The Story of the Four Cups

The Four Cups "on one foot":

At the Passover Seder it is customary to drink 4 cups of grape juice or wine. This source sheet examines how that custom came to be.

Four Cups?

(א) עַרְבֵי פְסָחִים סָמוּךְ לַמִּנְחָה, לֹא יֹאכַל אָדָם עַד שֶׁתֶּחְשָׁךְ. וַאֲפִלּוּ עָנִי שֶׁבְּיִשְׂרָאֵל לֹא יֹאכַל עַד שֶׁיָּסֵב. וְלֹא יִפְחֲתוּ לוֹ מֵאַרְבַּע כּוֹסוֹת שֶׁל יַיִן, וַאֲפִלּוּ מִן הַתַּמְחוּי:

(1) On the eve of Passover, adjacent to minḥa time, a person may not eat until dark, so that they will be able to eat matza that night with a hearty appetite. Even the poorest of Jews should not eat the meal on Passover night until they recline on the left side, as free and wealthy people recline when they eat. And the distributors of charity should not give a poor person less than four cups of wine for the Festival meal of Passover night. And this halakha applies even if the poor person is one of the poorest members of society and receives food from the charity plate.

Context: This is from the Mishnah, Masechet (Tractate) Pesachim, which is about Passover. Chapter 10 gives the origins of many components of the Seder. This is the first mention of this custom.

Why four cups of wine?

(א) ערבי פסחים סמוך למנחה...ולא יפחתו לו מארבעה כוסות של יין... (ב) מזגו לו כוס ראשון...מברך על היין, ואחר כך מברך על היום. (ד) מזגו לו כוס שני, וכאן הבן שואל אביו. (ז) מזגו לו כוס שלישי, מברך על מזונו.רביעי, גומר עליו את ההלל, ואומר עליו ברכת השיר.בין הכוסות הללו, אם רוצה לשתות, ישתה.בין שלישי לרביעי, לא ישתה.

(1) On the eve of Passover... they must give a person no fewer than four cups of wine.... (2) They mix the first cup...He recites a blessing over the wine, and then recites a blessing for the day. (4) They mix a second cup for him. And here the child questions the father... (7) They mix a third cup; he blesses [after] his meal. [The] fourth [cup] is concluded with Hallel, which he says with the [concluding] blessing. Between these cups, if he wishes to drink, he may drink. Between the third and the fourth [cups], he may not drink.

Context: This is also from Mishnah Pesachim, specifically the parts of Chapter 10 that mention the four cups. The first cup is for the Kadesh step, where we say a short blessing over the wine/grape juice, and a longer paragraph over "the day", saying that Passover is now "holy" time, distinct from the rest of the year. The second cup is "mixed" (back then wine had to be diluted) prior to the Four Questions in Magid. The third cup is for Barech, when we thank G-d for our dinner after eating, and the fourth cup is at the Hallel step.

But What About the Demons?

ולא יפחתו לו מארבעה: היכי מתקני רבנן מידי דאתי בה לידי סכנה והתניא לא יאכל אדם תרי ולא ישתה תרי ולא יקנח תרי ולא יעשה צרכיו תרי אמר רב נחמן אמר קרא (שמות יב, מב) ליל שמורים ליל המשומר ובא מן המזיקין רבא אמר כוס של ברכה מצטרף לטובה ואינו מצטרף לרעה רבינא אמר ארבעה כסי תקינו רבנן דרך חירות כל חד וחד מצוה באפי נפשה הוא

We learned in the mishna that even with regard to the poorest of Jews, the charity distributors should not give him less than four cups of wine. The Gemara asks: How could the Sages establish a matter through which one will come to expose himself to danger? But wasn’t it taught in a baraita: A person should not eat pairs, i.e., an even number of food items; and he should not drink pairs of cups; and he should not wipe himself with pairs; and he should not attend to his sexual needs in pairs. The concern was that one who uses pairs exposes himself to sorcery or demons. Why would the Sages require one to drink an even number of cups and thereby place himself in a position of danger? Rav Naḥman said that the verse said: “It was a night of watching to the Lord” (Exodus 12:42), which indicates that Passover night is a night that remains guarded from demons and harmful spirits of all kinds. Therefore, there is no cause for concern about this form of danger on this particular night. Rava said a different answer: The cup of blessing for Grace after Meals on Passover night is used in the performance of an additional mitzva and is not simply an expression of freedom. Therefore, it combines with the other cups for the good, i.e., to fulfill the mitzva to drink four cups, and it does not combine for the bad. With regard to the danger of drinking pairs of cups, it is as though one drinks only three cups. Ravina said: The Sages instituted four separate cups, each of which is consumed in a manner that demonstrates freedom. Therefore, each and every one is a distinct mitzva in its own right. In other words, each cup is treated separately and one is not considered to be drinking in pairs.

Context: This is from the Gemara on the first mishnah we looked at. There was a concern that doing things in pairs might expose one to danger from demons, so drinking 4 cups was a problem. The rabbis came up with 3 answers (because that's an odd number):

1. Rav Nahman - The Torah says that Passover was "a night of watching" for G-d, so G-d will protect us from demons.

2. Rava - The third cup is used for Birkat HaMazon, thanking G-d for our food, and that's a separate mitzvah. Therefore, it's really 3 cups, plus an extra one.

3. Ravina - Really, each cup is its own separate commandment, so we're not doing 1 4-cup commandment (which is an even number), but rather we're doing 4 1-cup commandments (which is an odd number).

If you were to be concerned about demons, which argument, if any, would convince you it was OK to drink all 4 cups?

Why Recline?

The Seder is the Jewish version of festival banquets common throughout the Greco-Roman world called symposia. These dinners began with a meal and then turned to conversation, often prompted by a rhetorical question posed regarding the food just consumed. Originally, the Seder meal was eaten first...In the second century, however, as a response to guests who "ate and ran" without staying to hear the Passover story, the meal was postponed until later in the evening...[In the Four Questions] the Palestinian [Jews] did not ask why people reclined, since reclining took place at all fancy dinners in Roman society. The Babylonians added that one, since reclining was unusual where they lived. Similarly, dipping lettuce as an hors d'oeuvre was usual at Roman banquets...So Palestinians asked why [on all other nights] people dipped once, [but on this night] twice. In Babylonia, where no dipping was the rule, the question became, "Why [normally] do we never dip, whereas at the Seder, we dip twice?"

Lawrence Hoffman in My People's Passover Haggadah p 154-155

Context: Rabbi Lawrence Hoffman wrote an explanatory series about the siddur called My People’s Prayerbook, which brings together a wide range of commentaries about each prayer. My People’s Haggadah is an addition to that series.

The rabbis wanted the Seder to remind us that we were free, no matter how poor a given Jew might be. Therefore, they modeled it on what the freest people in the world, the upper-class Greco-Romans, did -- the symposium (a Greek word for “to drink together”). There were hor d'oeuvres (dipped in liquid) and drinking wine, all while reclining and discussing important ideas. Despite what the Talmud claims, we lean to the left when we drink because the Romans reclined to the left. The reason the Romans reclined to the left is that they often were insulted by comments they misunderstand due to the wine, and by reclining to the left they had easy access (as right-handed people) to their swords.

How does it change the meaning of the Four Cups for you to know that they are modeled on the symposium?

וַאֲפִילּוּ עָנִי שֶׁבְּיִשְׂרָאֵל לֹא יֹאכַל עַד שֶׁיָּסֵב. אִיתְּמַר: מַצָּה צָרִיךְ הֲסִיבָּה, מָרוֹר אֵין צָרִיךְ הֲסִיבָּה. יַיִן, אִיתְּמַר מִשְּׁמֵיהּ דְּרַב נַחְמָן: צָרִיךְ הֲסִיבָּה. וְאִיתְּמַר מִשְּׁמֵיהּ דְּרַב נַחְמָן: אֵין צָרִיךְ הֲסִיבָּה. וְלָא פְּלִיגִי: הָא בְּתַרְתֵּי כָּסֵי קַמָּאֵי, הָא בְּתַרְתֵּי כָּסֵי בָּתְרָאֵי. אָמְרִי לַהּ לְהַאי גִּיסָא וְאָמְרִי לַהּ לְהַאי גִּיסָא. אָמְרִי לַהּ לְהַאי גִּיסָא: תְּרֵי כָּסֵי קַמָּאֵי — בָּעוּ הֲסִיבָּה, דְּהַשְׁתָּא הוּא דְּקָא מַתְחֲלָא לַהּ חֵירוּת. תְּרֵי כָּסֵי בָּתְרָאֵי — לָא בָּעוּ הֲסִיבָּה, מַאי דַּהֲוָה הֲוָה. וְאָמְרִי לַהּ לְהַאי גִּיסָא: אַדְּרַבָּה, תְּרֵי כָּסֵי בָּתְרָאֵי — בָּעוּ הֲסִיבָּה, הָהִיא שַׁעְתָּא דְּקָא הָוְיָא חֵירוּת. תְּרֵי כָּסֵי קַמָּאֵי — לָא בָּעוּ הֲסִיבָּה, דְּאַכַּתִּי ״עֲבָדִים הָיִינוּ״ קָאָמַר. הַשְׁתָּא דְּאִיתְּמַר הָכִי וְאִיתְּמַר הָכִי, אִידֵּי וְאִידֵּי בָּעוּ הֲסִיבָּה.
We learned in the mishna that even the poorest of Jews should not eat until he reclines. It was stated that amora’im discussed the requirement to recline. Everyone agrees that matza requires reclining, i.e., one must recline when eating matza, and bitter herbs do not require reclining. With regard to wine, it was stated in the name of Rav Naḥman that wine requires reclining, and it was also stated in the name of Rav Naḥman that wine does not require reclining. The Gemara explains: And these two statements do not disagree with each other: This statement is referring to the first two cups, and that statement is referring to the last two cups. However, it was not clear which two cups require reclining according to Rav Naḥman. Some say the explanation in this manner and some say it in that manner. The Gemara elaborates: Some say it in this manner, that the first two cups require reclining, as it is now that freedom begins. Since reclining is a sign of freedom, while discussing the exodus from Egypt it is appropriate to drink while reclining. By contrast, the last two cups do not require reclining, because what was already was. In other words, by this point one has completed the discussion of the Exodus and has reached the latter stages of the seder. And some say it in that manner and claim that on the contrary, the last two cups require reclining, as it is at that time that there is freedom. However, the first two cups do not require reclining, as one still says: We were slaves. The Gemara concludes: Now that it was stated so, and it was stated so, i.e., there are two conflicting opinions and it cannot be proven which two cups require reclining, both these sets of cups and those require reclining.

Context: This is from the Babylonian Talmud, Masechet (Tractate) Pesachim. Note that "amora'im" are the rabbis who lived after the Mishnah, during the time of the Gemara (200-500 CE in Babylonia, 200-400 CE in the Land of Israel). This text is trying to understand the Mishnah’s statement (10:1) that one needs to recline and to drink 4 cups of wine (or grape juice) at the Seder. Reclining happens when we eat the matzah, eat the Hillel Sandwich, eat the Afikomen, and drink each of the 4 cups.

In the Jerusalem Talmud, Rav Levi explains, “It is the way of slaves to eat standing up, so we recline in order to know that we went from slavery to freedom.” (JT Pesachim 68b:13). The matzah reminds us of freedom because we ate it when leaving Egypt (Ex. 12:34), and the wine because that’s what free people got to do in their society.

Rav Nachman bar Ya’akov lived in Babylonia around 250-300 CE. It seems that his students couldn’t remember what he said about whether and when one ought to lean while drinking at the seder.

Which of these ideas most appeals to you?

A. Lean for the first 2 cups but not the last 2, because we’re only talking about leaving Egypt before dinner.

B. Lean for the last 2 cups but not the first 2, because we were slaves before we were free.

C. Lean for all 4 cups, because the seder helps us remember that we are free.

Why 4 Cups?

מניין לארבעה כוסות רבי יוחנן בשם ר' ר' בנייה כנגד ארבע גאולות (שמות ו) לכן אמור לבני ישראל אני ה' והוצאתי אתכם וגו' ולקחתי אתכם לי לעם וגומר והוצאתי והצלתי וגאלתי ולקחתי רבי יהושע בן לוי אמר כנגד ארבעה כוסות של פרעה (בראשית מ) וכוס פרעה בידי ואשחט אותם אל כוס פרעה ואתן את הכוס על כף פרעה ונתת כוס פרעה בידו וגו'. רבי לוי אמר כנגד ארבעה מלכיות ורבנן אמרי כנגד ד' כוסות של פורענות שהקב"ה עתיד להשקות את אומות העולם (ירמיהו כה, טו) כי כה אמר ה' אלקי ישראל אלי קח את כוס היין החימה וגו' כוס זהב בבל ביד ה' (תהילים עה) כי כוס ביד ה' (תהילים יא) ימטר על רשעים פחים אש וגפרית ורוח זלעפות מנת כוסם מהו מנת כוסם רבי אבין אמר דיפלי פוטירין כדיפלי פוטירין אחר המרחץ וכנגד עתיד הקב"ה להשקות את ישראל ארבעה כוסות של נחמות (תהילים טז) ה' מנת חלקי וכוסי (תהילים כג) דשנת בשמן ראשי כוסי רויה והדין (תהילים קטז) כוס ישועות אשא תריין.

From where [do we know the requirement to drink] four cups? Rabbi Yochanan [said] in the name of Rav, "Rabbi Banniah said, 'Corresponding to the four [expressions of] salvation: "Therefore say to the children of Israel, I am the Lord, and I will bring you out, etc. And I will take you to Me for a people, etc."(Exodus 6:6-7). "And I will bring you out, and I will rescue you, and I will save you, And I will take you."' Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi said, 'Corresponding to the four cups of Pharaoh: "And the cup of Pharaoh was in my hand and I squeezed them into the cup of Pharaoh and I placed the cup onto the palm of Pharaoh... and you will place the cup of Pharaoh, etc." (Genesis 40:11-13).' Rabbi Levi said, 'Corresponding to the four kingdoms' and the rabbis said, 'Corresponding to the four cups of punishment that the Holy One of Blessing will make the nations of the world drink in the future: "For so said Ad-nai, the God of Israel to me, 'Take the cup of wine of anger, etc.'" (Jeremiah 25:15); "A golden cup is Babylonia in the hand of the Lord" (Jeremiah 51:7); "As it is a cup in the hand of the Lord" (Psalms 75:9); "Upon the wicked God will cause to rain coals; fire and brimstone and burning wind shall be the portion of their cup" (Psalms 11:6).'" What is 'the portion of their cup'? Rabi Avin said the vial of Poterion wine that is given after the bath [in the bath house]. And in the future the Holy One of Blessing will make Israel drink four cups of consolation: 'God is my portion my cup' (Psalms 16:5); 'You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows' (Psalms 23:5); and also 'I will lift up the cup of salvations' (Psalms 116:13) - that counts as two.

Context: This is from the Jerusalem Talmud, Masechet (Tractate) Pesachim. There are 4 explanations (surprised by that number?) given for the 4 cups:

A. Rav Yochanan: There are 4 verbs used in Exodus to describe G-d taking us out of Egypt.

B. Rabbi Yehoshua: When Pharaoh’s butler describes his dream to Joseph, he uses the word “cup” 4 times.

C. Rabbi Levi: Daniel saw 4 kingdoms oppressing the Jews.

D. The Sages: There are 4 times that the Bible mentions a “cup of punishment” for those who oppress the Jews, and 4 times that the Bible mentions a cup meant to console the Israelites (really 3 times, but the last time says “cups”)

Which explanation do you buy the most and why?

The Maharal's Take

Two 16th C. mystic rabbis identify the Four Cups with the Four Matriarchs of Israel. The Maharal of Prague (famous for the legend of Golem) and Rav Isaiah Horowitz of Tsfat explain:

(1) The Cup of Kiddush stands for Sarah who was the mother of a community of converts, believers by choice.

(2) The Cup of Maggid is for Rebecca who knew how to mother both Esav and Jacob, two opposed natures.

(3) The Cup of the Blessing after Eating represents Rachel whose son Joseph provided the whole family of Jacob with bread in a time of great famine.

(4) The Cup of Hallel (Praise) is for Leah who came to realize that the pursuit of the impossible, Jacob's love, must give way to appreciation of what one has. When her fourth child was born, Judah, she praised God: " This time I will thank God " (Genesis 29:35).

Source: https://www.haggadot.com/clip/4-cups-4-promises-and-4-mothers, citing A Night to Remember: The Haggadah of Contemporary Voices by Mishael Zion and Noam Zion, which gives the references of "Gevurot Adoshem, p.77d" for the Maharal (Rabbi Judah Levy Loew), and "Shnei Luchot Habrit, p.156a" for R. Isaiah Horowitz, both cited by Yael Levine in Kolech 31 (Nissan 5761).

Another explanation...

On Pesach the four cups are a guarantee of an ample meal. They remind some historians of a Roman custom of drinking as many cups as there were letters in the name of the chief guest.

Who is the chief guest at Seder?

Not Moses, for he barely rates a mention. Not Elijah, for Jews in Roman times were unaware that he would later play a colourful role at the Seder.

The chief guest is God Himself, who redeemed us from Egypt – and His Hebrew name has four letters!

https://www.oztorah.com/2012/04/four-cups-of-wine

Once established, each cup anchors a mitzvah in the seder
גמ׳ א"ל רב חנן לרבא ש"מ ברכת המזון טעונה כוס א"ל ארבע כסי תיקנו רבנן דרך חירות כל חד וחד נעביד ביה מצוה:

GEMARA: Rav Ḥanan said to Rava: Since the mishna states that Grace After Meals must be recited over the third cup, learn from it that Grace After Meals requires a cup of wine. Rava said to him: This is no proof, for although the Sages instituted the drinking of four cups in the manner of freedom, once the four cups are in place, with each and every one of them we will perform a mitzva, despite the fact that they were not originally instituted for this purpose. After the Sages instituted these four cups, they attached a special mitzva to each one.

R. Daniel Landes, quoting R. Yitzchak Ze'ev Halevi Soloveitchik in My People's Passover Haggadah Vol 1 p. 136

Each of the four cups is an organizing anchor for a different section of the Seder:

first cup: the Kiddush, declaring the holiness of the day (KADESH)

second cup: telling the story (MAGID)

third cup: the Grace After Meals, Birkat ha Mazon (BARECH)

fourth cup: singing the Hallel Psalms (HALLEL)

Context: The first text is from the Babylonian Talmud, Masechet (Tractate) Pesachim, and the second text is a commentary by Rabbi Daniel Landes (the Director of Pardes Institute through 2016), quoting Rabbi Yitzchak Soloveitchik (the uncle of Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik).

In a pre-printing press era, why might it have been helpful to have these anchors throughout the seder?

What About...?

א"ר יהודה אמר שמואל ארבעה כוסות הללו צריך שיהא בהן כדי מזיגת כוס יפה שתאן חי יצא שתאן בבת אחת יצא השקה מהן לבניו ולבני ביתו יצא שתאן חי יצא אמר רבא ידי יין יצא ידי חירות לא יצא שתאן בבת אחת רב אמר ידי יין יצא ידי ארבעה כוסות לא יצא השקה מהן לבניו ולבני ביתו יצא אמר רב נחמן בר יצחק והוא דאשתי רובא דכסא

Rav Yehuda said that Shmuel said: These four cups must contain enough undiluted wine to allow for diluting a significant cup. In talmudic times, people would not drink pure wine. They would dilute it with water, generally adding three times as much water as wine. If one drank them undiluted, he has fulfilled his obligation. If one drank them all at once, i.e., he poured all four cups of wine into one large cup and drank it, he has fulfilled the obligation. If one gave his sons or the members of his household to drink from them, he has nevertheless fulfilled the obligation. The Gemara now addresses each of these rulings of Shmuel in turn. Shmuel said that if one drank them undiluted he has fulfilled his obligation. Rava said: He has fulfilled the obligation to drink the four cups of wine, but he has not fulfilled the obligation to drink in a way that expresses freedom, which is the preferable way to fulfill the mitzva, as aristocrats do not drink undiluted wine. If one drank the four cups all at once, Rav said that he has fulfilled the obligation to drink wine as an expression of rejoicing on the Festival, but he has not fulfilled the obligation to drink four cups, which requires four distinct cups, each drunk separately. Shmuel also stated that if one gave his sons or the members of his household to drink from them, he has nevertheless fulfilled his obligation. Rav Naḥman bar Yitzḥak said: And this is the case only if he himself drank the majority of the cup.

Context: This text is from the Babylonian Talmud, and it is trying to make sense of the Mishnah’s requirement to drink 4 cups. Today it is mostly relevant to those planning “speedy seders” - there ought to be distinct cups.

In what way might this approach of thinking through the various contingencies be useful in your own life?

To Sum It All Up

(ו) בְּכָל דּוֹר וָדוֹר חַיָּב אָדָם לְהַרְאוֹת אֶת עַצְמוֹ כְּאִלּוּ הוּא בְּעַצְמוֹ יָצָא עַתָּה מִשִּׁעְבּוּד מִצְרַיִם שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים ו כג) "וְאוֹתָנוּ הוֹצִיא מִשָּׁם" וְגוֹ'. וְעַל דָּבָר זֶה צִוָּה הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא בַּתּוֹרָה וְזָכַרְתָּ כִּי עֶבֶד הָיִיתָ כְּלוֹמַר כְּאִלּוּ אַתָּה בְּעַצְמְךָ הָיִיתָ עֶבֶד וְיָצָאתָ לְחֵרוּת וְנִפְדֵּיתָ:

(ז) לְפִיכָךְ כְּשֶׁסּוֹעֵד אָדָם בַּלַּיְלָה הַזֶּה צָרִיךְ לֶאֱכל וְלִשְׁתּוֹת וְהוּא מֵסֵב דֶּרֶךְ חֵרוּת. וְכָל אֶחָד וְאֶחָד בֵּין אֲנָשִׁים בֵּין נָשִׁים חַיָּב לִשְׁתּוֹת בַּלַּיְלָה הַזֶּה אַרְבָּעָה כּוֹסוֹת שֶׁל יַיִן. אֵין פּוֹחֲתִין לוֹ מֵהֶם. וַאֲפִלּוּ עָנִי הַמִּתְפַּרְנֵס מִן הַצְּדָקָה לֹא יִפְחֲתוּ לוֹ מֵאַרְבָּעָה כּוֹסוֹת. שִׁעוּר כָּל כּוֹס מֵהֶן רְבִיעִית:

(6) In every generation, one must see themself as if they personally had come out from the subjugation of Egypt; as it is stated (Deuteronomy 6:23), "And God took us out from there, etc." And regarding this, the Holy One, blessed be God, commanded in the Torah (Deut. 5:15, 15:15, 24:22), "Remember that you were a slave" - meaning to say, as if you yourself had been a slave, came out to freedom, and were redeemed.

(7) Hence when a person eats on that night, he must eat and drink while he is reclining in the way of freedom. And each and every one - whether man or woman - is obligated to drink four cups of wine on this night. We do not lessen them for him. And even for a poor person that is sustained from charity do we not lessen the four cups for him. The requisite amount of each of these cups is a revi'it.

Context: This is from Maimonides’ Mishneh Torah, in which he reorganizes the Talmud to cut out the discussion and give the bottom line. A revi’it is 4 fluid ounces. Note that if you are driving, taking medication, an alcoholic, pregnant, or just don’t like the taste of a particular wine, grape juice will fulfill your obligation.

According to Maimonides, what is the point of drinking the 4 cups at the Seder?

With appreciation to Rabbi Amy Loewenthal, Nelly Altenburger, Rabbi David Polsky, Josh Feigelson, Efraim Helfgot, Meir Kerzner, David Siff, Seth Kadish, Aryeh Mack, Kitah Chet Havura,

Appendix A: Personal Meaning from the Four Cups

Passover's 4 Steps to Breaking Bad Habits

By Yehuda L. Ceitlin

During the Passover Seder we recount in detail the plight of the Israelites as slaves in ancient Egypt, and we celebrate their eventual salvation. However, the Seder is not just about commemorating past events. The Talmudic sage Rabban Gamaliel II called upon us to include a personal element in the rituals of the Seder. “In every generation, a person must see themselves as if they personally left Egypt,”1 he instructed, leaving it to us to figure out how to make this ancient tale of redemption relevant to us today.

One suggestion was offered by Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneersohn of Lubavitch, the third Rebbe of Chabad, also known as the Tzemach Tzedek. He viewed the rabbinic instruction to drink four cups of wine (or grape juice for those who avoid alcohol) during the Seder as a framework for achieving personal freedom.2

Each cup was instituted to reflect another expression G‑d used to promise the Jews that they would be rescued from Egypt and become a nation with the power to determine their own destiny.3 If we follow this path, the Tzemach Tzedek writes, it can lead us on a personal journey towards freedom from any negative practices that hold us back.

Here is my personal understanding of those four 4 steps to breaking bad habits, based on G‑d’s 4 promises:

1. Stop

G‑d’s first expression of redemption to the Israelites was, “I will take you out” of Egypt. Before you get clean, you must get out of the mud. The first step to breaking free from a habit is to simply stop doing it. Medieval Jewish scholar Maimonides says, “A sinner should abandon his sins,” and suggests that you control your thoughts before they trigger a repeat offence.4 Immediately stop, even if you have already gone at it again.

2. Adopt

After the Israelites left Egypt, they were ill at ease with their new identity. G‑d promised: “I will save you,” and supplied them with protective clouds of glory and manna from the sky. The second step on the path to breaking free is to immerse yourself in an alternative, positive reality. When dropping an old habit, adopt a new one to take its place and fill the void. Happiness researcher Gretchen Rubin says that it is much easier to form new habits after a change in life. Adopt your new activity steadily and continuously so it becomes the new you.

3. Rationalize

G‑d gave the Israelites the holy Torah on Mount Sinai as a roadmap to living a meaningful life. The expression, “I will deliver you,” alludes to the study of Torah, which spiritually and intellectually transforms you. The third step on this journey is to establish the ethical reasoning of your decision and an understanding of the new person you are trying to become. As the Israelites said after receiving the Torah, "naaseh v'nishma” (“we will do and we will understand”). After you “do” by adopting a positive activity, the next step on the journey to change is learning and understanding.

4. Internalize

As the Israelites wandered through the desert, G‑d promised them that He would bring them to the Promised Land. Knowing that they would have a place to call their own allowed them to establish an emotional connection with their new selves. This positive emotional bond is reflected in the expression, “I will take you as a nation.” The fourth step on this path is to not only rationalize and understand the person you want to become, but to also fully internalize the change within you, because emotion plays a big part in influencing the decisions we make.

“Through the story we are redeemed from Egypt,”5 the Tzemach Tzedek once commented. You have the power to make the Passover narrative your own success story.

FOOTNOTES

1.Pesachim 116b.

2.Ohr HaTorah, Shemot, vol. 1, p. 185.

3.Exodus 6:6-7.

4.Mishneh Torah, Laws of Teshuvah, 2:2.

5.Rebbe Rayatz, eve of 20 Kislev 5692; Sefer Hamaamarim 5710, p. 197.

English

Appendix B: "Lean On Me"

An article by Rabbi Aaron Alexander, published in the Spring 2011 edition of "CJ - Voices of Conservative/Masorti Judaism"

There is an image of the modern Passover seder that has always felt a bit peculiar to me. As each person at the table is about to drink from the first of his or her four cups of wine or grape juice, a mass leaning to the left takes place. If you were to look at the scene from above it would look like dominoes beginning to fall, suspended between the horizontal and the vertical.

This practice, reclining to the left while drinking wine and eating the first matzah, occurs at seder tables throughout the world, partly as an imitation of the way in which kings and royalty would enjoy their meals, but more significantly as an attempt to represent ourselves physically as having escaped bondage for a life of freedom.

Rabbi Moses Maimonides (1135-1204) says it best in his Mishneh Torah:

"In each and every generation people are obligated to present themselves at this moment as if they themselves left slavery in Egypt... And based on this God commanded in the Torah: 'Remember that you were a slave' (Deuteronomy 5:15); i.e. as if you yourself were a slave and escaped slavery for freedom and redemption. Therefore, when we feast on this night [of the seder] we must eat and drink while reclining, in the manner of a free person" (Laws of Hametz and Matzah 7:6-7).

Ideally, during our seders we are spread out across the floor, lounging on pillows like the royalty of antiquity, and when the time for wine -- which is a luxury -- arrives, we experience the freedom to enjoy it in a way that is different and unusual, and an expression of what our dreams for a nightly event with our families and/or friends could be: a meal that could last as long as we want it to, with exciting and engaging conversation, plush chairs and couches, delicious food, and a relaxing environment.

And yet the modern practice does not seem to capture what the tradition intended. Imagine what it feels like to try to drink while bending slightly to the left. Not so easy. Is it more comfortable than simply drinking while remaining upright? Not really. Is there a better chance you will spill some red wine on your holiday clothing? Yes! The way we recline today can feel a little awkward and uncomfortable, not as luxurious as the rabbis intended.

Two medieval German rabbis also raised this issue. Rabbi Eliezer ben Nathan (1090-1170) and his grandson Rabbi Eliezer Yoel HaLevi (d. 1225) both claimed that the obligation no longer exists precisely because it is no longer a common practice for free people to eat their meals while reclining on pillows on the floor. Dignitaries in their time, as in ours, most often would eat at a table, not on the floor. Imitating them simply means doing what we already do. According to this opinion free people are blessed to enjoy meals at a table, sitting upright.

But mainstream Jewish law did not accept their sociological reasoning. Later rabbis saw something more important in the wider picture of the seder, namely, the necessity too differentiate it from other nights. We recline to the left, or even move to the floor and lounge to the left, because it forces us to change our routine and imagine ourselves as kings and queens, princes and princesses, enjoying a royal banquet. Even if it feels slightly awkward it is different, and thus it is special.

I believe there is another way to understand the paradox of leaning uncomfortably to experience comfort. Think back to the dominoes. At the moment that each person reclines the image is powerful. Instead of a group of people randomly spread all over the place, each person is supported figuratively (and maybe even literally) by the person to his left. The dominoes are suspended, frozen, capturing our collective desire to both support and be supported by our seder-mates.

A large part of what makes the seder experience so meaningful is the warm feeling we get from being so close to our families, members of our communities, and the strangers we invite to our tables. How natural it seems that in the most vivid moments of reliving the journey from slavery to freedom we do not sit upright, distanced from each other, but instead we support ourselves with the people with whom we surround ourselves.

Even people who are left-handed must lean to the left, even though leaning to the right would be more natural. The rabbis were afraid that if people were to lean to the right it would be more likely that food would lodge in their windpipes. But if right-handed people were to lean to the left, and those who are left-handed were to lean to the right, we no longer would have each person reclining toward his or her neighbor.

On the first two nights of Passover we are offered the opportunity to be part of an ancient communal commandment that caters to all of our senses. We eat, drink, pray, talk, learn, and ultimately strengthen our bonds toward one another. Take hold of that chance. Move your chairs even closer to one another. And when you recline, feel the physical and spiritual support from your community around the table.

Hag kasher v'sameach!

In 2011, Rabbi Aaron Alexander was the associate dean of the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies in Los Angeles, where he taught rabbinic literature and halachah. He now (as of 2022 is the co-senior rabbi of Adas Israel in Washington DC.

Appendix C: The Four Cups as Four Reasons to Thank G-d for Redeeming Us

טעם ארבע כוסות. בבראשית רבה רב הונא בשם ר' רבא אמר כנגד ארבעה לשוני גאולה האמורים בגאולת מצרים והוצאתי, והצלתי, וגאלתי, ולקחתי. פ' וארא. ויש לעיין באמת למה שינה הכתוב בד' לשונות. ולמה תקנו כנגדן ד' כוסות היאך מצינו סמך בהני ד' לשונות שמרמזין על ד' כוסות. וי שלומר דקרא אתי לאשמעינן שהיה במצרים ד' מיני גאולות. וחכמם תקנו כנגדן ד' כוסות ע"ש כוס ישועות אשא ובשם ד' אקרא. והכתוב שינה בד' לשונות ללמדך שינוי הצרות בד' אופנים. וחייבים על כל אחד ואחד לתת תודה ושבח לי"ת כדאיתא ברכות דף נ"ד ע"ב. ארבעה צריכין להודות וסימנם חיים יורדי ים, והולכי מדברות, ומי שהי' חולה ונתרפא. ומי שהיה חבוש האסורים ויצא. כדכתי' תהלים ק"ז יורדי הים באניות ויצעקו אל ד' ומצוקותיהם יוציאם. תעו במדבר, ויצעקו אל ד' ממצוקותיהם יצילם. ויגיעו עד שערי מות, ויזעקו אל ד' ממצוקותיהם יושיעם. אסירי עני וברזל, ויזעקו אל ד' ממצוקותיהם יושיעם. יודו לד' חסדו וגו' והנה התלמוד שינה סדרן של הד' מסדר הכתוב ושינה ג"כ הלשון בים ובמדבר אמר בלשון הוה ובחולה וחבוש אמר בלשון עבר (כך הקשה מהרש"א בח"א). והטעם נראה כיון דקרא משנה ג"כ איזה פעמים בלשונו במדבר כתוב ממצוקותיהם יצילם בים כחוב ממצוקותיהם יוציאם בחולה וחבוש כתוב ממצוקותיהם יושיעם וטעם הכתוב הוא כיון דגבי ים ומדבר הם דרכי סכנה וצריך תפילה להנצל מכל מרעין בישין שלא יבוא אליו שום סכנה בדרך ההוא שייך בהם ליכתב בלשון הצלה שהוא לשון הפרשה מן האויב והאורב כמו ויצילני מחרב פרעה שכולם נעשם חרשים וסומים ואלמים ובין כך ניצל ונמלט מהם וכמו כי כל העשר אשר הציל וגו' עיין רש"י ויצא. אולם גבי' ים נופל לשן יוציאם במקום יצילם. כי כשיורדים בים נכנסים אל הספינה וכשעולים מן הים יוצאים מן הספינה כמו צא מן התיבה ע"כ כתי' בלשון ממצוקותיהם יוציאם ר"ל כשיוצא בשלום מן הים שלא אירע לו רעה או שום סכנה יודו לד' חסדו שיצא בלי פגע. או כשבא מן המדבר בשלום לביתו בלי פגע ולא אירע לו שום רעה לא פגע בלסטים וחיות או שום שאר סכנה על הדרך יודו לד' חסדו. נמצא ששניהם צריכין להודות אפי' כשלא באה הצרה עליהם והובאה היא על שהציל ד' ית' אותם שלא אירע להם הצרה. ע"כ כתוב בהן יצילם במדבר וגבי ים יוציאם במקום יצילם שהוא ג"כ כך מובנו שיצא בלי פגע משא"כ בחולה וחבוש שהנה הוא כבר דצרה שאירע לו והא שייך בה לשון הצלה שיהא הפרשה המורה על שליטת הרעה ממנו. רק המה צריכין ישועה מאת ד' להסיר מהם החולי והמאסר לכן כתוב בהם לשון יושיעם. (וכמו כאשר רדפו פרעה ומצריים אחר בני ישראל ואז היו בצרה גדולה מצד אחד מדבר נחשים ועקרבים ומצד השני האורבים לנפשם המה המצריים ולפניהם הים עד שקפצו בתוך הים והמים היה מגיע להם עד צואר יגיע ואין צרה גדולה יותר מזה לכן היו אז צריכין לישועת השם לכן בעת הזאת אמר להם משה התיצבו וראו את ישועת ד' גו' ע"כ על הזמן שהוא נאמר שם ויושע ד' ביום ההוא וגו') ומהאי טעמא תפס הגמרא לשון הוה אצל ים ומדבר שצריכין המה להודות ע"ז שאף הצער מן הסכנה לא היה להם כי לא באו לכלל צרה כלל. משא"כ חולה וחבוש שהיה להם כבר צער הצרה וצריכין להודות ע"ז שנושעו מן הצרה הזאת והסיר מהם כל חלי וכל מאסר בזה שייך לשון הגמרא שתפסו בלשון עבר מכיון שכבר נתונים היו בתוך סכנה אך אח"כ הושיעם השי"ת מהצרה הזאת, שפיר אמר מי שהיו חולה וחבוש ומעתה מבואר ג"כ מה שהכתוב שינה בד' מיני לשונות של גאולת מצרים כמו שהובא למעלה. כי לכאורה יש לדקדק עוד בפסוק לכן אמר וגו' היינו מתחת סבלות מצרים היינו מעבדתם ולמה כפלם ועוד דהיה לו לקצר ולכתוב והוצאתי אתכם ממצרים וממילא ידענו שהוציאם מתחת סבלותם ועבודתם וכשכתב מתחת סבלת משמע שלא הוציאם רק מסבלות מצרים ואל ממצרים עצמה נמצא חסר העיקר מן הספר ועוד הלשון והצלתי כפי שבארנו משמעותו שלא באו לכל עבודה כלל וזה אינו כי עבדו אותם בפרך עד שימררו את חייהם בכל עבודתם. גם תמוה שאצל לשון וגאלתי אינו מזכיר הכתוב כלל ממצרים היה לו ליכתוב וגאלתי אתכם ממצרים וזאת התמיה ג"כ על כל מהארבעה הבטחות שלא הזכיר יציאת מצרים עצמה אך באמת נראה לפרש שישראל הי' מפחדים אף כשיצאו ממצרים בדרך הישר שהיא דרך הקרובה והישרה היא ארץ פלשתים ואם לא יחזרו תיכף אחר ג' ימים בוודאי ירדפם פרעה וחילו לשעבדם יותר ויותר מכאשר לפנים בדרך נקימה וקנס ג"כ ויענו שם במקום שיגיעם תיכף לשעבדם תחת סבלותם וכמו שאמרו למשה הלא זה הדבר אשר דברנו אליך במצרים וגו' (בשלח י"ד י"ב). ע"כ המגיד מראשית אחרית הודיע למשה נביאו שמבטיח לישראל שלא יעלה מורא זו על ראשם ואמר להם בלשון והוצאתי אתכם אשר זאת הלשון יציאה שייך לומר מהים כמאמר תהלים וממצוקותיהם יוציאם האמור ביורדי הים ולבשר להם שלא ינתם אותם דרך ארץ פלשתים רק דרך המדבר ים סוף ומתוך כך אין אתם צריכים לירא מצרים שיעמיסו עוד סבלותם עליכם מפני שהמה טובעים בים סוף כי רק והוצאתי אתכם דייקא ולא המצריים שהמה נטבעים בים ושמא תיראו לנפשותיכם שגם במדבר אשר אתם הולכים דרך שמה תהיו מוכרחים ג"כ לשעבד עצמיכם באיזה עבודת קשית בשביל להחיות נפשותיכם ונפש הטף במזון ומחי. והמקום לא מקום זרע וצריכין בוודאי לזאת עבודה גדולה לזה הבטיח להם אף אם ח"ו יגרום החטא להתעכב במדבר מ"מ לא תצטרכו לעבודת קשות כמו במצרים וזהו והצלתי אתכם מעבודתם היינו מעבודתם שהיו משעבדים שמה בשביל חיותם אבל שמה לא תהיו משועבדים עבוד זה כי ירד לכם במדבר לחם מן השמים והבאר והשליו אשר מצאו שם כל מחסרים. ומאחר שרצה הקב"ה להודיע להם שיבאו לארץ ישראל דרך הים ודרך המדבר ובדרכים הללו יהיו זקוקים להעשות להם נסים גדולים כאשר באמת עלתה להם כך ועבור זה הבטיח להם הקב"ה ורמז להם בלשון והוצאתי דקאי על הים והצלתי דקאי על המדבר עיין למעלה שהארכתי שם ואם יריאים אתם אולי לא יאבה פרעה שלוח אתכם מארצו הריני מבטיחכם כי לא לבד שישלח אתכם מארצו כי אפילו במצרים עצמו קודם שתצאו משם יתן לכם החירות כמו שמצינו במדרש רבה שאמר פרעה להם הרי אתם ברשות עצמיכם קמו צאו מתוך עמי וזה שאמר סתם וגאלתי אתכם בזרוע נטוי' היינו בארץ מצרים עצמה תהיו בני חורין מחמת שאשפטם בשפטים גדולים. ולפחד מהחולי שבאה להם מקושי השעבוד ותש כחן ע"ז מבטיח להם במה שאמר ולקחתי אתכם לי לעם וזהו לקבלת התורה שתיכף כאשר עמדו במעמד הר סיני נאמר וכל העם רואים הקולות ושם עיין רש"י שהוכיח מהפסוקים האלו שנתרפאו כולם ממומן במעמד הקדוש הזה של מתן תורה וגם כתוב אם שמוע תשמע וכו' כל המחלה אשר שמתי במצרים לא אשים עליך נמצא לפי זאת ההנחה שהיתה ב' מיני הצלות והשנים הראשונים שהם מורים על הים והמדבר נאמר לשון והוצאתי והצלתי כאשר גם המשורר סידר בזה הלשון לפי שלא היה צרה רק הנס הי' זאת שלא יבואו לצרה והשני לשונות אחרונים המה מורים על ישועה מן הצרה כמו שאמר המשורר ממצוקותיהם יושיעם שהם מורים על הישועה שצריכה להם שכבר היו בהצרה היא הבית כלא בית עבדים גם התשישות כחש היתה באה להן והחולי מעבודה קשה ומשניהם שהם כל הארבעה מיני הצלות הבטיח להם הקב"ה שיפדה וגאול אותם בקרב כן נזכה ליגאל גם עתה בב"א וע"כ תקנו לנו חכמים הארבעה כוסות להודיע לנו שהתורה מרמז בזה ד' לשונות על ד' מיני הצלות שהיו לישראל שאמר דהמע"ה שכל הד' צריכין לתת שבח ותודה להשי"ת והשיר והודאה צריכין כוס כמש"נ כוס ישועות אשא ובשם ד' אקרא ודו"ק.

The Reason for the Four Cups of Wine: Four Types of Redemption

There were four types of redemption that took place from Egypt, and that the sages decreed a cup of wine for each type of redemption on the basis of the verse in Scripture: "I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord." (Psalm 116:13)

We are obligated to give thanks and praise to God for our redemption from each according to Berachot 54b: "There are four classes of people who have to offer thanksgiving: those who cross the sea, those who traverse the wilderness, one who has recovered from an illness, and a prisoner who has been set free..." As is written:

  • "They go down to the sea in ships….in their adversity they cried to the Lord and He took them out (yotzee'eim) from their troubles." (Ps. 107:23-32)
  • "Some lost their way in the wilderness…In their adversity they cried out to the Lord and he saved them (yatzeeleim) from their troubles." (Ps. 107:4-9)
  • "They reached the gates of death…in their adversity they cried to the Lord and He delivered them (yoshee'eim) from their troubles." (Ps. 107:18-19)
  • "Bound in cruel irons…in their adversity they cried to the Lord and He delivered them (yoshee'eim) from their troubles." (Ps 107:10-17) …Let them praise the Lord for his steadfast love, His wondrous deeds for humankind…" (Ps. 107:8)

...When Pharaoh the Egyptians pursued Israel, the Israelites could have experienced great suffering. On the one hand, the wilderness which is filled with snakes and scorpions, and on the other hand, Israel was pursued by the Egyptians and the sea was before them (there was no escape). Yet they were delivered before any harm could come to them. They were in need of the deliverance of God. Moses stood before the people and said to them, "Stand up and witness the deliverance (yeshuah) of the Lord!" the deliverance occurred before the troubles. That is why the Torah says, "God delivered (vayosha) them on that day…") Even if one does not experience danger in the wilderness, there is always the possibility of encountering danger, so that the by definition, a wilderness is considered places of suffering.
In the case of illness or imprisonment, the person is already experiencing tza'ar, trouble. We give thanks because God has removed the illness or freed us from prison. The Talmud describes these experiences in the past tense because we have already experienced the trouble and afterwards we were delivered.

These four promises anticipate Israel's experience at the time of the Exodus. The Israelites were afraid of leaving Egypt. They realized that if they followed the most direct route out of Egypt and they did not come back within three days, the Egyptians would pursue them and inflict even more severe penalties on them after subjugating them once again.

Therefore God - the One who states the end from the very beginning - made known to Moses that they had no reason to fear the Egyptians; that God would arrange the exodus in the most effective way.
• 'I will take you out' implies from the sea, as we see in Psalm 107. God hinted in this promise that he would not take them by way of the land of the Philistines but rather by the way of the sea. The Israelites had no reason to fear the 'labors of Egyptians' because God planned to drown the Egyptians in the sea. "I will take you out of the labors of Egypt." This verse implies that I am taking you and not the Egyptians out.
• I will save you - from the wilderness. The Israelites might also be fearful that God would bring the people into the dangerous wilderness where they would face many difficult tasks. Since the wilderness is not a place where things grow, they would have to work very hard to find food. God reassured them by saying, "I will save you" implies from the wilderness, as in Psalm 107. Even if sin made it necessary to remain in the wilderness for an extended period of time, God reassured them by saying it will not be necessary for you to do hard labor. God rained down bread from heaven, quail to eat each day during the desert sojourn as well as ample water from a well.
• I will redeem you - Having reassured the people that he would protect them both at the sea and in the wilderness, the people might become anxious that Pharaoh would not let them leave at all; that he would give them freedom but keep them in Egypt. Therefore God made a third promise: "I will redeem you with an out stretched arm and with extraordinary judgments." This was a reassurance that God would pass judgment on the Egyptians and their gods while they were in Egypt.
• I will take you to be My people - Finally to the fear that they would carry the illness and injuries that were inflicted on them during their years of slavery, God reassured them by saying, "I will take you to be My people." This is a reference to the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai. Rashi proves that God healed the Israelites of all their afflictions at the time of the revelation. Also we find the following verse in Exodus 15:26 - "I will not bring upon you any of the diseases that I brought upon the Egyptians…"
We see then, that the first two promises are promises of safety from the sea and the wilderness, while the second two promises in Exodus 6 are promises of freedom from slavery and from illness. Since these are the four things for which we give thanks and offer praise, the sages decreed that we should toast our redemption with four cups of wine.

Appendix D: Sources Cited in Jerusalem Talmud Pesachim 68b-69a

From where [did we get] "four cups?"

A) R' Yochanan said in the name of R' Benaya:

they correspond to the four expressions of redemption

(ו) לָכֵ֞ן אֱמֹ֥ר לִבְנֵֽי־יִשְׂרָאֵ֘ל אֲנִ֣י ה' וְהוֹצֵאתִ֣י אֶתְכֶ֗ם מִתַּ֙חַת֙ סִבְלֹ֣ת מִצְרַ֔יִם וְהִצַּלְתִּ֥י אֶתְכֶ֖ם מֵעֲבֹדָתָ֑ם וְגָאַלְתִּ֤י אֶתְכֶם֙ בִּזְר֣וֹעַ נְטוּיָ֔ה וּבִשְׁפָטִ֖ים גְּדֹלִֽים׃ (ז) וְלָקַחְתִּ֨י אֶתְכֶ֥ם לִי֙ לְעָ֔ם וְהָיִ֥יתִי לָכֶ֖ם לֵֽא-לֹהִ֑ים וִֽידַעְתֶּ֗ם כִּ֣י אֲנִ֤י ה' אֱ-לֹ֣הֵיכֶ֔ם הַמּוֹצִ֣יא אֶתְכֶ֔ם מִתַּ֖חַת סִבְל֥וֹת מִצְרָֽיִם׃

(6) Wherefore say unto the children of Israel: I am G-d, 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; (7) and I will take you to Me for a people, and I will be to you a G-d; and you shall know that I am A-donai your G-d, who brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians.

B) R' Yehoshua ben Levi said: they correspond to

the four cups of [the butler of] Pharaoh's dream...

(יא) וְכ֥וֹס פַּרְעֹ֖ה בְּיָדִ֑י וָאֶקַּ֣ח אֶת־הָֽעֲנָבִ֗ים וָֽאֶשְׂחַ֤ט אֹתָם֙ אֶל־כּ֣וֹס פַּרְעֹ֔ה וָאֶתֵּ֥ן אֶת־הַכּ֖וֹס עַל־כַּ֥ף פַּרְעֹֽה׃ (יב) וַיֹּ֤אמֶר לוֹ֙ יוֹסֵ֔ף זֶ֖ה פִּתְרֹנ֑וֹ שְׁלֹ֙שֶׁת֙ הַשָּׂ֣רִגִ֔ים שְׁלֹ֥שֶׁת יָמִ֖ים הֵֽם׃ (יג) בְּע֣וֹד ׀ שְׁלֹ֣שֶׁת יָמִ֗ים יִשָּׂ֤א פַרְעֹה֙ אֶת־רֹאשֶׁ֔ךָ וַהֲשִֽׁיבְךָ֖ עַל־כַּנֶּ֑ךָ וְנָתַתָּ֤ כוֹס־פַּרְעֹה֙ בְּיָד֔וֹ כַּמִּשְׁפָּט֙ הָֽרִאשׁ֔וֹן אֲשֶׁ֥ר הָיִ֖יתָ מַשְׁקֵֽהוּ׃ (יד) כִּ֧י אִם־זְכַרְתַּ֣נִי אִתְּךָ֗ כַּאֲשֶׁר֙ יִ֣יטַב לָ֔ךְ וְעָשִֽׂיתָ־נָּ֥א עִמָּדִ֖י חָ֑סֶד וְהִזְכַּרְתַּ֙נִי֙ אֶל־פַּרְעֹ֔ה וְהוֹצֵאתַ֖נִי מִן־הַבַּ֥יִת הַזֶּֽה׃

(11) and Pharaoh’s cup was in my hand; and I took the grapes and pressed them into Pharaoh’s cup and I gave the cup into Pharaoh’s hand.’ (12) Joseph said to him: ‘This is the interpretation of it: the three branches are three days; (13) within three days Pharaoh will lift up your head and restore you to your office; and you shall give Pharaoh’s cup into his hand, as you did when you were first his butler. (14) But have me in your remembrance when it shall be well with thee, and please show kindness to me and mention me to Pharaoh, and bring me out of this house.

C) R' Levi said: they correspond to the four kingdoms [Babylon, Media, Greece, Rome] - Daniel 7:1-18, 2:32-41, 11:2.

The Rabbis say: they correspond to the four cups of affliction which G-d will eventually serve to the nations of the world…

(טו) כִּ֣י כֹה֩ אָמַ֨ר ה' אֱלֹהֵ֤י יִשְׂרָאֵל֙ אֵלַ֔י קַ֠ח אֶת־כּ֨וֹס הַיַּ֧יִן הַחֵמָ֛ה הַזֹּ֖את מִיָּדִ֑י וְהִשְׁקִיתָ֤ה אֹתוֹ֙ אֶת־כָּל־הַגּוֹיִ֔ם אֲשֶׁ֧ר אָנֹכִ֛י שֹׁלֵ֥חַ אוֹתְךָ֖ אֲלֵיהֶֽם׃

(15) For thus saith the LORD, the God of Israel, unto me: Take this cup of the wine of fury at My hand, and cause all the nations, to whom I send thee, to drink it.

(ז) כּוֹס־זָהָ֤ב בָּבֶל֙ בְּיַד־ה' מְשַׁכֶּ֖רֶת כָּל־הָאָ֑רֶץ מִיֵּינָהּ֙ שָׁת֣וּ גוֹיִ֔ם עַל־כֵּ֖ן יִתְהֹלְל֥וּ גוֹיִֽם׃

(7) Babylon hath been a golden cup in LORD’S hand, That made all the earth drunken; The nations have drunk of her wine, Therefore the nations are mad. .

(ט) כִּ֤י כ֪וֹס בְּֽיַד־ה' וְיַ֤יִן חָמַ֨ר ׀ מָ֥לֵא מֶסֶךְ֮ וַיַּגֵּ֪ר מִ֫זֶּ֥ה אַךְ־שְׁ֭מָרֶיהָ יִמְצ֣וּ יִשְׁתּ֑וּ כֹּ֝֗ל רִשְׁעֵי־אָֽרֶץ׃

(9) Because in G-d's hand there is a cup of foaming wine, full of mixture, and G-d pours out the same; surely all the wicked of the earth will drain the dregs and drink them.

(ו) יַמְטֵ֥ר עַל־רְשָׁעִ֗ים פַּ֫חִ֥ים אֵ֣שׁ וְ֭גָפְרִית וְר֥וּחַ זִלְעָפ֗וֹת מְנָ֣ת כּוֹסָֽם׃

(6) Upon the wicked G-d will cause to rain coals; Fire and brimstone and burning wind shall be the portion of their cup.

D) And corresponding to them, G-d will serve B'nai Yisrael four cups of comfort.

(ה) ה' מְנָת־חֶלְקִ֥י וְכוֹסִ֑י אַ֝תָּ֗ה תּוֹמִ֥יךְ גּוֹרָלִֽי׃

(5) O G-d, the portion of my inheritance and of my cup, You support my fate.

(ה) תַּעֲרֹ֬ךְ לְפָנַ֨י ׀ שֻׁלְחָ֗ן נֶ֥גֶד צֹרְרָ֑י דִּשַּׁ֖נְתָּ בַשֶּׁ֥מֶן רֹ֝אשִׁ֗י כּוֹסִ֥י רְוָיָֽה׃

(5) You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.

(יג) כּוֹס־יְשׁוּע֥וֹת אֶשָּׂ֑א וּבְשֵׁ֖ם ה' אֶקְרָֽא׃

(13) I will lift up the cup of salvation, And call upon the name of G-d.

"Cos-Yeshuot" : Cup of SalvationS (plural) - so they count this as two deliverances