[Avodah] The Cup for the Visitor: What lies behind the Kos Shel Eliyahu?

Micha Berger micha at aishdas.org
Tue Mar 19 16:48:01 PDT 2013

On Tue, Mar 19, 2013 at 04:07:23PM -0700, Harry Maryles wrote:
: The source for the Kos Shel Eliyahu is the Machlokes about whether
: thare are 4 or 5 Leshonos of Geula... the 5th Lashon being the word
: V'Heveiso. That would call for a fifth cup of wine...

Actually, if you look through the article...
:  From http://tinyurl.com/cle2efp
: [An article on The Seforim blog by R' Eliezer Brodt. -micha]

    Until 1984 these were the three earliest sources that made any
    mention of Kos Shel Eliyahu. In 1984, Rabbi Binyomin Nuzetz printed
    parts of a manuscript of Rabbi Zeligman Benga on Pesachim. Rabbi
    Benga was a grandson of Rabbi Menachem Tzioni and a close talmid
    of the Maharil, and he died around 1471. Rabbi Benga writes that
    he noticed some people pour a special glass of wine and call it Kos
    Shel Eliyahu. He writes that a possible reason for this is that we
    pour wine for Eliyahu Hanavi, since we are expecting him to come
    and he will need wine for the Arba Kosos.[8] This source helps us
    date the Kos Shel Eliyahu a few hundred years earlier than previously
    thought. Previously, the earliest source was printed in 1692. What is
    interesting about this source is that he was not sure where the minhag
    came from and, again, he mentions no connection to Shefoch Chamascha.

    In 1988, the department in Machon Yerushalayim that prints early
    works of German Jewry printed two volumes from manuscript from
    Rabbi Yuzpeh Shamash (1604-1678) of Worms. Rabbi Yuzpeh Shamash
    writes that it was the custom in Worms at the beginning of the
    seder to pour one extra cup of wine. Just as we say in the Haggadah,
    "Kol dichfin yesev v'yachul," we prepare a glass for the guest who
    might come. This glass is called Kos Shel Eliyahu since this is the
    guest we await. Rabbi Yuzpeh Shamash brings another reason why it
    is called Kos Shel Eliyahu: because it is a segulah to say "Eliyahu"
    to get rid of mazikim [destructive forces], and we do various things
    on the seder night to chase away the mazikim.[9]

    In 1985, a manuscript of Rav Yaakov Emden was printed in the Kovetz
    Kerem Shlomo of Bobov. This manuscript contained Rav Yaakov Emden's
    notes on the Pesach Meuvin of Rabbi Chaim Benveniste. He says that
    there is a minhag to have a Kos Shel Eliyahu but not to pour leftover
    wine in a cup for him -- that would not be an honor for him at all. He
    points out that the Chazal say not to drink from a cup that someone
    else drank from.[10]

And it seems the fifth lashon thing is a bit of reverse engineering. A
way to add meaning to a minhag that existed for more prosaic rasons.

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger             Life isn't about finding yourself
micha at aishdas.org        Life is about creating yourself.
http://www.aishdas.org                - Bernard Shaw
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