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Chapter 119:2
Laws of the Seder

2. One's servant or another member of the household should pour the wine into the cups. Similarly, each time the cups are filled, they should be filled by these individuals and not by the person leading the Seder himself; this is an outward expression of freedom (1).

One should instruct the members of one's household to drink the majority of the cup in one gulp, and to drink at least a revi'is (2) for the fourth cup (3). They must also have the intent to fulfill [four different] mitzvos: the drinking of the four cups of wine, the relating of the story of the exodus from Egypt (4), and eating matzoh and marror. Women are also obligated to fulfill these mitzvos, but it is not customary for them to recline.

One should recite Kiddush as it is printed in the Haggodos and drink the cup while reclining on the left side.

If possible, it is proper to follow the opinion of the authorities who require that one drink the entire cup of wine for each of the four cups (See note 2).

FOOTNOTES:

(1) Royalty and nobility never pour their own cup of wine. Each person at the table who is performing the mitzvah of drinking four cups, should have someone else pour the wine each time.

(2) A "revi'is" literally means "one quarter" because it is equal to the volume of one quarter of a "log." There is a dispute among the authorities as to what a revi'is equals in modern measurements. The opinions range from 88.7 ml to 150 ml (5.07 fluid ounces).

If the cup is capable of containing only a revi'is, one should preferably drink the entire cup of wine for each of the four cups. However, if one is unable to complete the cup, one can fulfill one's mitzvah by drinking most of the revi'is, a measure referred to as "maleh lugmav," which literally means a "cheek-full" (a quantity of liquid which fills one cheek of an average person).

If the cup is capable of holding more than a revi'is, the Ramban rules that one must drink most of the contents of the cup, whereas the Ran rules that it is sufficient to drink most of a revi'is. One should preferably conduct oneself in accordance with the Ramban, however, if one only drank most of a revi'is of a large cup (containing more than a revi'is), one has fulfilled his obligation ("Halachos of Pesach," by Rav Shimon Eider Vol II, pg 230 (Ch20 E1))

The preferred manner of drinking the revi'is is by drinking most of the revi'is in one gulp, and completing the revi'is in the second gulp. If it takes him more than nine minutes to drink the revi'is, he must drink the cup again, with a new blessing, in order to fulfill the mitzvah ("Halachos of Pesach," by Rav Shimon Eider Vol II, pg 233 Ch20E3).

One should make sure to drink an entire revi'is for the fourth cup, because the "bracha acharona" ("after-blessing"), recited after the fourth cup, may only be recited after drinking a revi'is.

(3) 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).

(4) Relating the story of the exodus on the night of Pesach is a Biblical commandment.

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