108b - More Wine

  • Rav Ezra Bick


            I trust that the learning we have done, before Pesach, proved useful and illuminating during Pesach, and enhanced your appreciation of the seder. Now, after a few weeks of vacation, we return to our study of Pesachim.


            We are in the middle of a sugya discussing the four cups of wine (108b). In the previous shiur, we examined the possibility that there is more than one aspect to the mitzva of four cups ("wine," "freedom," kos shel beracha"). The entire sugya on 108b consists of analysis of the complex statement of Rav Yehuda that appears at the beginning of the page. Today, we return to that statement and continue the Gemara's analysis of it.


            We begin with the last word of the seventh line in the gemara ("hishka….").


            The accompanying webpage is found at



            and includes a scan of the original page, a typed transcription of the Hebrew with a translation, and other source material. I remind you again that questions asked during the course of the shiur are meant to be answered independently before continuing in your reading.


A. The gemara


Hishka meihein livanav

If he poured out from them (the four cups) for his sons and household, he has fulfilled (the obligation).

Rav Nachman bar Yitzchak said: This is provided they drink a majority of the cup.


            Amazingly, there is no Rashi or Rashbam on this statement. We shall have to do more work on our own.


            What is the point of the original statement? (In the traditional language of learning, we would ask, what is the chiddush?  "Chiddush" means "novelty," something new and unknown before the statement).


            It seems clear that there is only one cup here, which is being shared by the head of the family and the rest. If that is true, then only one person can apparently drink "a majority of the cup." If "a majority of the cup" is the amount of wine that need be drunk for each of the four cups, this would imply that it is not necessary for each person to drink four cups of wine.



B. Tosafot


            This is the conclusion reached (tentatively) by the Tosafot. This Tosafot is found not here, but at the beginning of the chapter (99b, s.v. "lo yifchitu" [2]). Let us take a look at that Tosafot. The mishna there states that even one dependent on charity should be provided with four cups of wine. Tosafot comments:


Lo yifchatu lo mei-arba kosot

They should not provide him with less than four cups.

From this language it is somewhat implied that they do not give to his sons and household, but only to him, and he discharges the obligation for each of them with his (cup). And this is logical, for why are the four cups different than kiddush of the whole year where one discharges the obligation all of the others.


            Tosafot proceeds to debate the assumption at the end of this statement - that for the regular kiddush of Shabbat, it is sufficient if one person makes kiddush and drinks, without the other participants drinking. We shall not follow that debate, accepting the correctness of the assumption, which is the accepted position of most commentators and poskim, based on a gemara in Eiruvin (quoted by Tosafot). It is rather Tosafot's comparison of the four cups to kiddush that will concern us. Tosafot is stating that there is no difference in principle between the single cup of kiddush and the four cups of Pesach.


            This position of Tosafot assumes that the four cups of wine on Pesach are four "kosot shel beracha;" i.e., four recitations which, like various other recitations in Jewish liturgy, are uttered over a cup of wine. The wine enhances the festivity of the recitation. Drinking the wine is not itself the goal. Hence, since it is possible to have recitation for a group of people, and the recitation (by the reader) was made over a cup of wine, all the listeners have fulfilled their obligation. In our case, that obligation is, kiddush, reciting the haggada, birkat hamazon, and hallel.


            Tosafot reads this conclusion directly into our gemara.


The gemara states, "if he poured out from them (the four cups) for his sons and household, he has fulfilled (the obligation), provided he drinks a majority of the cup." This implies that they fulfilled their obligation through listening, for a majority of a cup is necessary. Also, it is implied that normally he would not have poured out for them.


            Compare this quotation of our gemara with the original citation above. There is a crucial difference. What is it?




            The gemara text of Tosafot reads "provided HE drinks a majority of the cup." In our gemara, the verb is in the plural - "provided they drink a majority of the cup."


Tosafot proves his interpretation of the gemara (as well as the textual variant) with two points:


            1. "… for a majority of a cup is necessary;"

            2. "Also, it is implied that normally he would not have poured out for them."


            Explain the two arguments.




            1. "… for a majority of a cup is necessary." Tosafot is stating that the obligation to drink requires a majority of a cup. It is therefore impossible that more than one person fulfill an obligation to drink from one cup. Hence, only the original reader has actually drunk, and nonetheless, they all have fulfilled their obligation.


            2. "Also, it is implied that normally he would not have poured out for them." Tosafot understands that he has fulfilled his obligation DESPITE pouring out for them (rather than because he poured out for them). The "chiddush" is that he need not drink the entire cup; rather, a majority of the cup is sufficient, and he may give out a taste to the others, if he chooses to do so.


            Tosafot continues and suggests another understanding of our gemara that would undermine his assertion that the other participants do not need to drink.


However, it can be argued contrarily that they each have their own cups, or, alternatively, that it is a case of "sons and household" who are minors and not of the age of education (i.e.; they are not obligated), and his wife is not included.


            This interpretation is consistent with Tosafot's reading of the gemara as stating that the reader alone drinks, and has fulfilled his obligation DESPITE having given small amounts of wine to others. Those others either drink their own cups independently of what he has given them, or are minors who need not drink at all.


            Tosafot continues to debate this point. His conclusion, based on the lack of a conclusive proof, is that it is best to provide a cup for each participant.



C. The Ran


            The Ran has a different understanding of the gemara.


Hishka meihein livanav

If he poured out from them for his sons and household, he has fulfilled -

In other words, all the obligated participants have fulfilled their obligations. It is speaking of a cup that holds many required quantities.

This is provided they (notice - "THEY") drink a majority of the cup - In other words, each one drinks a majority of a revi'it, and the chiddush is that each one does not need a separate cup of his own.


            According to the Ran, each participant must drink the required amount of wine, which he defines as "a majority of a revi'it." The talmudic expression was "a majority of the cup." The Ran is reinterpreting this to mean "the majority of a normal cup." In order for many people to each drink a majority of a revi'it from one cup, the cup must be unusually large. Although the standard cup holds a revi'it (and hence the expression "majority of a cup" in our gemara means "a majority of a revi'it") the particular cup being used in our case holds much more.


            The difficulty with this reading is obvious, but it eliminates totally the problem raised by Tosafot. In fact, the Ran is worried that it eliminates too many problems, and leaves nothing as the "chiddush." Hence he explains that the chiddush is that it is sufficient that each person drinks the required amount of wine, but it is not necessary that each have a distinct personal cup.


            According to the Ran, the four cups of wine on Pesach are not analogous with kiddush. The reason is undoubtedly that there is a separate requirement to drink wine on Pesach, distinct from the requirement to recite various texts over wine (which is what we called "freedom" in the previous shiur). There is no way that one person can discharge the obligation of another to drink. Unlike recitation, drinking must be fulfilled personally, and there is no way around this personal obligation.


            Thus, the disagreement of the Tosafot and the Ran concerns the nature of the obligation to drink wine during the seder. According to the Ran, this is an independent mitzva, and not merely an accompaniment to the texts recited as part of the haggada. According to Tosafot, the basic obligation is to recite certain texts, which are instituted over a cup of wine (which consequently must be drunk). Since the obligation of reciting texts can be fulfilled by one person with the others listening, it is only necessary for the reader to drink.



D. The Required Amount of Wine


            The gemara (107a), speaking about kiddush, states that one must drink an amount of wine defined as "melo lugmav," an amount which fills ones cheeks.


Rav Huna said in the name of Rav, and this was also taught by Rav Gidel from Narash: One who made kiddush and tasted melo lugmav has fulfilled (his obligation), and if not, he has not fulfilled.


            Tosafot on our gemara, commenting on the words "a majority of the cup," writes:


Ruba d'kasa

A majority of the cup - this is melo lugmav, as I explained earlier. However, it is preferable to drink a revi'it.


            This Tosafot is based on one found on 107a, concerning the phrase "melo lugmav."


Im taam melo lugmav yatza

If he tasted melo lugmav, he has fulfilled - As explained in Yoma (80a), this means that if he pushed the wine to one side, it appears that his cheeks are full. And this is less than a revi'it, as is said there (Yoma), but (two) full cheeks is more than a revi'it. It would appear that it is a majority of a revi'it, for we find later (108b), "this is provided they drink a majority of the cup." And this is for a normal person, but for Og King of Bashan (a giant), more is needed, as is written there (Yoma).


            How does Tosafot reach his conclusion, based on our gemara, that melo lugmav is a majority of a revi'it?




            The answer is that Tosafot has identified the expression "cup" with the standard size of a revi'it. Hence, our gemara, which states that he must drink "a majority of the cup", means that he must drink "a majority of a revi'it." The gemara on 107a states that he must drink melo lugmav. Tosafot therefore reaches the conclusion that the two amounts are identical. This is based on the assumption, which we saw above in Tosafot, that the obligation of the four cups and the obligation of kiddush are analogous.


            Conceptually, however, a majority of a revi'it and melo lugmav are not identical. The first is an absolute amount, while the second is based on the individual. Tosafot concedes this point, and states that a giant must drink more than a majority of a revi'it in order to reach his own melo lugmav. Hence, our gemara's use of the phrase "majority of the cup," which means "majority of a revi'it," is not technically accurate, and is based on the fact that for a normal person, a majority of a revi'it is in fact equivalent to melo lugmav.


            The Ran (107a) states explicitly that the amount needed for kiddush (melo lugmav) and the amount needed for the four cups of Pesach (a majority of the cup) are not equivalent. This follows from his rejection of Tosafot's assumption about the analogous nature of the four cups and kiddush. Kiddush requires tasting, which is defined by melo lugmav. The four cups require drinking an amount of wine that will express freedom, and this is defined as four cups (where there is a minimum definition of a cup - revi'it). In general, there is a majority rule in halakha - "rubo k'kulo" (a majority is equivalent to the totality), so drinking a majority of a cup is sufficient.


            Since the standard cup is a revi'it, according to the Ran one must drink a majority of a revi'it for each cup (which may very well be less than melo lugmav, unlike Tosafot). For the first cup, which is both the first of the four cups and also kiddush, the Ran states that one must drink melo lugmav in order to fulfill the obligation of kiddush, aside from a majority of a revi'it in order to fulfill drinking a seder cup. However, for the other cups, a majority of a revi'it is sufficient.


            Since Tosafot (on 99b) is correct that for kiddush only the reader has to drink, it would also follow from the Ran that even for the first cup, only the one who recited kiddush would need to drink melo lugmav, while every one else would only need to drink a majority of a revi'it. They all fulfill the mitzva of kiddush by hearing the kiddush from one who recites it and drinks melo lugmav, and then each one fulfills the mitzva of the four cups by drinking a majority of a revi'it. (This argument is a bit complicated. Make sure you understand it, since it follows logically from the arguments presented in this shiur).


            In fact, there are commentators who require that for the four cups one drink a majority of the cup, no matter how big it is (quoted by the Meiri 108b). Revi'it is the MINIMUM size of a cup, but there may be more, and in such a case one must drink the cup, which is accomplished by drinking a majority (since we follow the majority rule). This follows from the definition of the four cups according to the Ran, as I defined it above. But most commentators (apparently including the Ran himself), agree that one who has drunk a majority of a revi'it has drunk a cup of wine, even if the actual cup he held in his hand was larger. This is especially true according to the Ran, who, as we saw above, does not require that there be an actual cup for each drinker. The leader gives his cup to each person, and each drinks a majority of a revi'it from it.




Home exercise:

The Tosafot on 99b argues back and forth the position that only the reader needs to have four cups. I have posted an English, unpunctuated, version of this Tosafot at:


Copy this version into your word processor and punctuate it. More importantly, divide it into the defense of the original position and the opposing position. This is the process that anyone learning Tosafot would have to do.

My version of the answer to this exercise is posted on the same page. After you finish, compare your version to mine.