1) THE REASON FOR FOUR CUPS
QUESTION: Rebbi Yehoshua ben Levi states that women are obligated to fulfill the Mitzvah of "Arba Kosos," the drinking of four cups of wine on Pesach night. RASHI (DH Arba Kosos) writes that three of the four cups of wine correspond to the three times that the Torah mentions the word "Kos" (cup) in the verse in which Pharaoh's wine steward relates his dream to Yosef (Bereishis 40:11), and the fourth cup is for Birkas ha'Mazon.
Why does Rashi give this explanation for the source for the four cups of wine, and not the explanation that he gives earlier (99b, DH Arba Kosos), where he explains that the four cups correspond to the four descriptions of redemption (in Shemos 6:6-7)? (See CHASAM SOFER to 99b, MAR'EH KOHEN on the Yerushalmi, and TASHLUM YEFEH EINAYIM.)
(a) The source that Rashi mentions here is recorded in the Yerushalmi and in the Midrash (Bereishis Rabah 88). It is one of several reasons given for the Mitzvah to drink four cups of wine on Pesach night. The reason of the four phrases of redemption is also mentioned there. The TASHLUM YEFEH EINAYIM suggests that Rebbi Yehoshua ben Levi is the one in the Yerushalmi who says that the source is the verse that relates the dream of Pharaoh's butler, and therefore Rashi mentions that reason when he explains the words of Rebbi Yehoshua ben Levi.
(b) The SEDEI CHEMED (Ma'areches Chametz u'Matzah 15:10) quotes a letter from RAV CHAIM BERLIN, the son of the NETZIV, in which he addresses this question. He suggests that the reason of the four phrases of redemption does not apply to women, because some of the forms of slavery from which the people were redeemed with those four forms of redemption did not apply to women (for example, only the male babies, and not the female babies, were drowned). Rashi does not mention that reason here, because the Gemara here discusses the obligation of women to drink the four cups.
Rashi does not give this reason when he explains the Mishnah earlier (99b), because the Mishnah says that a poor person who cannot afford four cups of wine is provided with the four cups from the communal charity fund. If the reason for the fourth cup on Pesach night is merely in order to recite Birkas ha'Mazon over it, then it should be no different from any other "Kos Shel Berachah," which is not provided to a pauper from communal funds. Therefore, Rashi there says that the four cups are based on the four phrases of redemption. (See Sedei Chemed there.)
(c) However, the way that Rashi here writes the reason for the four cups differs slightly from the way the Yerushalmi and Midrash record this reason. The Yerushalmi and Midrash mention that there were four cups of wine in the verses of the wine steward's dream (the three that Rashi mentions, and the fourth one that is mentioned in Yosef's interpretation of the dream). Accordingly, the words of Rashi are even more difficult to understand. Not only does Rashi here give a different reason than the one he mentions earlier, but he does not quote the other reason precisely as it is recorded in the Midrash. Why does Rashi write that only three cups of wine correspond to the cups of wine mentioned in the verses of the wine steward's dream, and the fourth cup was instituted for Birkas ha'Mazon?
Perhaps Rashi's intention here is as follows:
Rashi is bothered why the Gemara needs to teach that women are obligated in the Mitzvah of Arba Kosos. Why would one have thought that women are not obligated? Women are obligated in all of the Mitzvos of the Seder night. They must eat Matzah, recount the story of Yetzi'as Mitzrayim, and even partake of the Korban Pesach according to some opinions (see Pesachim 91b). Rashi does not accept the suggestion of Tosfos (108b, DH she'Af) that one might have thought that women are exempt because the Mitzvah of Arba Kosos is a "Mitzvas Aseh sheha'Zeman Gerama," a Mitzvah limited to a specific time, because that principle does not apply to the Mitzvos of Pesach, as the Gemara teaches (43b). Why does the Gemara need to teach that women are obligated?
Rashi answers this question and explains that one might have thought that women are obligated only to drink three cups of wine, and not four. One would have thought that they are not obligated to drink the cup of wine which is used for Birkas ha'Mazon, because the Gemara never obligates a woman to recite Birkas ha'Mazon over a cup of wine. Therefore, the Gemara teaches that women must drink four cups, because they, too, were involved in the miracle of Pesach.
In the Mishnah, though, Rashi gives the basic source for the obligation of four cups (they correspond to the four phrases of redemption). This source is more directly related to Yetzi'as Mitzrayim than the butler's dream.
(d) RAV YAAKOV D. HOMNICK resolves the contradiction in the words of Rashi by first asking another question. Why does Rashi here, in his next comment (108b, DH she'Af Hen), offer only the fact that women caused the miracle of the redemption from Egypt but does not mention the fact that they benefited from the miracle (as TOSFOS (DH Hayu) indeed explains), despite his mentioning it elsewhere (Shabbos 23a and Megilah 4a)?
The answer is as follows. The Gemara initially assumes that the four cups are part of the same protocol as Matzah, from the fact that the Mishnah organizes them together. The Gemara assumes that both the Matzah and the four cups celebrate the process of being redeemed. In that context, it is logical to attribute the source for the four cups to the four expressions of redemption.
However, if this is the nature of the Mitzvah of the four cups, then it is obvious that women are obligated in the Mitzvah as well, just as they are obligated in the Mitzvah of Matzah. Clearly, Rebbi Yehoshua ben Levi -- who considers the possibility that women are not obligated in the four cups and thus finds it necessary to teach that they indeed are obligated -- does not accept that the four cups celebrate the redemption per se, and as such they have no link to Matzah.
Therefore, Rashi posits a new basis for the Mitzvah of the four cups. While the Matzah celebrates becoming redeemed, the wine represents the fact that we are now kings in our own right. Now that we have been redeemed from bondage in Egypt, "we are as Pharaoh" with the cup of majesty being placed in our hands. (Similarly, the wine steward's dream that the cup would be returned to his stewardship represents his emancipation and gaining control over his own destiny.)
However, this new understanding of the objective of the Mitzvah of the four cups does not obligate women automatically, despite the fact that they were also redeemed. Rather, it is necessary to introduce a new idea, the fact that they were redeemers themselves, that they were active in bringing about Jewish sovereignty, which in turn entitles them to hold the cup of Jewish kingship, the symbol of having control over our own destiny as servants of Hash-m. (This is related to the previous Gemara that discusses the Mitzvah of Haseibah, reclining, while eating Matzah.)
2) THE NATURE OF THE MITZVAH TO DRINK WINE ON PESACH NIGHT
OPINIONS: The Gemara says that if a person drinks all four cups of the Arba Kosos "at one time" ("b'Vas Achas"), he fulfills his obligation of "Yayin" (wine) but he does not fulfill his obligation of "Arba Kosos." The RASHBAM and TOSFOS explain that "b'Vas Achas" means that he drank the four cups one after the other. RASHI explains that it means he poured them into one large cup and drank them all at once.
To what Mitzvah does the Gemara refer when it says that he fulfills his obligation of "Yayin"?
(a) TOSFOS and the RASHBAM explain that the Mitzvah of "Yayin" refers to the Mitzvah of Simchas Yom Tov. The Gemara later (109a) says that one fulfills the Mitzvah of Simchas Yom Tov when he drinks wine.
The SHA'AGAS ARYEH (#68) challenges this explanation from the Gemara earlier (71a) which derives from a verse that there is no obligation of Simchah on the night of the Seder. The Sha'agas Aryeh answers that although there is no obligation mid'Oraisa of Simchah on the first night, there is an obligation of Simchah mid'Rabanan.
Tosfos (DH b'Vas Achas) asks why the Gemara chooses to relate that one fulfills his obligation of Simchah during a discussion of the Halachos of Arba Kosos. Wine consumed to fulfill the Mitzvah of Simchah has nothing to do with how the Arba Kosos are consumed. Tosfos answers that one might have thought that the enactment to drink Arba Kosos is a rabbinical refinement of the normal Mitzvah of Simchas Yom Tov. Therefore, the Gemara teaches that the rabbinical enactment to drink Arba Kosos is independent of the obligation to drink wine for Simchah.
(b) The RIF and RAMBAM have a different text of the Gemara. Their text reads that one who drinks the Arba Kosos "b'Vas Achas" fulfills his obligation of "Cherus" (experiencing freedom), as opposed to "Yayin." This text is more consistent with the previous Gemara, which discusses one who drinks the Arba Kosos "Chai" (undiluted), who fulfills the Mitzvah of "Arba Kosos" but not the Mitzvah of "Cherus." The Gemara now adds that one who drinks them "b'Vas Achas" fulfills "Cherus" but not "Arba Kosos."
What is this seemingly independent Mitzvah of "Cherus"?
The BRISKER RAV explains that according to the Gemara (109b, 117b), the Rabanan enacted the Mitzvah of the four cups to be "Derech Cherus, and a Mitzvah should be performed with each cup." (Those four Mitzvos are Kidush, Hagadah, Birkas ha'Mazon, and Hallel.) These two elements of the Arba Kosos -- "Cherus" and the performance of a Mitzvah with each cup -- are the two elements which the Gemara here discusses. The first aspect, "Cherus," is the celebration of Yetzi'as Mitzrayim. The redemption from bondage and the rise to the stature of kings is marked by the drinking of wine. (The RAMBAM, in Hilchos Chametz u'Matzah 7:7, writes that the four cups of wine are consumed as part of the demonstration of "Cherus" at the meal.) Besides the expression of "Cherus," the Rabanan enacted that a person should perform each of the four Mitzvos mentioned above on a cup of wine.
Accordingly, one who drinks undiluted wine fulfills only the requirement to perform the Mitzvah on a cup of wine. He lacks the element of "Cherus." On the other hand, if one drinks all four cups "b'Vas Achas," he expresses his "Cherus," but he does not fulfill the enactment to perform each of the four Mitzvos on a cup of wine.
Tosfos and the Rashbam, however, explain that "Yayin" refers to the Mitzvah of Simchas Yom Tov. They understand that there is only one element in the enactment of Arba Kosos -- to perform the four Mitzvos on a cup of wine. There is no separate aspect to drink wine for the sake of "Cherus." The only other Mitzvah that "Yayin" could refer to is the Mitzvah of Simchas Yom Tov. (Although the Gemara on 109b and 117b states that the enactment of the Arba Kosos was for the purpose of "Derech Cherus" as well as to perform the Mitzvah on a cup of wine, the Rashbam there (DH Hachi Garsinan) does not have the words "Derech Cherus" in his text of the Gemara, and hence he maintains that there is no separate aspect to drink wine because of "Cherus.")
(There are a number of practical differences between the Rambam's understanding of the Mitzvah of Arba Kosos, and Tosfos and Rashbam's understanding. See following Insight.)
3) HALACHAH: IS THE MITZVAH OF "ARBA KOSOS" A SINGLE MITZVAH OR TWO MITZVOS
QUESTION: The Gemara says that if a person drinks all four cups of the Arba Kosos "at one time" ("b'Vas Achas"), he fulfills his obligation of "Yayin" (wine) but he does not fulfill his obligation of "Arba Kosos." As mentioned above (see previous Insight), TOSFOS and the RASHBAM explain that the Mitzvah of "Yayin" refers to the Mitzvah of Simchas Yom Tov.
According to the RIF and RAMBAM's text of the Gemara, one fulfills his obligation of "Cherus" (freedom). They understand that the Mitzvah to drink four cups of wine has two elements: an expression of "Cherus," freedom, and the performance of the Mitzvos of the Seder night (Kidush, Hagadah, Birkas ha'Mazon, and Hallel) over a cup of wine. Tosfos and the Rashbam argue that the Mitzvah to drink four cups comprises only the latter aspect.
What are the Halachic differences between the approach of the RAMBAM and the approach of TOSFOS?
(a) The BRISKER RAV points out that TOSFOS (107a, DH Im) says that a person must drink "Melo Lugmav" of the wine for Kidush. Based on the Gemara (108b) which states that for the Arba Kosos one must drink a "Rov Kos" (a majority of the cup, which means a majority of a Revi'is, or a "Rov Revi'is"), Tosfos defines "Melo Lugmav" as a "Rov Revi'is." Tosfos is consistent with his understanding that the Mitzvah of Arba Kosos is no different than the usual Mitzvah of Kidush. In both cases the purpose of the wine is merely to perform a certain Mitzvah over a cup of wine. Therefore, one must drink as much of the Kidush wine as one drinks from each of the Arba Kosos.
The RAN, however, says that a "Rov Revi'is" and a "Melo Lugmav" are two different amounts. A "Rov Revi'is" is larger than a "Melo Lugmav." For Arba Kosos, there is a special requirement to drink the entire cup (one fulfills this requirement when he drinks a majority of the cup, since a majority is considered like the entirety -- "Rubo k'Kulo"). This special requirement is related to the additional element of Arba Kosos -- "Derech Cherus" -- which an ordinary cup of Kidush wine does not have. The Ran apparently follows the approach of the Rambam, that there are two distinct parts to the Mitzvah of Arba Kosos.
(b) The Brisker Rav further notes that TOSFOS (99b, DH Lo) is in doubt whether each person at the Seder must drink four cups of wine, or whether they merely have to hear someone recite the blessing over the four cups. Tosfos says that the recitation of Kidush over the first cup of the Arba Kosos should be no different than the Kidush of every Shabbos and Yom Tov, for which one fulfills his obligation when he hears someone recite the blessing. Tosfos is consistent with his reasoning that there is no element of "Derech Cherus" involved with the enactment to drink the four cups of wine. This is in contrast to the Rambam, according to the Brisker Rav's understanding, who maintains that the Arba Kosos includes the element of "Derech Cherus," and therefore everyone present should drink his own cup of wine.
(c) Furthermore, TOSFOS (DH Shasa'an) asks why one has to drink the Arba Kosos diluted ("Mazug"). The Gemara in Berachos (50b) says that the cup of wine used for Birkas ha'Mazon should be undiluted ("Chai"; Rabeinu Tam explains that this means that it is less diluted than usual). Tosfos concludes that here, too, the Gemara means that the cup is less diluted than usual. The Brisker Rav notes that according to the Rambam, since there is a requirement to fulfill "Derech Cherus" while one drinks the Arba Kosos, one must also enjoy the wine. Therefore, it is logical that the wine should be properly diluted, as opposed to the wine of an ordinary Kidush for which there is no such Mitzvah. (CHIDUSHEI HA'GRIZ, HILCHOS CHAMETZ U'MATZAH)
(d) Perhaps another difference between the approach of the Rambam and the approach of Tosfos may be suggested based on the CHIDUSHEI CHAZON YECHEZKEL (beginning of Arvei Pesachim). The Gemara says that if one drinks all four cups at one time, he does not fulfill the Mitzvah of "Arba Kosos," but he does fulfill the Mitzvah of "Yayin" (or "Cherus" according to the text of the Rif and Rambam). TOSFOS and the RASHBAM explain that "b'Vas Achas" means that one drinks the four cups consecutively, one after the other. They explain that it cannot mean that one pours all four cups into one large cup and drinks it, because then one has drunk only one cup, not four. RASHI, however, explains that it indeed means that one drinks all four cups out of one large cup. Why is Rashi not bothered by the question of Tosfos and the Rashbam?
Tosfos and the Rashbam explain that the Gemara discusses one who drinks four cups consecutively. They maintain that the enactment of Arba Kosos is only to perform a Mitzvah with each cup of wine. Therefore, it does not matter how much wine is in the cup -- the cup can never be considered more than one cup. Rashi, however, perhaps understands the Mitzvah like the Rambam, who says that there is an additional element in the enactment of the Arba Kosos -- to experience "Cherus." The level of "Cherus" that one should attain on Pesach night is achieved only when one drinks a certain amount: four Revi'iyos of wine. Therefore, if one pours all of them into one cup, he indeed fulfills the element of "Cherus."