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Q&A

Are we expecting Eliyahu to drink the fifth cup of wine?

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Many kids I know (including past-me) think that Eliyahu drinks from the fifth cup at each seder. I've been to several where parents encouraged this belief, perhaps as a way of keeping the kids awake and attentive. (By "encouraged", I mean things like visibly checking the glass to see if the level has gone down.)

My understanding, reflected in most haggadot I've seen, is that we pour the fifth cup because it's a question that is unresolved until Eliyahu comes with an answer. This isn't Eliyahu's refreshment, as I understand it, but, rather, the cup we pour in case he rules that we needed to.

On the other hand, some haggadot (e.g. Silverman) include Eliyahu Hanavi, and I've heard (perhaps incorrectly) that when we open the door at "pour out your wrath", we're opening the door for Eliyahu. These suggest that we might be hoping for a visit -- so maybe we do think he'll partake of refreshments.

On the other other hand, we don't set a place for him or set a chair aside for him like at a bris.

According to our tradition, are we holding open the possibility that Eliyahu will drink the wine? Or is the glass just about the dispute, we don't have a tradition involving its consumption, and the other things I've seen are based in misunderstandings of our tradition?

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4 comments

"we do sing Eliyahu Hanavi": news to me. But I haven't been at very many different people's s'darim. (But I have seen many hagados and don't remember seeing it in any.) msh210‭ 23 days ago

@msh210 oh, thanks -- let me check more haggadot; maybe this is a local quirk. Monica Cellio‭ 23 days ago

I have some family members who will swear that they saw some wine disappear. ploni‭ 22 days ago

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