Passover is coming! In the leadup to this iconic Jewish holiday, we’re bringing you a series of articles and guides to answer all your questions and help with your Passover prep. Sign up for our emails over on our main site to get all our top content and promotions, and check out our Passover gifts category for all your Passover needs!
The Meaning of Elijah's Cup
“Elijah’s cup” refers to the 5th cup of wine poured during the Passover Seder, the ceremonial dinner at the beginning of Passover. It’s meant to honor the prophet Elijah, and unlike the other cups of wine during the Seder, it is left untouched and we are not meant to drink from it.
Jewish tradition tells us that the prophet Elijah (or Eliyahu in Hebrew) will return one day in the form of an unknown guest, and will announce the coming of the Messiah. It is also believed that he will resolve any and all controversial questions and disagreements regarding Jewish law. Upon pouring Elijah’s cup during the Passover Seder, the front door is briefly opened as a symbolic welcoming of the prophet.
Elijah’s cup therefore symbolizes the future coming of the Messiah and the fulfillment of Jewish prophecies. It’s a powerful way of tying together our past with our future – the historical redemption of the Jewish people via the exodus from Egypt, together with our future redemption in the Messianic age.
Even if you don’t connect to the idea of Messianic redemption, Elijah’s cup is also a beautiful symbol of hope and promise for the future – for us, our families, and for the Jewish people.
There is a second meaning behind the tradition of Elijah’s cup: The rabbis of the Talmud couldn’t agree when codifying the Passover Seder as to whether there should be four cups of wine or five; therefore, as a compromise and because all Jewish debates will be resolved when Elijah comes, there was a fifth cup designated with Elijah’s name that is to be filled but not partaken of.
There is a common and longstanding Jewish tradition to have a separate, special cup designated as Elijah’s cup at the Passover Seder – and you can fulfill this custom with a beautiful Elijah’s cup right from our store, along with all the other Passover Judaica and gifts you’ll need.
Can’t decide on the best ceremonial cups for your Seder? Check out our Top 10 Elijah’s Cups and Kiddush Cups for Passover guide!