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Why is it that when people make kiddush/havdallah they insist on filling up the cup all the way to the top, sometimes till it overflows just a little? Is this a documented minhag/custom etc...?

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4 Answers

up vote 10 down vote accepted

The Rema writes (Orach Chaim 183:2) that the cup used for a berachah (the context is talking about the cup of wine for birkas hamazon, but the same applies to kiddush, etc.) should be מלא על כל גדותיו, filled to the brim.

Though Taz (ibid. :4, end) points out that it is (or was, in his times) quite common to leave a space at the top. He questions the propriety of this, but concludes that perhaps it's okay in order to prevent wine from spilling on the food and ruining it.

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The Ram"a brings down in Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 296:1 that two customs exist entailing spilling out wine at havdala:

  • Spilling during the b'racha on the wine to symbolize having an abundance of wine that is overflowing onto the floor
  • Spilling after havdala to extinguish the flame and "wash [one]'s eyes" to show his love for the mitzva

It could be that overfilling automatically achieves the first one.

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The be'er hetiv in your link brings down various customs- before the bracha, during, the overflow. One can see the reasonings there. –  YDK May 16 '11 at 6:12
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I heard that by Kidush it isn't necessary to fill it all the way to the top (its just a nuisance if it spills) just one should have a "Kos Maleh", a "Full Cup", but that probably means how a regualr person will fill up a cup, i.e with some space at the top.

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"No inyan": source, please? I've heard that there are differing customs regarding whether to fill the cup completely or merely 'normally'. I haven't a source at hand, though. –  msh210 May 16 '11 at 2:07
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A source for this would be nice. –  Isaac Moses May 16 '11 at 2:09
    
Something I heard, I edited it to be clear. –  Ariel K May 16 '11 at 19:35
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See the following article, quoting Rav Tuvia Goldstein, "Remember what is minhag and what is Torah Law," with respect to overdoing the wine-spilling thing. Wasting wine unnecessarily is a violation of Bal Tashchit.

http://www.thejewishpress.com/pageroute.do/15610/

This was in reference to the custom of spilling a bit of wine during mention of the ten plagues. I wonder if it is also applicable to the minhag quoted by the OP.

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Barry, this sounds like it should be posted as a (great!)comment on WAF's answer rather than as an answer to Yoel's question. –  Yahu May 16 '11 at 21:21
    
Many who have the custom to overfill their wine cup do so over a plate so that the wine will not be wasted and can later be poured back into a cup. –  follick Aug 24 '11 at 2:51
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