“4 Seder Cups & 1 Yiddishe Cup” (Insights for the Passover Seder)
THE 4 CUPS OF… MILK?
So what does it mean when we say that a person possesses a “Yiddishe
Cup” (defined as a “Jewish head” or “Jewish way of
thinking”)? The following story on the four Seder cups can fill us
up with a truly liberating lesson on this always timely topic.
A woman once
approached Rabbi Yosef Dov Soloveitchik of Brisk with a strange question.
She wanted to know whether one could use milk instead of wine for the four
cups of the Seder, since she simply couldn’t afford the wine. He responded
by giving her a large amount of money. One of the Rabbi’s students asked
him, “I understand you gave her money because she can’t afford the wine, but
why so much?” The Rabbi explained, “If she wants to drink milk at the
Seder, it is obvious she has no meat for Pesach” (since the laws of kashrut
forbid the mixing of milk and meat). “So I gave her enough to buy both wine
and meat for the entire holiday.”
THE WISE SON & “WARM” REASONING
In my humble opinion, this story paints a priceless portrait of what it
means to be the Wise Son. The Rabbi in this story is known to have been a
great Jewish scholar, who gained a masterful mental dexterity through his
immersion in Talmudic thinking. The Talmud is famous – among many other
things – for beckoning its explorers to recognize subtleties and fine
distinctions, engage in solid logical deductions, and thereby attune
themselves not only to what is being said, but even to what is NOT being said.
The question is, for those who frequently engage in the art of careful,
calculated reasoning, how will their analytical power translate into human
interactions? Will it lead them to respond to another person’s plight with
COLD, unfeeling intellectualism, or will it guide them to find resourceful
ways of WARMING to the task?
THINKING OUTSIDE THE VOICE BOX
Our well-rounded Rabbi of Brisk has elegantly pointed us down the path that
true wisdom should lead us to follow. Delving into the depths of Torah and
Talmudic waters can elevate us in an infinite number of ways. But among the
top priorities of its refining power is that it can teach us to hear what
people are truly saying behind their words – thereby enabling the
listener to discern the speaker’s true needs and respond accordingly with
acts of compassion.
When wisdom is used to serve the purpose of kindness, then a primary goal of
wisdom is achieved. When the mind passes its knowledge through the channels
of the heart, then a primary goal of humanity is achieved. In light of
these concepts, we are now equipped to address our original query: who is
the one with the true “Yiddishe Cup”? It is the one who uses his or her
chachmah (wisdom) for the end goal of chesed (kindness)!
Have a Wonderful & Liberating Passover! Love, Jon & The Chevra
1. Note from 1st sentence: a “Jewish way of thinking” does not
necessarily imply that every Jew thinks this way (nor that Jews have a
complete monopoly on thinking this way)!
Text Copyright © 2010 by Jon Erlbaum and