There are many explanations for the four cups of wine we drink during the Passover Seder. Wine being a royal drink, it’s only appropriate that it be imbibed on the holiday when we celebrate our freedom from Egyptian bondage and sit, relaxed and in a reclining position.

In the Hagadah, we recall G-d’s promises from Exodus…

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1.) “I shall take you out…”

2.) “I shall rescue you…

3.) “I shall redeem you…”

4.) “I shall bring you…”

But other interpretations have made reference to the four matriarchs: Sarah, Rivkah, Rachel and Leah and their remarkable efforts and contributions.

Another interesting take is that the words, “cup of wine” are mentioned four times in Pharaoh’s butler’s dream and according to Midrash, these cups of wine alluded to the Israelites’ liberation.

Also, four is dalet and what does dalet mean in Hebrew? Door (דלת). A door is an opening, a way to escape and also where does a door fit into our Passover story? You bet, we open the door for Elijah.

Of course the number 4 has many special meanings in Judaism. After all there are four corners on tallit, four sons and four questions both referred to in the Hagadah and of course The Fantastic Four. Wait! Huh? Well, yes.

The Fantastic Four were, of course, created by two Jewish men—Jack Kirby (born Jacob Kurtzberg) and Stan Lee (born Stanley Martin Lieber.)

When I teach kids in my Zayin class (seventh grade) about the four cups of wine, I always try and make it fun and give them references that they would relate to. But how, you may ask, do the Fantastic Fours’ super powers, relate to the story of Exodus? What qualities do they possess that play a role in the Passover story?

Well, here you go…

Mr. Fantastic (Reed Richards): A scientific genius, can stretch, twist and re-shape his body to inhuman proportions.

Moses shows leadership and led the people out of Egypt. To be a leader one need to be super flexible.

Invisible Woman (Susan Storm), Reed Richards' girlfriend (and eventual wife) has the ability to bend and manipulate light to render herself and others invisible. She also has the ability to generate force fields.

G-d protects us like a force field when leaving Egypt.

The Human Torch (Johnny Storm), Sue Storm's younger brother, possesses the ability to control fire, allowing him to project fire from his body, as well as the power to fly.

How does Fire play a role in the story? G-d sometimes becomes fire to lead us out through the desert.

The Thing (Ben Grimm), a monstrous, craggy humanoid with orange, rock-like skin and super-strength. Made of Earth.

What’s made of stone? The tablets are as is Mt. Sinai.

Now before you scoff and say this is a stretch (no pun intended Mr. Fantastic) the Jewish roots of these four are written into their pages. After all The Thing’s real name is Benjamin Jacob Grimm and yes, he even had a Bar Mitzvah.

This from Wikipedia…

In keeping with an early taboo in the comic superhero world against revealing a character’s religion, the fact that Grimm was Jewish was not explicitly revealed until four decades after his creation, in the story, “Remembrance of Things Past” (in Fantastic Four, vol. 3, #56, August 2002). In this story, Grimm returns to his old neighborhood to find Mr. Sheckerberg, a pawn shop owner he had known as a child. Flashbacks during this story reveal Grimm’s Jewish heritage, and he even recites the Kaddish, the Jewish prayer often recited over the dead and dying, over the dying Sheckerberg, who eventually recovers. In a later story, Grimm even agrees to celebrate his Bar Mitzvah, since it has been 13 years (the age a Jewish boy celebrates his Bar Mitzvah) since he began his “second life” as the Thing. To celebrate the ceremony, Grimm organizes a poker tournament for every available superhero in the Marvel Universe.

1976 Hannukah card by Jack Kirby, co-creator of The Thing

Wow, that must have been some game!

Hag Pesach Sameach!

Abe Novick is a writer and communications consultant.

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