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פסח | The Four Cups of wine and the Four Freedoms by Aurora Mendelsohn

Photo of a wall with the "Four Freedoms" at the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial, Washington DC (credit: BanyanTree, photographer and Hohum, image correction; license, CC-BY-SA)

Photo of a wall with the “Four Freedoms” at the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial, Washington DC (credit: BanyanTree, photographer and Hohum, image correction; license, CC-BY-SA)

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Traditionally each cup in the Passover seder is liked to a promise made by God in these verses, Exodus 6:6-7:


לָכֵן אֱמֹר לִבְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל אֲנִי יְהוָה וְהוֹצֵאתִי אֶתְכֶם מִתַּחַת סִבְלֹת מִצְרַיִם וְהִצַּלְתִּי אֶתְכֶם מֵעֲבֹדָתָם וְגָאַלְתִּי אֶתְכֶם בִּזְרוֹעַ נְטוּיָה וּבִשְׁפָטִים גְּדֹלִים.
So say to the children of Israel: I am YHVH, and I will take you out of 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;

וְלָקַחְתִּי אֶתְכֶם לִי לְעָם וְהָיִיתִי לָכֶם לֵאלֹהִים וִידַעְתֶּם כִּי אֲנִי יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵיכֶם הַמּוֹצִיא אֶתְכֶם מִתַּחַת סִבְלוֹת מִצְרָיִם.
and I will take you to Me as a people, and I will be to you a God; and you will know that I am YHVH your God, who brought you out of the burdens of the Egyptians.

These verses contain four phrases describing liberation:


וְהוֹצֵאתִי
v’hotzeiti — I will take you out

וְהִצַּלְתִּי
v’hitzalti — I will deliver you

וְגָאַלְתִּי
v’ga’alti — I will redeem you

וְלָקַחְתִּי
v’lakaḥti — I will take you to me

The four cups can also be associated with the Four Freedoms first articulated by US President Franklin D. Roosevelt on January 6, 1941, which were an inspiration for the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and were explicitly incorporated into its preamble.

In the future days, which we seek to make secure, we look forward to a world founded upon four essential human freedoms.

The first is freedom of speech and expression–everywhere in the world.

The second is freedom of every person to worship God in their own way–everywhere in the world.

The third is freedom from want–which, translated into universal terms, means economic understandings which will secure to every nation a healthy peacetime life for its inhabitants–everywhere in the world.

The fourth is freedom from fear–which, translated into world terms, means a world-wide reduction of armaments to such a point and in such a thorough fashion that no nation will be in a position to commit an act of physical aggression against any neighbor–anywhere in the world.

That is no vision of a distant millennium. It is a definite basis for a kind of world attainable in our own time and generation. That kind of world is the very antithesis of the so-called new order of tyranny which the dictators seek to create with the crash of a bomb.

(President Franklin Roosevelt, adaptation and commentary by A. Mendelsohn)


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