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Thursday, March 29, 2012

Rashi's 4 Cups (Part 4: Svara)

From a basic, pshat understanding of Rav, we can answer our question of where the prior existing cup of 4 oz came from, such that the 4 shot glasses are judged to be 4 components of that original cup.

Rav disagrees with Shmuel and holds that if you pour the 4 little cups into one 4 oz cup, it is only considered 1 cup and you have not fulfilled your obligation of the 4 cups.  However, you have fulfilled your obligation of שמחת יום טוב, drinking a רביעית, or 4 ounces of wine. (Note: In general, the מצוה of שמחת יום טוב is only required during the daytime, and the night time is subsumed under the drinking of the day. However, due to the unique nature of the night of the 15th as a ליל התקדש חג, it exists separately from the day of 15th and demands its own שמחה as well as its own הלל). 


The commandment of שמחת יום טוב, of drinking 4 oz of wine, can be fulfilled by drinking done over the course of the meal.  You are not required to drink it all at once, as would be required for a forbidden drinking to be punishable (by lashes, for instance).  The reason for this is that the קיום, the halachik objective, of the מצוה is not in the act of drinking wine itself (in which case it would have had to take place in a short time), rather it is in the effect that wine has on the person by producing a happy heart (which can take place over an extended period of time).


Shmuel in the hava amina held that the rabbinic commandment of 4 cups took the prior existing drinking of  שמחת יום טוב, and demanded that you drink this wine in a way in which it has the property of 4.  Namely, you must divide it into 4 parts and drink those 4 components over the course of the meal.  Since the מצוה of 4 cups stipulates a way of fulfilling the general מצוה of drinking 4 oz of wine,  the 4 little shot glasses are defined as components, relative to the 4 ounces of wine of שמחה.


On the other hand, the maskana of Shmuel maintains that the rabbinic commandment of 4 cups was formulated as a separate, independent מצוה, (not merely a way of fulfilling another more general מצוה).  Therefore, the only way to give wine the property of 4 is through drinking 4 complete cups.  You cannot divide one cup into 4 parts because there is no one cup of 4 ounces to begin with.  In order to have the number 4 included in the cups, it is necessary to drink 4 separate cups of 4 ounces each.

With this understanding of Shmuel, how can we define the machlokes between him and Rav in the case where you pour the 4 smaller cups into one big cup and then drink it? Could we answer our second question on Rashi of how one big cup can possibly count as 4?

17 comments:

  1. Perhaps Rashi is holding that the shem daled can exist in the amount of wine being drunk. The basic unit of wine is a reviis and there are four of them in one large cup. This lends the big cos a shem daled.

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    1. would that explanation work according to the hava amina's way of learning the machlokes (meaning, there are only 4 oz total in the big cup, each little cup being 1 oz)?

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    2. Erm, not really. At the very least it's a bit more difficult to hear the sevara in that case. I hear your point though. Rav should be consistent in how he initially understood Shmuel's statement. If he thought (according to Rashi) that Shmuel meant 1 oz cups and b'vas achas means all 4 cups in one big cup then he should hold that 4 1 oz cups are being poured into the big cup.

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  2. A thought on the machlokus Rav/Shmuel within the hava amina (where daled cosos means 4 1 oz. cups):

    According to Rashi the institution of daled cosos really means the drinking of one cos (4 oz.) with the property of daled. The typical way to engender this property is via drinking 4 cosos of 1 oz. each. Perhaps the question between Rav and Shmuel regards how exactly you understand each 1 oz. cos. One way to look at the situation is that each cos has no independent identity. You have to drink one reviis of wine in a way that has the property of 4 and that practically requires 4 1 oz. cosos but each cos on its own is meaningless. The kiyum of a reviis with the shem daled emerges through all 4 cups but each one on its own is insignificant. However, another way to view the situation is that because a person has to drink 4 cosos each cos is a component of the process with its own identity. The first cos is part 1 in the process of fulfilling the mitzvah of arbaah cosos and so on. It's true that the completion of the mtizvah only occurs when all 4 cosos are drunk but each one has an independent identity as a stage in that process. Perhaps one could support this way of learning by noting that we say a bracha before each cos v'cos (you could argue the hava amina would reject that but I think it's preferable not to have to) and not one bracha to go on all 4 cosos.

    With this in mind maybe we can explain the machlokus of whether you are yotzei if you drink the cosos b'vas achas. The case of b'vas achas (according to Rashi) is where you all 4 1oz. cups in one larger cup and Rashi holds that the mitzvah is to drink a cup of wine with a shem daled. Perhaps Shmuel is learning that each 1 oz. component has its own independent identity, in which case the large cos is not simply a reviis of yayin but rather a cos containing the 4 components of daled cosos. This lends the large cos a shem daled and when you drink it you are yotzei. However, Rav learns that each component has no identity b'fnei atzmo. The large cup of wine is simply a reviis of yayin - there are no independent components to speak of and therefore no shem daled in the wine. If you drink it you've drank a reviis, not a fourfold entity and you are not yotzei.

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    1. According to Shmuel, are you saying that you can just drink one 4 ounce cup and call it 4 components? If so, what defines them as components? If not, how is b'vas achas different from that?

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    2. Maybe I'm a little confused. Isn't that exactly how Rashi understands the case of b'vas achas? You drink one 4 ounce cup?

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    3. So what makes it 4 components and not just a singular entity?

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    4. I'm saying that the large cos has a shem daled because it consists of 4 1 oz. shots. To say that though it seems like you have to be holding that each 1 oz. shot has some conceptual existence on its own. If not, why don't you say it has a shem ches because it consists of 8 1/2 oz. shots or something similar? On first glance though it seems difficult to say that a 1 oz. shot has any conceptual existence. The Torah's basic shiur for yayin is a reviis - what is a quarter of a reviis? To answer that question I'm saying that Shmuel learns that because the mitzvah of daled cosos splits the usual reviis into 4 parts that each one on its own has an existence as one part of the mitzvah. Because the large cup contains 4 of these entities it has a shem daled. On the other hand, Rav argues that it's true that to be yotzei daled cosos you practically have to drink 4 1 oz. shot glasses but each one retains no existence of its own. Therefore to Rav, saying that the large cos has a shem daled because there are 4 1 oz. shots in it is like saying it has a shem ches because there are 8 1/2 oz. shots. He holds that there is no such thing (conceptually) as 1 oz. shot or 1/2 oz. shot of yayin.

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    5. Shmuel's formulation of the mitzvah of 4 cups sounds funny: drink an ordinary cup of wine which halacha automatically defines as a 4 component entity. This is basically a command to drink one 4 ounce cup. I know that this sounds like the facts of Shmuel, but it seems difficult.

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  3. Q about a premise you had in Post #3: you stated that the one thing you can definitely know is "Essentially, you are not drinking 4 cups of wine. You are drinking 1 cup." Then you proceeded to develop your position based on that premise. How did you come to that as a necessary conclusion from the facts?

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    1. Because there is no such thing in halacha as a one ounce cup of wine. A kos is always a reviis.

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  4. that is true, but does that lead one to NECESSARILY conclude that these four 1-oz. cups are all part of one cup? In fact, it is intuitively very difficult (to me, at least) to say that 4 different acts of drinking really constitute the components of one cup. I don't have an alternative approach and I agree that a kos is always a reviis so something else must be going on here.... All I am saying is that the most you can say is that is a POSSIBLE approach, yet it sounds like you are positing it as something we can definitely conclude, which is what I still want to understand.

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    1. you agree that a kos is always a reviis so something else must be going on here....

      it would seem that there are only 2 possibilities. 1) the minimum quantity of a cos according to a hava amina was less than a riviis and therefor different than any other place in the torah, or 2) the smaller cups are parts a bigger one that has the minumum requirement of a riviis

      is there any other logical possibility?

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    2. Joey -
      Another point. It is not just smaller kosos here. Rather it is the ordinary shiur of a kos, reviis, distributed among 4 cups. This indicates that it is one cup with the normal shiur, split into 4.

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  5. Would you say that teh Rambam agrees that there is an idea of a reviis between all of them vis Yayin chai (meaning each needs a minimum of 1 oz of yaaayin chai), ארבעה כוסות האלו--צריך למזוג אותן, כדי שתהיה שתייה ערבה: הכול לפי היין, ולפי דעת השותה; ולא יפחות בארבעתן, מרביעית יין חי.
    whereas he holds that after meziga each needs a reviis, שיעור כל כוס מהן, רביעית.

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    1. the rambam and rif have a different girsa of the gemara than rashi, tosfos, and rashbam, which has significant implications on the sugya. we specifically tried to focus on rashi this year, and we're not holding in the rambam at all

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