108b - Wine

  • Rav Ezra Bick


            Last week we began the sugya of the four cups of wine. We actually learned only one line of gemara, dealing with the obligation of women in the mitzva of the four cups. Today we are continuing the sugya of wine.


            We are on 108b, the first line: "Amar R. Yehuda amar Shmuel.


            The webpage for the shiur is at"



Amar R. Yehuda amar Shmuel


R. Yehuda said in the name of Shmuel: These four cups have to include the amount of a nice cup.

[We shall be returning to this enigmatic statement at the end of today's shiur, when the gemara discusses it. Therefore, we shall presently continue without comment.]


If he drank them undiluted, he has fulfilled (his obligation).

If he drank them all together, he has fulfilled.

If he poured out from them to his family members, he has fulfilled.


"If he drank them undiluted, he has fulfilled."

Rava said: He has fulfilled the obligation of WINE, but not that of FREEDOM.


"If he drank them all together, he has fulfilled."

Rav said: He has fulfilled the obligation of WINE, but not that of THE FOUR CUPS.


            There are four parts to R. Yehuda's statement. In the section I have quoted, the gemara relates to two of them (the middle two) - drinking undiluted wine, and drinking the cups together. The two comments of Rava and Rav both modify the original statement of R. Yehuda, which validated these two ways of drinking, by stating that he has fulfilled one obligation while not fulfilling another. Since we did not expect that there was more than one obligation in the drinking of the cups of wine, these two statements obviously require us to define anew the obligation of the drinking of wine on the seder night. Our task, then, is to understand the terms used to describe the different obligations - "wine," "freedom," and "four cups."


1.         The first case is drinking undiluted wine. It is apparent from the Talmud in several places that the custom was to add water to wine before it was drunk. The usual measure was three parts of water to every part of wine. Tosafot explains that the wine was stronger than contemporary (13th century France) wine, and therefore had to be diluted. (The poskim agree that this is not necessary with wine today - see Rashbam s.v. "yedei yayin".) We must now define what is the obligation of "wine," and what is the obligation of "freedom."


            Let us look first in Rashi on this case.


Sheta'an chai

He drank them undiluted - he did not pour in to them water.


Yedei yayin yatza

He has fulfilled the obligation of wine - for he has drunk four cups.


Yedei cheirut lo yatza

He has not fulfilled the obligation of freedom - in other words, this is not a complete mitzva.


            What is Rashi's explanation of the two obligations called "wine" and "freedom"? In fact, is it correct to speak of two OBLIGATIONS according to Rashi?




            When Rashi writes "in other words," he is redefining the meaning of the word "obligation" in this statement. In fact, one has fulfilled the obligation of four cups of wine on the seder night by drinking undiluted wine, since, in the words of Rashi, "he has drunk four cups." However, there is an added dimension, which Rashi calls a "complete" mitzva, which he has not fulfilled. This is what we usually call "mitzva min hamuvchar," the preferred way to fulfill a mitzva. The meaning behind the drinking of the four cups is an expression of freedom, and by drinking them undiluted, which is not the way that free men enjoy their wine, you have fulfilled the mitzva minimally, but not achieved the full significance of the mitzva. Instead of two obligations, Rashi suggests we should speak of two levels of fulfillment, or two aspects of the mitzva.


            The difference between two distinct obligations and two levels of fulfillment will be whether one has to drink again. Most likely, according to Rashi, one who drank undiluted wine would not drink another four cups, since he has fulfilled the mitzva on a basic level. If, however, we had posited two distinct obligations, then one would be obliged to fulfill the obligation of "freedom" even after fulfilling the obligation of "wine."


            Tosafot disagrees with Rashi.


Yedei yayin yatza

He has fulfilled the obligation of wine - Meaning, the obligation of rejoicing on a festival; for I would have thought that since they enacted four cups, one does not fulfill the obligation of rejoicing on a festival unless one has fulfilled the four cups.


            There is no explicit Tosafot defining what "freedom" means. Based on how he defines "wine," it should be clear how he defines "freedom." What are the definitions of "wine" and "freedom" according to Tosafot?




            Tosafot defines "wine" as the obligation to rejoice on a festival. This is not an obligation exclusive to Pesach night, but applies to all festivals, day and not. The expression of rejoicing includes the drinking of wine (Pesachim 109a). Rava is saying, according to Tosafot, that if one drinks undiluted wine, one has fulfilled the general obligation of rejoicing on a festival. It is clear that the following statement, that he has not fulfilled the obligation of "freedom," means that he has not fulfilled the specific seder obligation to drink four cups of wine. Undiluted wine is wine and is the vehicle of rejoicing, but it is not the wine of freedom and cannot therefore express the theme of the seder.


            According to Tosafot, "wine" is a codeword for the obligation of rejoicing, and "freedom" is a codeword for the obligation of four cups during the seder.


            Since these are TWO DIFFERENT obligations, it follows that if one drinks undiluted wine, which is not a fulfillment of the seder obligation to drink four cups, one would be obligated to drink another four cups of wine. The fact that one has fulfilled the obligation to rejoice on a festival is irrelevant to the obligation to drink four cups of wine during the seder.



2.         The second case is drinking the cups together. Here there is a disagreement between Rashi and his grandson, the Rashbam, concerning what this means.


Rashi: Bivat achat

All together - he poured the four of them into one cup.


Rashbam: Bivat achat

All together - he poured the four of them into one cup - thus did Rabbeinu Shelomo (Rashi) explain. But this is not plausible, for even if he drinks a lot in one vessel it is only considered one cup; for this revi'it (the minimum amount of wine) is only (recorded) in order to exclude less than a revi'it, but more than a revi'it in one cup is considered one cup. It appears to me that this is the (correct) interpretation - all together, not in the order of the mishna but (rather that) he drank them directly (one after the other).


            The Rashbam's argument against Rashi is basically terminological - it makes no sense to call Rashi's case one of "four cups all together," since, once he pours them into one cup, there is only one cup. According to the Rashbam's interpretation, he has drunk "four cups all together," as a matter of descriptive fact; however, halakhically, the Rashbam will claim, he gets credit only for one cup, since the others were not in their proper place.


            Let us see the Rashbam's explanation of Rav's ruling concerning this case.


Yedei yayin yatza

He has fulfilled the obligation of wine - because of the rejoicing on a festival, as is taught further on (109a), "`You shall rejoice on your festival' - how does one rejoice, with wine."


Aval yedei arba kosot lo yatza

But he has not fulfilled the obligation of four cups - and all of them are considered the first cup and not more, and he has to bring three more cups in their order.


            The Rashbam's explanation of "wine" here is like the Tosafot I quoted above. In fact, I have to admit that there is no way to prove that the Tosafot I quoted above was referring to the statement of Rava (undiluted wine) and not to the statement of Rav (all together), like the present Rashbam. The opening line of Tosafot - " Yedei yayin yatza" - could refer to either Rava's statement or to Rav's statement. In other words, it is quite conceivable that Tosafot agrees with the Rashbam that the explanation in Rava's statement was like Rashi (he has fulfilled the basic mitzva but not the complete mitzva) and only here, in Rav's statement, do "wine" and "four cups" refer to two different obligations (rejoicing on a festival and the four cups of the seder).


The argument against this position is that it confers on the expression "he has fulfilled the obligation of wine" two different explanations. The first time it means, "he has fulfilled the basic level of obligation of four cups during the seder," while the second time it means, "he has fulfilled the obligation of rejoicing on a festival."


The argument for this position is in the different formulation of the opposition to the statement "he has fulfilled the obligation of wine" in each case. In Rava's statement, "wine" is opposed to "freedom," whereas in Rav's statement it is opposed to "four cups." The Rashbam apparently interprets the "wine" in each case in light of the opposing term. "Wine" as opposed to "freedom" signifies a lower level of fulfillment, whereas "wine" as opposed to "four cups" must mean that the "wine" does not include any fulfillment of the obligation of four cups, but only some other obligation (rejoicing on a festival). This reasoning is, in fact, expressed by Rabbeinu David Bonfils (13th century Spain, a disciple of the Ramban).


Since it says "he has not fulfilled the obligation of freedom" and it does not say, "he has not fulfilled the obligation of four cups," it is definitely telling us that he HAS fulfilled the obligation of four cups (in the first case). And that which it says, "he has not fulfilled the obligation of freedom" only means that he has not fulfilled the obligation fully, for it is not in the manner of freedom without water.


            If this is true for Tosafot as well, then no one explicitly maintains the position that "freedom" is a necessary condition for the four cups. Although it apparently is a desired component, this is defined as "full fulfillment;" however, basic fulfillment does not require the wine to be drunk in the manner of freedom.


            To return to Rav's statement, why do four cups drunk one after the other not fulfill the mitzva of "four cups"? Read the Rashbam carefully and define the reason.




            There are two possible reasons, and both possibly can be found hinted in the Rashbam.


1. The mitzva of drinking FOUR cups is not defined physically by the cups but by the act of drinking. If one empties four cups one after the other, it basically is only one act of drinking, and so the desired object of FOUR drinkings is not achieved, even though one has consumed a large amount of wine. This basically follows the position of Rashi, that Rav is requiring FOUR cups rather than the AMOUNT of four cups. In the Rashbam, this interpretation would be based on emphasizing his words, "and all of them are considered the first cup and not more."


2. The mitzva of FOUR cups is not defined merely by separate acts of drinking, but by the specific placement of the cups within the seder ritual. In fact, it is possible that there is no importance to the number "four" at all; what is necessary is that there should be a cup for kiddush, one for the haggada, one for birkat hamazon, and one for hallel. This is supported by emphasizing the ending of the Rashbam; "he has to bring three more cups in their order." "Order" (seder) here refers to the ritual of the haggada, and means, "in their proper place."



            The Rif (and the Rambam) have a different version of Rav's statement, where it reads, "He has fulfilled the obligation of freedom but not that of four cups." (Instead of "wine" in the first part it reads "freedom"). Accordingly, it is clear that "freedom" and "four cups" both refer to an aspect of the mitzva of four cups on the seder night. It is necessary to define what these two aspects are. What do you think?




I shall leave the answer to Rav Kahn in his shiur on this section of the gemara.




Pesachim Shiurim

by Rav Yair Kahn


Sheta'an Chai Yatza

            During the time of the Talmud, wine was very concentrated, and was normally diluted with water before drinking. The gemara deals with a situation where one drank the four cups of wine in their concentrated state (chai). While Shmuel rules that he fulfills his obligation, Rava is more reserved, and claims that he fulfills only his wine requirement, not his "cheirut" - freedom - requirement.

            The phrase "yedei cheirut" seems to refer to a requirement specific to the seder night as opposed to a qualification with respect to "kos shel berakha" in general. Indeed, this is the impression one gets from the Rambam (7:7) who connects the obligation to drink the 4 cups, with the requirement to view (or show) oneself as if he was personally redeemed from Egypt. "Therefore," continues the Rambam, "one is obligated to eat and drink while leaning back 'derekh cheirut,' and to drink 4 cups of wine." It follows that drinking undiluted wine, which does not conform to the normal behavior of a free person, lacks this element of "derekh cheirut." Consequently, a basic component of the mitzva of the 4 cups is lacking and one would probably have to drink another 4 cups, properly diluted, in order to fulfill his obligation.

            However, from Rashi and the Rashbam it appears that the basic mitzva is fulfilled, although not in an optimal fashion. Therefore, it is neither necessary nor effective to drink an additional 4 cups of diluted wine in order to fulfill the cheirut requirement. (See Mordekhai.)

            Tosafot (s.v. Sheta'an), in contrast to the Rambam and Rashi, connect the requirement to dilute the 4 cups with the general halakhot which apply any time a benediction is made over a cup of wine (e.g., kiddush).  We will see that this conforms with the general position of Tosafot, who view the 4 cups merely as a specific case of the general category known as "kos shel berakha."


Sheta'an bevat Achat

            Normally, the 4 cups are drunk at specific intervals during the seder.  Kiddush is recited over the first cup.  Maggid, and specifically the berakha of "asher ge'alanu," is recited over the second cup.  The third cup is used for birkat ha-mazon, and the fourth cup for the second half of hallel.  The gemara deals with a situation where one drank all four cups together.  According to the Rashbam, we are dealing with a case where one drank four independent cups, while Rashi explains that the gemara refers even to one who poured the volume of four normal sized cups into one large cup and drank.

            According to the Rashbam, one who drinks all four cups at once has fulfilled the requirement of "simchat Yom Tov." However, he has not fulfilled his obligation to drink the arba kosot. At first glance, this seems odd. After all, simchat Yom Tov is a general requirement that applies to all Yamim Tovim, and, therefore, should be unrelated to the halakha of 4 cups specific to the seder night. Regarding simchat Yom Tov, even ONE cup containing one revi'it should be sufficient.  The answer to this problem relates to the flexible nature of simchat Yom Tov (which will be discussed in greater detail in an upcoming shiur). The halakhic parameters of simchat Yom Tov correspond to the specific context to which it is applied. Therefore, once the halakha of 4 cups was established vis-a-vis the seder night, simchat Yom Tov was defined accordingly (see Tosafot s.v. Yedei). In other words, on the seder night specifically, simchat Yom Tov demands 4 cups of wine. While according to Rashi, this requires a certain volume of wine to be drunk (even in one large goblet), according to the Rashbam the obligation is to drink 4 independent cups.

            Moreover, perhaps the Rashbam considers simchat Yom Tov to be one component of the mitzva of the 4 cups.  In other words, according to Rashi, simchat Yom Tov is defined by the four cups; however, it remains an independent fulfillment. According to the Rashbam, perhaps simchat Yom Tov was actually integrated into the four cups. In any case, it is clear from the Rashbam that the basic obligation of 4 cups was not fulfilled, and therefore another three cups must be drunk in their proper sequence.

            The Rif and the Rambam, however, have a variant text, which alters the understanding of this halakha: "If one drank all four cups together he has fulfilled the requirement of CHEIRUT but not that of arba kosot."  Cheirut, according to the Rambam (as we mentioned in the previous section), is the principal motivating factor for the institution of the requirement to drink 4 cups of wine during the seder night.  One acts out, and actually experiences the redemption, through heseiba (reclining) and the arba kosot.  Therefore, if one drank the 4 cups in a manner that expresses freedom from bondage, he has fulfilled the basic component of the obligation of the 4 cups.

            However, the gemara continues that he has NOT fulfilled the requirement of four cups.  How can this be reconciled with the opinion of the Rambam?  Indeed, according to the Rashbam, the basic obligation of the 4 cups was NOT fulfilled, but, according to the Rambam, the basic requirement WAS fulfilled.  What does the Rambam mean when he writes that "yedei arba kosot LO yatza?"

            Although the principal objective of the arba kosot is to display cheirut, nevertheless, the Rambam agrees that when Chazal established the obligation of the four cups, they instituted that specific texts be recited over these cups.  For instance, although birkat ha-mazon may not normally require a cup of wine, during the seder night it must be recited over a kos (see 117b). In our case, the individual fulfilled the requirement of derekh cheirut; however, he did not recite certain sections of the haggada in the proper manner i.e., over a kos shel berakha.  Thus, he must drink another four cups within the context of the seder to fulfill the kos shel berakha requirement.  This is in distinction to the previous case where one drank undiluted wine - the basic component of cheirut is lacking according to the Rambam and one must drink another 4 cups.

[In other words, there are two distinct obligations; one to drink four cups to show freedom, and one to recite each of the (four) important sections of the haggada over a cup of wine. The first is designated "freedom" and the second "four cups". -EB]

            According to the Rashbam, as long as the proper texts were recited over wine, the main aspect of the obligation of the 4 cups was fulfilled.  If those texts were not recited over wine, the basic requirement was not fulfilled.  According to this approach, the aspect of kos shel berakha is the essential element of the 4 cups (and one need not drink another 4 cups even though the element of cheirut was missing).  This is similar to the approach we attributed to Tosafot in the previous section.