nor twice, but over and over throughout the meal?
Why on this night do we leave not just an empty chair for Elijah, but at least six feet between everyone at the table?
Why on this night are the youngest among us the least vulnerable?
And a fifth question:
Why on this night are we texting with the quarantined family member in the next room?

Ten Pandemic-Related Afflictions

* Non-belief in pandemics
* Shortage of supplies that could have been stockpiled
* Government ineptness and lack of leadership
* Delay in ramping up emergency efforts
* Blaming other countries for the source of the virus
* Blaming other administrations for this administration's dropping the ball and not funding robust preparations for the next crisis
* Allowing large and small gatherings to gather for too long
* Horders and greedy opportunists trying to make a buck on rare Purell and masks
* Heartless Politicians who withhold help for those in need
* Pandemic-Minimizing Politicians led by a Narcissistic Pathological Liar

Mah Nishtanah

On all other Passovers we can get together with friends and family, but this Passover we must be physically distanced from one another..

On all other Passovers the singing is cacophonous, but on this Passover we realize singing together over Zoom is nearly impossible.

On all other Passovers, Uncle Harold insists there is only one right way to do the seder, but on this Passover no one knows what to do — not even Uncle Harold.

On all other Passovers we try to imagine what it would be like to be alone in our homes hoping the angel of death will pass over us, but on this Passover we know exactly what that feels like.

(כב) וּלְקַחְתֶּ֞ם אֲגֻדַּ֣ת אֵז֗וֹב וּטְבַלְתֶּם֮ בַּדָּ֣ם אֲשֶׁר־בַּסַּף֒ וְהִגַּעְתֶּ֤ם אֶל־הַמַּשְׁקוֹף֙ וְאֶל־שְׁתֵּ֣י הַמְּזוּזֹ֔ת מִן־הַדָּ֖ם אֲשֶׁ֣ר בַּסָּ֑ף וְאַתֶּ֗ם לֹ֥א תֵצְא֛וּ אִ֥ישׁ מִפֶּֽתַח־בֵּית֖וֹ עַד־בֹּֽקֶר׃ (כג) וְעָבַ֣ר יי לִנְגֹּ֣ף אֶת־מִצְרַיִם֒ וְרָאָ֤ה אֶת־הַדָּם֙ עַל־הַמַּשְׁק֔וֹף וְעַ֖ל שְׁתֵּ֣י הַמְּזוּזֹ֑ת וּפָסַ֤ח יי עַל־הַפֶּ֔תַח וְלֹ֤א יִתֵּן֙ הַמַּשְׁחִ֔ית לָבֹ֥א אֶל־בָּתֵּיכֶ֖ם לִנְגֹּֽף׃ (כד) וּשְׁמַרְתֶּ֖ם אֶת־הַדָּבָ֣ר הַזֶּ֑ה לְחָק־לְךָ֥ וּלְבָנֶ֖יךָ עַד־עוֹלָֽם׃ (כה) וְהָיָ֞ה כִּֽי־תָבֹ֣אוּ אֶל־הָאָ֗רֶץ אֲשֶׁ֨ר יִתֵּ֧ן יי לָכֶ֖ם כַּאֲשֶׁ֣ר דִּבֵּ֑ר וּשְׁמַרְתֶּ֖ם אֶת־הָעֲבֹדָ֥ה הַזֹּֽאת׃ (כו) וְהָיָ֕ה כִּֽי־יֹאמְר֥וּ אֲלֵיכֶ֖ם בְּנֵיכֶ֑ם מָ֛ה הָעֲבֹדָ֥ה הַזֹּ֖את לָכֶֽם׃ (כז) וַאֲמַרְתֶּ֡ם זֶֽבַח־פֶּ֨סַח ה֜וּא לַֽיי אֲשֶׁ֣ר פָּ֠סַח עַל־בָּתֵּ֤י בְנֵֽי־יִשְׂרָאֵל֙ בְּמִצְרַ֔יִם בְּנָגְפּ֥וֹ אֶת־מִצְרַ֖יִם וְאֶת־בָּתֵּ֣ינוּ הִצִּ֑יל וַיִּקֹּ֥ד הָעָ֖ם וַיִּֽשְׁתַּחֲוּֽוּ׃

(22) Take a bunch of hyssop, dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and apply some of the blood that is in the basin to the lintel and to the two doorposts. None of you shall go outside the door of his house until morning. (23) For when the LORD goes through to smite the Egyptians, He will see the blood on the lintel and the two doorposts, and the LORD will pass over the door and not let the Destroyer enter and smite your home. (24) “You shall observe this as an institution for all time, for you and for your descendants. (25) And when you enter the land that the LORD will give you, as He has promised, you shall observe this rite. (26) And when your children ask you, ‘What do you mean by this rite?’ (27) you shall say, ‘It is the passover sacrifice to the LORD, because He passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt when He smote the Egyptians, but saved our houses.’” The people then bowed low in homage.

Talmud Bava Kama 60a-b

Rav Yosef taught a baraita: What is the meaning of that which is written with regard to the plague of the firstborn: “And none of you shall go out of the opening of his house until the morning” (Exodus 12:22)? If the plague was not decreed upon the Jewish people, why were they not permitted to leave their homes? Once permission is granted to the destroyer to kill, it does not distinguish between the righteous and the wicked. And not only that, but it begins with the righteous first, as it is stated in the verse: “And will cut off from you the righteous and the wicked” (Ezekiel 21:8), where mention of the righteous precedes the wicked...

§ The Sages taught: If there is plague in the city, gather your feet, i.e., limit the time you spend out of the house, as it is stated in the verse: “And none of you shall go out of the opening of his house until the morning.” And it says in another verse: “Come, my people, enter into your chambers, and shut your doors behind you; hide yourself for a little moment, until the anger has passed by” (Isaiah 26:20). And it says: “Outside the sword will bereave, and in the chambers terror” (Deuteronomy 32:25).

Netivot Shalom v.2 p. 235

Since Passover is the holiday of faith, necessarily the primary mitzvah of the night is telling the story of the Exodus and “telling your child”, whose very essence is rooting faith. And that is the idea that telling at length is more praiseworthy, even if we are all wise, etc, it is is mitzvah for us to talk about the exodus, which is something that we haven’t seen with other commandments. Usually once the obligation is fulfilled, there is no point in carrying on. However, since Hag haPesach is Hag haEmuna, the holiday of faith, and layl haseder is the night of Divine Revelation—it is Rosh HaShannah LeEmuna from which faith imbues the heart of the Jew for the entirety of the year. And from the clarity of the faith of this night, we merit to live a life of faith all year. And therefore, we are commanded to tell about the exodus—because it is the power of storytelling to root faith in our hearts for all year. As in the words of Our teacher the holy saba Malkovitch, (may his merit protect us), on the verse “I have faith because I speak”, that by way of repeating faith orally, it becomes rooted in our hearts. And if this is the case all year long, how much the more so on this night which is the fountain which bestows faith for year, that by way of speaking about the exodus we will root our faith for all year.

Rabbi Michael Rothbaum

When the Temple stood in Jerusalem, Passover was a pilgrimage. Jews came from all over the world to the holy city, commemorating the festival of liberation with sacrifices offered by our priests on the sacred altar. But the altar is gone, destroyed by the Romans in 70 CE, along with the rest of the Temple.

It wasn’t the first time. The Babylonians destroyed the original temple in Jerusalem in 586 BCE. The destruction is commemorated in the book of Eicha, known to English readers as Lamentations. It recounts the desolation of Jerusalem in terms that are painfully resonant. “Zion’s roads are in mourning,” bemoans the author. “Empty of festival pilgrims, all her gates are deserted.”

But after that catastrophe, like so many others in our history, the Jews regrouped. We reinvented Passover, focusing it on a home ritual we now call a Seder. The basic outline of today’s Seder can be found in the Roman-era rabbinic text called the Mishnah. A lot of what we know is there: matzah, bitter herbs, four cups of wine, four questions, the afikomen. It’s remarkable how much of how we celebrate Passover stems from that text, crafted in the shadow of the catastrophe of the Temple’s destruction.

In a time of modern crisis, it tells us a lot about who we are as Jews. For two millennia, Jews have recreated our entire tradition to be portable in an inhospitable world of exile. This year, Passover will feel very different than it has in the past. But, in a sense, Jews are born for moments like this. We have survived catastrophe in the past. And not just survived – ultimately, we thrived.

Last Seder in Warsaw

In April the ghetto was rife with rumors of an upcoming deportation. Despite this, the Jews of the ghetto continued with their preparations for Passover. Some even baked matzot, obtained wine, and koshered their dishes in preparation for the holiday. On the 18th of April 1943, news arrived that the Germans had stationed an army in Warsaw and it seemed that the ghetto was to be liquidated. The members of the underground resistance movements went into high alert. That night the ghetto was surrounded. Many people had already heard of this from the reports of lookouts posted as a matter of course on the rooftops.

No one slept that night. Everybody spent the time packing the most necessary articles, linen, bedding, food and taking it down to the bunkers. The moon was full and the night was unusually bright. There was more movement in the courtyards and streets than by day.Tuvia Borzykowski, Between Tumbling Walls, p.48

It was Passover eve, 1943, and we had arranged everything in the house in preparation for the holiday. We even had Matzot (unleavened bread), everything. We had made the beds… The policeman who lived with us always told us everything that was going to happen… He told us, "You should know that the ghetto is surrounded – with Ukrainians. Tonight will not be a good night." He had heard this. We took all our belongings and went into the bunker. Why wait? … So we took what we still had at home, whatever food we had, everything, and went down into the bunker. And waited.Testimony of Shoshana Baharir, Yad Vashem Archive, O.3/5469

On the 19th of April 1943, Passover eve, the Germans entered the ghetto. Tuvia Borzykowski, a member of the Jewish Fighting Organization, describes the Seder in Rabbi Eliezer Meisel's apartment:

Amidst this destruction, the table in the center of the room looked incongruous with glasses filled with wine, with the family seated around, the rabbi reading the Haggadah. His reading was punctuated by explosions and the rattling of machine-guns; the faces of the family around the table were lit by the red light from the burning buildings nearby.Tuvia Borzykowski, Between Tumbling Walls, p.57

Hundreds to gather in Warsaw for Seder on anniversary of uprising

A massive Passover Seder will be held near the site of the Warsaw Ghetto this week, exactly 76 years after the uprising that followed a Nazi attempt to liquidate the ghetto in honor of Hitler's birthday, April 20.

According to Chabad, for the first time since the Warsaw ghetto was liquidated during World War II – and all its residents killed or deported to death camps – one hundred Diaspora Jewish families from Israel, Europe and the US will celebrate a Seder there, along with Chief Rabbi of Chabad-Poland Shalom Ber Stambler and his family, and numerous other Jewish polish families.

(ח) וְהִגַּדְתָּ֣ לְבִנְךָ֔ בַּיּ֥וֹם הַה֖וּא לֵאמֹ֑ר בַּעֲב֣וּר זֶ֗ה עָשָׂ֤ה יי לִ֔י בְּצֵאתִ֖י מִמִּצְרָֽיִם׃

(8) And thou shalt tell thy son in that day, saying: It is because of that which the YHVH did for me when I came forth out of Egypt.

(פז) בְּכָל-דּוֹר וָדוֹר חַיָּב אָדָם לִרְאוֹת אֶת-עַצְמוֹ כְּאִלּוּ הוּא יָצָא מִמִּצְרַיִם, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: וְהִגַּדְתָּ לְבִנְךָ בַּיּוֹם הַהוּא לֵאמֹר, בַּעֲבוּר זֶה עָשָׂה יי לִי בְּצֵאתִי מִמִּצְרַיִם. לֹא אֶת-אֲבוֹתֵינוּ בִּלְבָד גָּאַל הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא, אֶלָּא אַף אוֹתָנוּ גָּאַל עִמָּהֶם, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: וְאוֹתָנוּ הוֹצִיא מִשָּׁם, לְמַעַן הָבִיא אוֹתָנוּ, לָתֶת לָנוּ אֶת-הָאָרֶץ אֲשֶׁר נִשָׁבַּע לַאֲבֹתֵינוּ.

(83) In each and every generation, a person is obligated to see himself as if he left Egypt, as it is stated (Exodus 13:8); "For the sake of this, did the Lord do [this] for me in my going out of Egypt." Not only our ancestors did the Holy One, blessed be He, redeem, but rather also us [together] with them did he redeem, as it is stated (Deuteronomy 6:23); "And He took us out from there, in order to bring us in, to give us the land which He swore unto our fathers."

עולת ראיה / חלק ב / הגדה של פסח

בכל דור ודור חיב אדם לראות את עצמו כאילו הוא יצא ממצרים. בכח הזרע הנטוי', להוציא אל הפועל את רוממות המעלה מעט מעט בכל דור ודור, חיב כל אחד להשלים, להשיג ולהרגיש את חלקו בשלמות המעלה, השייך לערכו ולדורו, המגיע לו מיציאת מצרים.

Olat Ra'ayah/ Part II / Haggadah

"In every generation, a person…"

Through the strength of the 'outstretched arm' to make manifest the elevation (romemut) little-by-little in every generation, we are each obligated to complete, to perceive, to sense our portion (chelek) in the higher perfection which is unique and appropriate to that time and value (sourced in the original leaving of Egypt)

(ד) וְכִ֥י תַקְרִ֛ב קָרְבַּ֥ן מִנְחָ֖ה מַאֲפֵ֣ה תַנּ֑וּר סֹ֣לֶת חַלּ֤וֹת מַצֹּת֙ בְּלוּלֹ֣ת בַּשֶּׁ֔מֶן וּרְקִיקֵ֥י מַצּ֖וֹת מְשֻׁחִ֥ים בַּשָּֽׁמֶן׃ (ס)

(4) When you present an offering of meal baked in the oven, [it shall be of] choice flour: (matzah) unleavened cakes with oil mixed in, or unleavened wafers spread with oil.

(יא) כָּל־הַמִּנְחָ֗ה אֲשֶׁ֤ר תַּקְרִ֙יבוּ֙ לַיי לֹ֥א תֵעָשֶׂ֖ה חָמֵ֑ץ כִּ֤י כָל־שְׂאֹר֙ וְכָל־דְּבַ֔שׁ לֹֽא־תַקְטִ֧ירוּ מִמֶּ֛נּוּ אִשֶּׁ֖ה לַֽיי׃

(11) No meal offering that you offer to the LORD shall be made with chametz/leaven, for no leaven or honey may be turned into smoke as an offering by fire to the LORD.

Songs of Ascent and the Seder

There are fifteen steps to the Seder, fifteen verses to Dayeinu and fifteen Psalms that begin "A Song of Ascents." These fifteen "Songs of Ascent" were recited by the Levites as they climbed the fifteen steps to the Temple. In the Holy Temple they only had Matzah. When we clear our homes of Chametz and replace our bread with matzah we are turning our homes into a mini-temple (mikdash me'at)


Every room in the home corresponds to some different area and the function that it served in the Holy Temple. The dining room is like the courtyard where the outer altar stood. Our Sages compare the table on which a Jew eats to the altar in the Temple. Each Jew, even though not a Priest and not living in the time of the Temple, is analogous to a Priest who partakes of the Temple sacrifices. The sacrifices were divided into various components. Some were “burnt offerings” on the altar, while others were eaten by the Priests. The act of the Priest eating of the offering would effect atonement for the person who brought the offering. Thus, the apparently mundane act of eating is actually spiritual and Divine.

(In a certain respect, when a person eats, he reflects that aspect of the sacrifice that was burnt on the altar. Any act of consuming is referred to as eating. The Torah refers to a fire as “eating,” aish ochla (Deuteronomy 4:24). To consume and to be burnt are identical concepts. The Hebrew word aish is an acronym for achila shtiya, eating and drinking. Fire both eats and drinks. When we eat, this reflects either the altar eating, or the Priest eating, or the eating of the person who brought the offering.)

The Holy of Holies is referred to in one place in the Torah (Kings 2, 11:2) as the “bedroom.” This was the home of the Divine Groom and Bride, which is G-d and Knesset Yisrael, the Shechinah.

Debora Sophie Gordon

Some people are asking what to add to the seder plate this year. There are many creative answers. For myself, I think we already have all the symbols we need. I don't have a new "drash" (meaningful explanation) for charoset and z'roa (bone) yet, but I'll add them as they come.

* Matzah: Represents both being unprepared (“they had no time to let their dough rise”) and responding creatively to novel situations. Even though we have been caught off guard, we will respond creatively and turn our Bread of Affliction into Bread of Freedom.

* Salt water (or vinegar in some Sephardic traditions): a mild disinfectant. We will take measures to protect ourselves. We don’t need zero risk — just keep it low enough not to overwhelm our healthcare system or our own immune systems.

* The egg: The longer it’s cooked, the more rubbery it gets … under ordinary circumstances. But under true adversity, cooked for 6 hours or overnight to make huevos haminados, the egg takes on beautiful colors and is soft and creamy. So we will endure the tough and rubbery times, trusting that we will turn this time to beauty and good when we can.

* Maror: The bitter plants of the world are also among the most tenacious. Like horseradish, like dandelion, we will survive and even thrive in the face of adversity.

* Karpas: Spring green. In my family, there was always a cold boiled potato to dip in salt water, along with parsley. After I left home I learned that this was what Litvak (Lithuanian) Jews used for their ritual “hors d’oeuvre.” Who had anything green in March that far north? Karpas reminds us of the importance of short supply chains and eating locally.

Maggid - Asking Questions for Freedom (based on Rabbi Ami Silver)

We are told by the sages to tell the story of the Exodus on seder night by beginning with disgrace and ending with praise. On Pesach we are to experience ourselves as being led from slavery to freedom, from shame and disgrace to a place of freedom. The entire story of redemption is fueled by people who were not afraid to question assumptions and the status quo. Pharoah's midwives who disobeyed, Pharoah's daughter instead of drowning Moshe she adopts him as her own, Miriam challenged her parents to have more children. Moshe sees injustice and defends the weak, he asks fighting Israelites "how can you fight with your neighbor?" Upon seeing the burning bush, he turns aside to ask, "How can it be that this bush is burning not consumed?"

Moshe leads them to freedom because he is willing to ask questions that will pave the path forward towards freedom. So too in our day we must ask questions and challenge the status quo and ask questions.

Mah Nishtanah - four kashiyot (challenges) we teach our children to ask questions so that they will become like Moshe and live in a state of question. So that this moment can be unlocked from the confines of how I have experienced it until now.

Opening the Door for Elijah

1) The Torah describes the night of Passover as leil shimurim, a “guarded night.” It is the night when long ago G‑d protected the Jews from the plague which slew all the Egyptian firstborn, and the night when G‑d’s protection over His chosen nation is most apparent. Opening the door expresses our trust in G‑d’s protection.

2) When opening the door, we take the opportunity to invite in the prophet Elijah. Elijah is the one who visits the circumcision ceremony of every Jewish child, and testifies that the Jewish people are scrupulous regarding the mitzvah of circumcision. Males were permitted to partake of the paschal offering only if they were circumcised. Thus, Elijah comes to the Seder to “testify” that all present are indeed circumcised.

Cup of Elijah

1) There is an open question in the Talmud whether we are obligated to have four or five cups on the night of Passover. Since the issue was never resolved, we pour a fifth cup, but do not drink it.

After heralding the coming of the Messiah, one of Elijah’s tasks will be to resolve all unanswered halachic questions. Thus, this fifth cup whose status is in doubt is dubbed “Elijah’s Cup,” in anticipation of the insight he will shed on the matter.

2) The four cups correspond to the four “expressions of redemption” promised by G‑d: “I will take you out from the suffering of Egypt, and I will deliver you from their bondage; I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments. I will take you to Myself as a nation . . .” The fifth cup corresponds to the fifth expression of redemption, which comes in the following verse: “I will bring you to the Land . . .” This expression, however, is an allusion to the future messianic redemption, which will be announced by Elijah. This is also why we do not drink, “enjoy,” the fifth cup—as we have not yet experienced this redemption.

Filling Our Cup of Redemption Ourselves

The Hassidic Rebbe Naftali Tzvi Horowitz (Poland) used to
go around the Seder table inviting each participant to pour from their personal cup into Elijah’s cup. This symbolizes the Kabbalistic concept that Divine action will occur when there is a corresponding human action, an awakening from below that precedes it.

In some families, each participant helps to fill Elijah’s cup of future redemption, while, silently or aloud, making a particular wish for a better year. May it come true with our own initiative and then with God's help.

Messianism Is About Healing - Rabbi Chaim Potok, author of The Chosen

The notion of Messiah as an actual individual is very dangerous, something we should be on guard against. Salvation for me is the effort that we put into understanding our deepest selves in the most honest way that we can, so that we can look not only at our own selves, but at the selves of others around us. Messianism is about a world that’s trying to be healed, redeemed; the notion of a goal toward which we are constantly navigating.

Debt Jubilee

A debt cancellation is needed when debts go beyond the ability to be paid, and all personal debts, all non-business debts, tend to mount up beyond what they can be paid. You have debt-strapped individuals right now who lost their jobs, or their stores have closed down, or they work in restaurants and they’re unable to earn the money to pay. Arrears are rising on student debts [and] on automobile loans, it’s obvious that the debts are growing so large that the only way of paying them is to foreclose on the property, or let them be homeless, or kick them out in the streets. And the reason that the Babylonians and the early Jews cancel the debts was not because they were idealists. They weren’t egalitarians. All the debts have to be canceled by the government. And the government cancels it because it doesn’t want to make the economy fall into austerity. It doesn’t want people to lose their livelihood and become unproductive members of society. The reason your cancel the debts is you want to preserve stability. (Michael Hudson)

Next Year in Jerusalem! - Rabbi David Hartman

Every year Jews drink four cups of wine and then pour a fifth for Elijah. “The cup is poured, but not yet drunk. Yet the cup of hope is poured every year. Passover is the night for reckless dreams; for visions about what a human being can be, what society can be, what people can be, what history may become. That is the significance of ‘Le-shanah ha-ba-a b’Yerushalayim‘ (Next year in Jerusalem).”