Extract of an article in Issue 1, April 28, 2008 of The Jerusalem Report. To subscribe to The Jerusalem Report click here. When you think of Passover you think of wine: all four cups. Why wine? You can give a variety of intricate mystical interpretations for each of the four cups as well as for wine in general, but a big part of it is that wine was seen as an important part of rejoicing. Not just at Passover. "Ain simha ela b'yayin," the Talmudic sages taught, there's no celebration without wine. There it is at a wedding or a brit milah (circumcision), at kiddush and havdalah, on Shabbat and festivals. And while rabbinic literature is replete with warnings against intoxication, it could seem like "there's no celebration without wine" is a prescription for danger. If it is a prescription. In a discussion of the Passover Seder (Pesahim 109a), the Talmud cites the commandment, "You shall rejoice in your festival: you, and your son and your daughter, your male servant and your female servant, the Levite and the stranger and the orphan and the widow within your gates." (Deut. 16:14) Why does the text read "You shall rejoice" with the verb in the second person singular and then go on to list a whole range of people? It is to teach us that anyone you have responsibility for - your whole extended household - has to rejoice, and their joy is your responsibility as well. How do you do that? One opinion is that joy means wine, so you give them wine. But there's another opinion: You give them what makes sense for them. You give them what would make them happy, and for men that happens to be wine just as for women (the Talmudic text goes on to say) it happens to be new clothes. Set aside the gross gender-role stereotyping and see how remarkable a claim is being made: Part of my observance of the festival is knowing what makes you tick. What is being suggested is a ritual of empathy, and it makes sense in this context, for while it's always a pleasure to get something, it's a real pleasure when you know that the giver has paid attention to what you'd like to get. Empathy takes on a heightened importance on Passover itself. Contributing editor Rabbi Joshua Gutoff writes, studies and teaches in New York. Extract of an article in Issue 1, April 28, 2008 of The Jerusalem Report. To subscribe to The Jerusalem Report click here.