Honorable Mensch-ion

Five Cups of Freedom

The Passover seder is famous for the number four.

Four questions, four children, and four cups of wine. The Rabbis point to the verse in Exodus that describes God bringing the Israelites out of Egypt using four distinct words.

God brought out, God delivered, God redeemed, and God took.

Each one of these words has a unique characteristic that adds to the complexity of the narrative. One refers to the physical freedom from bondage, another the psychological freedom, and another the theological exodus from Egypt.

Yet, a close reading of the Torah notices one extra word. Heveiti, meaning “I brought,” refers to the Israelite’s journey into the Promised Land. In that case, on the Seder Night, we should be drinking 5 cups, and not only four.

The fifth word, related to the land of Israel, is the forgotten cup. Yet, we also know that the land is of utmost importance to our journey in the generations to come. Thankfully, that fifth cup does appear-as Elijah’s cup, the cup that has the ability to bring the Messianic era.

Perhaps it is not a coincidence that we enter the month of Shevat at this time. Tu Bishvat, the festival of the trees, also focuses on the theme of the fifth cup. Redemption of the land. It is not enough to enter and say we are there, but we also must work the land and make it bloom. That was David Ben-Gurion’s dream, and that is why he is buried in Sde Boker, in the middle of the desert, where he believed the future lies.

It is a beautiful thing to witness the many missions to Israel. They are very different than trips in the past. Not one mission is complete without working in the fields, going back to the values of the original chalutzim, pioneers.

This past week, Sinai Temple began a campaign to continue this important work. Nora Rakow celebrated her second bat mitzvah last Shabbat, and her charge to us was to plant, plant, and plant again. Take a moment during this week, and fulfill the mitzvah of planting a tree in Israel with your Sinai family.

Let us be inspired by Nora, for when we plant, we will at last drink that fifth cup of wine, full of sweetness, full of love, and full of hope for the land and people of Israel.

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