Number 4 in Judaism
Four Cups of Wine – Four Children – Four Questions
Pesach (Passover) is the festival celebrated every spring commemorating the exodus of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt and a celebration of freedom.
It is named for God’s passing over the houses of the Israelites when he killed the first-born children of the Egyptians.
The Seder meal takes place during the first evening of Passover.
Jews retell the story of the Exodus of Egypt during the Seder meal.
“And you shall tell your son on that day, “It is because of what the Lord did for me when I came out of Egypt.” Exodus 13:8
This is a family meal, but often friends are invited. Non-Jews are also welcome to participate. Seder means order.
The Haggadah is book containing the order of the Seder meal with texts and songs. Every person around the table takes an active part reading passages and singing along.
A special Seder plate is prepared with food of great symbolism. Go to Number 6 in Judaism
During the Seder meal it is a requirement to drink four cups of wine (or grape juice).
These four cups symbolize the deliverance promised by God. Exodus 6:6-7
The four cups of wine:
The First cup
|“I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians”
|The Second cup
|“I will deliver you from their bondage”
|The Third Cup
|“I will redeem you….”
|The Fourth Cup
“I will take you for my people….”
In the Haggadah is the story of four different children
1. The first child is the wise child who searches for depth and meaning to the Passover story
2. The second child is the wicked child of a disloyal nature who segregates himself from the Jewish people and does not see the significance in his own life.
3. The third child id the simple child – This child is shy and naïve who wants to know how to do things, but not why.
4. The fourth child is the one who doesn’t know enough to ask questions.
During the Seder meal a child will ask four questions, the child may sing these four questions. Why is this night different from all other nights?
1. Why is it on all other nights we eat chametz or matzah, and on this night only matzah (unleavened bread)?
2. Why is it on all other nights we eat any kind of vegetables, and on this night only the bitter ones?
3. Why is it that on all other nights we need not dip even once (our food), on this night we do so twice?
4. Why is it on all other nights we eat sitting upright or reclining, and on this night we all recline?
Answer to the four questions – short version.
1. The slaves of Egypt ate unleavened bread. During the exodus from Egypt they had to leave in a hurry and had only unleavened bread.
2. The bitter vegetable is a reminder of the bitterness and hardship the Jews had to endure as slaves in Egypt.
3. The salt water used to dip food into, symbolizes the tears of the Hebrew slaves.
4. In ancient times only free people leaned back at the table while enjoying their meal. Slaves had to sit up straight.
The Four Mitzvot (commandments) of Purim Purim is joyous Jewish festival which commemorates the story of Esther.
The evil Haman (prime minister) plots to wipe out the Jewish people of ancient Persia.
Esther married the king, who at the time did not know she was a Jew.
Queen Esther outsmarted Haman and saved her people.
This is the festival to party, show compassion, wear costumes, and have a great time.
The Four Mitzvot:
1. The Mitzvah of Megillah (scroll) Ester (the book of Ester) The book of Ester is read twice to retell the Purim story yearly in the synagogue.
Every time Haman’s name is mentioned, his name will be overpowered by rackets of feet stomping, shouting and graggers twirling. Children will arrive at the synagogue wearing costums.
2. The Mitzvah of Mishloach Manot This requires a Jew to give at least two gifts to a friend, a neighbor or relative. The gifts are of food ready to eat.
This may be for example nuts, fruits, and potato chips and so on.
3. The Mitzvah of Matanot L’Evyonim – Charity This is the obligation of giving charity gifts to at least two different poor people.
4. The Mitzvah of Purim Seudah This is the requirement to take part in a festive Purim feast. This Purim party is most joyful. At some Purim feasts a lot of alcohol is consumed.
These parties may also involve wearing costumes. This is a feast to celebrate that the enemy once more was conquered.
New Year for Trees
Four cups of wine at Tu B’Shevat – New Year for Trees This is the day for calculating the age of a tree. A tree is considered to have aged one year on Tu B’Shevat.
This is important according to Leviticus 19:23-25 :
“When you come to the land and plant all kinds of trees for food, then you shall count their fruit as forbidden, three years it shall be forbidden to you, it must not be eaten. And in the fourth year all their fruit shall be holy,.. But in the fifth year you may eat of their fruit.”
Tu B’Shevat is on the 15th day of the Jewish month Shevat (late January, early February) “Tu” means 15th.
This festival may be celebrated by planting a tree and eating fruits native to Israel.
Four cups of wine may be consumed during the blessings at feast this day.
1. The First cup is white wine.
2. The Second cup is white wine mixed with a little red wine.
3. The Third cup is red wine with a little white wine added.
4. The Fourth cup is red wine.
The Four Species of Sukkot – The Festivals of the Booths
During this festival four species are held in the hand while saying a blessing.
The four species are waived to the four corners of the earth, to the heaven above and to the earth below.
“And you shall take one the first day the fruit of goodly trees, branches of the palm trees, and boughs of leafy trees and willows of the brook; and you shall rejoice before the Lord your God seven days.” Leviticus 23:40
The four species used are:
The Sides of the Dreidel
The dreidel is a popular spinning wheel. The game spin the dreilel is traditionally played at Hanukkah. Each side has a Hebrew letter printed on it.
The four Hebrew letters of the dreidel are; nun – gimel – hey – shin. These four letters are the initials for the phrase: “A great miracle happened there.” (Nes Gadol Heyah Sham).
This is the miracle of the oil.
In Israel the letter shin is replaced with the letter peh, making the initials of the phrase “A great miracle happened here”.
How to play “Spin the Dreidel”.
Each player starts with about 10-15 pieces of chocolate, nuts or whatever. Each player places one piece on the table. The youngest player starts the game by spinning the dreidel. Players take turns spinning the dreidel.
Depending on what side is up when the dreidel stops appropriate action is taken. The game is over when one player has won everything.
1. The dreidel lands with nun up: nothing happens.
2. The dreidel lands with gimel up: the player wins the whole pot.
3. The dreidel lands with hey up: the player wins half of the pieces in the pot.
4. The dreidel lands with shin up: the player adds a piece to the pot.
There are four Matriarchs – foremothers.
1. Sarah: She was the wife of Abraham and mother of Isaac
2. Rebecca: She was the wife of Isaac and mother of the twins Esau and Jacob
3. Leah: She was the wife of Jacob and mother to six of Jacob’s twelve sons; Ruben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, and Zebulun. She was also the mother of Jacob’s daughter; Dinah
4: Rachel: She was the wife of Jacob and the mother of two of Jacob’s twelve sons; Joseph and Benjamin Jacob had children with four different women. Leah – Bilhah (Rachel’s servant) – Zilpath (Leah’s servant) – Rachel