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“Teiku” Will Set You Free

You learn something new… goes the old saying. And when one is prepping for Passover, you learn a lot more than something each day, you learn a whole LOT of somethings.

Today I learned about (among other things) “TEIKU”. I learned it from Frum Sarah. You can read it on her site here, but I’ve reposted it below for convenience.


What WILL They Think of Next?

Pesach is coming and a new product is on the market: Elijah Drinks.

Each year you fill Elijah’s cup, invite him to join your seder and drink some wine and then you wait. So far, though he may have quietly entered, he’s never once had a sip of the wine.

Until this year.

With your new ElijahDrinks Cup, Elijah will drink and everyone will see the wine disappear.

And if Elijah drinks this year, who knows, maybe next year we will be in Jerusalem.

Yes, for $29.95 (+ shipping & handling), you too can have this party trick your very own seder.

Slight problem, though. Elijah isn’t really meant to drink from the cup.

[Sorry to break the news this way.]

So if Elijah isn’t meant to drink from the cup, you ask, why is it called the “Cup of Elijah?”

The tradition of drinking several cups of wine draws its inspiration from the following passage in the book of Sh’mot (Exodus 6:6-7):


לָכֵן אֱמֹר לִבְנֵי-יִשְׂרָאֵל, אֲנִי יְהוָה, וְהוֹצֵאתִי אֶתְכֶם מִתַּחַת סִבְלֹת מִצְרַיִם, וְהִצַּלְתִּי אֶתְכֶם מֵעֲבֹדָתָם; וְגָאַלְתִּי אֶתְכֶם בִּזְרוֹעַ נְטוּיָה, וּבִשְׁפָטִים גְּדֹלִים

Wherefore say unto the children of Israel: I am the Eternal, and I will bring you out from under 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 for a people, and I will be to you a God; and you shall know that I am the Eternal your God, who brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians.

One cup of wine for each promise.

  1. I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians
  2. I will deliver you from their bondage
  3. I will redeem you with an outstretched arm
  4. I will take you to Me for a people

What about the fifth promise? The one in the next verse?


וְהֵבֵאתִי אֶתְכֶם, אֶל-הָאָרֶץ, אֲשֶׁר נָשָׂאתִי אֶת-יָדִי, לָתֵת אֹתָהּ לְאַבְרָהָם לְיִצְחָק וּלְיַעֲקֹב; וְנָתַתִּי אֹתָהּ לָכֶם מוֹרָשָׁה, אֲנִי יְהוָה

And I will bring you in unto the land, concerning which I lifted up My hand to give it to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob; and I will give it you for a heritage: I am the Eternal.’

Ah, that fifth promise.

Our Sages were uncertain as to whether that fifth promise of redemption ought to have a cup of win associated with it as it was a promise unfulfilled for the Exodus generation.

So how does Elijah fit into this interesting picture?

Teiku. [Say what?]

Teiku. An acronym of Tishbi Yitaretz Kushiyot U‘abayot that stands for “[Elijah] the Tishbite will answer all difficulties and questions” In other words, when Elijah, who is meant to portend the arrival of the Messiah, arrives, he will answer all questions. In this case, when Elijah comes, he will let us know if we are meant to drink a fifth cup of wine.

Which is the main problem with the Elijah Drinks cup. It turns out that Elijah isn’t meant to do the drinking. AND…there’s the whole matter of the Messiah. If Elijah seems to be present, it would be natural to assume that the Messianic Age isn’t far behind.

And what a HUGE letdown that would be.

[Sidenote: Teiku is also handy when the kids seem absolutely unable to arrive at a consensus.]

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