The familiar Cup of Elijah is an essential ritual object of every Passover Seder.
Nominally we are told that Elijah, the prophet who will announce the coming of the Messiah, will visit each home and drink some of the wine provided.
Of interest is the recent adoption of a parallel cup, that of Miriam, the sister of Moses, whose presence represents continuity, redemption and the feminine aspect of Divinity.
I believe there may be more to this tradition than meets the eye. No I'm not referring to a wine drinking Jewish Santa Claus either.
It struck me that this cup represents the departed loved-ones who are present when their families congregate for any meaningful reason.
Passover provides such an occasion when family and friends presence around the Seder table trumps even the religious aspects of the ceremony.
Perhaps in times past their was an acknowledgement that our beloved departed participate invisibly during the Seder and the Cup of Elijah was symbolic of that as well.
So I propose that the cups of Elijah and Miriam be recognized as the ritual symbol of the souls of our departed loved-ones who continue to be present in our lives.