Sunday, March 25, 2018

Three Matzahs & Four Cups Of Wine

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Our sages established, that we drink 4 cups of wine at the Seder, for the 4 expressions of redemption that Hashem commanded Moshe to convey to the Jewish people, at the beginning of parshas Vaera, "I will take you out... I will save you... I will redeem you... And I will take you (to Myself as a nation)..." 

If these 4 expressions of redemption are so significant, that they should be symbolized by the Seder, why not have 4 matzahs which are a biblical commandment, as the Mishnah tells us, that the reason we have matzah, is "because our parents were redeemed from Egypt," as opposed to 4 cups of wine that are only a rabbinical enactment? 

Why do we need 3 matzahs? The simple reason is, that 2 whole matzahs are for hamotzi, just like on every Yom Tov we make the blessing of hamotzi on 2 whole challahs or matzahs, and an extra broken piece of matzah, poor man's bread, to recite the Haggadah over. 

However, being that everything in Torah is perfect and we know that the reason we have matzah, is "because our parents were redeemed from Egypt," the 3 matzahs must represent redemption as well. 

With this understanding, we can conclude that there are two aspects of redemption, one is connected to the number 3 and is represented by matzah, and the other is connected to the number 4 and is represented by wine. 

What are these two aspects of redemption? And why are they represented by wine and matzah? 

We are told, that the Jewish people had sunken to such a low in Egypt, that if they would have stayed a moment longer, they would have been totally lost, with no chance of redemption. It was only that Hashem pulled us out in the nick of time. In other words, it wasn't on our merits or through our efforts that we were redeemed, rather it was a one sided redemption, Hashem did it himself. 

This is what the Exodus was all about, being redeemed by Hashem himself, without our effort. Being that it was from Him, and we had no involvement, we have no pleasure in it. This is represented by matzah, which doesn't have much flavor, it is poor man's bread, symbolizing that we were poor in understanding and poor spiritually. We have 3 matzahs, representing the first 3 expressions of redemption, "I will take you out... I will save you... And I will redeem you..." These are all one sided, they are all from Hashem himself without our involvement. Being that these 3 actually happened at the Exodus, they are represented by matzah, a biblical commandment. 

The fourth, "And I will take you to Myself as a nation," didn't reach completion until we received the Torah at Mount Sinai, after 50 days of working on ourselves to be worthy of receiving Hashem's Torah. Being that it came about through our effort and on our merit, we have pleasure in it, therefore it is represented by wine that has flavor. Because it only reached completion 50 days after the Exodus, it is not totally connected to Pesach, and therefore, only a rabbinical enactment. 

So you have 3 that is given, and the fourth that is developed by the recipient. This will help us understand a few other things. 

This is one of the reasons that we have 3 fathers and 4 mothers. In producing a child, the part of the father is to give, but the mother takes what she received, and with her body's effort, she develops it into a complete baby. Being that 3 represents giving, there are 3 fathers, and since 4 represents taking and developing through our own effort, there are 4 mothers. 

The same thing is with Torah. The written Torah, which is called, "The mussar (discipline) of your father," because it is given to us completely by Hashem, we have no input. It is similar to redemption from above, symbolized by matzah a biblical commandment. 

However, the oral Torah, the Mishnah, Talmud, etc. is called, "The Torah of your mother," because our great rabbis develop and complete its details, showing the importance of personal involvement in the Torah. This is similar to redemption through our effort, symbolized by wine, a rabbinical enactment. 

You may ask, the fourth is only one, so why do we have 4 cups of wine? 

Because through our effort, we reveal that the essence and the purpose of the first three is for the fourth, so our effort begets all 4. Hence 4 cups of wine. 

May we soon merit to see the final redemption, which we deserve and earned. The time has come. 


  1. Praying for you and your sweet family.

  2. Chag sameach to you rabbi and your family!! What an amazing story of love and encouragement So beautiful! Never give up!! I too am dealing with an illness...stage 4 cancer but you give me so much hope! I love your beautiful song!!

    1. I also love Rabbi Yitzi's dvar Torah's. I am so sorry to hear you that you are dealing with stage 4 cancer. May Hashem give you a speedyyyyy refua shelema! May I ask what if your name (your full Jewish name like "your name ben( if ur a male) /bat ( if your a female) your mothers name".
      Hashem should redeem us all with the coming of Mashiach, speedily in our days.

  3. Chag Kasher VSameach!! Bezrat Hashem, we should all be healed very very very soon!! whether we need healing from a physical or spiritual or emotional or psychological barrier/illness- Hashem should continue to give us all the strength to rise above and be redeemed very speedily.
    Chag Kasher V'Sameach! B'shana haba b'yerushlaim!

  4. Thank you for your inspiration! May we dance soon together with Moshiach!!