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The Four Cups

והוצאתי אתכם מתחת סבלות מצרים, והצלתי אתכם מעבודתם, וגאלתי אתכם בזרוע נטויה…: ולקחתי אתכם לי לעם..: והאבתי אתכם אל הארץ (6:6-8) Mentioned in these P’sukim are the famous terms H’ uses to describe the stages in His liberation of Yisroel from Egypt. Chazal find in the first four of these phrases a hint to the Rabbinic Mitzvah to drink four cups of wine during the Seder.The Gemora in Pesachim 108b discusses some of the halachos of the four cups. One of the laws mentioned there is that if one drinks them בבת אחת, loosely translated ‘in one go’, he has not fulfilled the Rabbinic requirement of drinking four cups of wine. Rashi explains that בבת אחת means that one poured four cups of wine and emptied them all into one cup and drank it. The Rashbam and Tosafos differ. They say that it means one drank four cups of wine, one right after the other, instead of spacing them out and drinking them in order. The Gemora also discusses whether or not women are obligated in the Mitzvah to drink four cups of wine. The conclusion reached is that they are indeed obligated since they were also part of the miracle of Pesach. (Tosafos point out that without this factor, women would have been exempt since this is a positive Mitzvah bound by time. Even though the four cups is only Rabbinic, all Rabbinic Mitzvos take on the guidelines of Torah-Mitzvos.) The Shulchan Aruch (ibid. 4), rules that women are obligated in the Mitzvah. The Biur Halacha in Hilchos Pesach 472 refers to an argument between the Beis Yosef and the Pri Chadash regarding the obligation to drink the four cups in order. The Pri Chadash holds that one must ensure that not only does he not drink all four cups in a row, but he must also drink them in the exact places that Chazal arranged in the Hagadda (i.e. Kiddush, after Magid etc.). The Beis Yosef argues and says that there is no indication in the aforementioned Gemora that on top of the requirement not to drink them all in a row that one must also remain consistent to the placement of the four cups in the order of the Hagadda. The Shulchan Aruch in Oruch Chaim 472:8 rules in accordance with the opinions of the Rashbam and Tosafos, that בבת אחת is a prohibition not to drink the four cups all in a row. He also maintains his position as brought down in the Beis Yosef that as long as one spaces out the four cups, this is not considered בבת אחת and he has fulfilled his obligation to drink four cups of wine. The Biur Halacha mentions that it is worthwhile to try and act in accordance with the ruling of the Pri Chadash and to drink the four cups at the specific places in the Hagadda, since b’dieved if one does not he has not fulfilled his Mitzvah according to this opinion. He therefore mentions being as it is that women are obligated in the Mitzvah, they should ensure that while they may have many other concerns on seder night, they should ensure that they have heard all of the Hagadda in order to ensure they do not lose out on their ability to fulfil the obligation of four cups of wine, according to all opinions.