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Chapter 118:1
Preparations for the Seder

1. One should do one's best to obtain choice wine for the mitzvah of drinking four cups of wine [during the Passover seder] (1). If red wine is available that is of the same quality and level of kashrut (2), as the available white wine, then the red wine is preferred for the mitzvah; this is because the verse states: "Look not after wine, when it is red" (Proverbs 23:31), which implies that red wine is considered more significant (3). In addition, [red wine] reminds us of the blood of the Jewish children Pharaoh slaughtered (4).

In countries where the ignorant population foolishly invent slanderous accusations, the Jews refrain from using red wine for the Passover seder.


(1) It is a mitzvah on the night of Passover to act and feel as if you, yourself, were just freed from slavery in Egypt. The Sages established the mitzvah of drinking four cups of wine during the seder, as an outward expression of this newfound freedom (Rambam, 'Yad', Chometz U'Matzah 7:7). Even if drinking four cups of wine will cause someone slight discomfort, such as a mild headache, one is still obligated to do so. One may dilute the wine with grape juice or water (preferably grape juice), but one should try to do it in a way that the alcoholic taste of the wine remains. Also, when diluting with water, one must be careful to use the ratio required to retain the blessing of "Borei Pri HaGofen" (more than one part wine to six parts water; the fact that some modern wines are already diluted must be taken into account). One is not obligated to do anything that will cause him to become bedridden. Therefore, if one is unable to drink any wine (or can only drink a small amount), one may fulfill the mitzvah of the four cups using just grape juice. If one is allergic to grape juice, one may fulfill the obligation by drinking four cups of "Chamar Medina" ("beverage of the country"), which is generally defined as a drink one would serve to a guest even when he is not thirsty, such as alcoholic beverages (make sure they are not chometz), tea, and coffee ("Halachos of Pesach" by Rabbi Shimon Eider, Vol II, pg 220-225; for further details, ask your local orthodox rabbi).

(2) That is, the kashrut supervision of the wine is just as reliable.

(3) Tokay wine is considered red for this mitzvah ( "Halachos of Pesach" by Rabbi Shimon Eider, Vol II, pg 220-225).

(4) According the Midrash, Pharaoh developed "Tzora'at" ( a specific skin disease mentioned in the Torah), and would slaughter Jewish babies and bathe in their blood as a remedy.

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