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Is there a specific way to hold the Kiddush cup?

by Rabbi Simcha Bart

  

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It is customary to hold the Kiddush cup by its bottom in the palm of one's hand.

This custom practiced by many Chassidim is Kabbalistic in origin. The different letters of the Tetragrammaton correspond to different parts of the body. The palm corresponds to the letter yud, and the five fingers correspond to the letter hay. Putting the cup into the palm surrounded by the fingers, is an allusion to these first two letters of G-d's name.1

Rabbi Adin (Steinsaltz) Even-Yisrael writes the following:

The Kiddush cup symbolizes the vessel through which, and into which, the blessing comes. The numerical value of the Hebrew word for drinking cup kos is the same as that of the name of god Elokim which expresses the divine revelation in the world, in nature, in law. And into the cup is poured the bounty, the wine, whose numerical value is seventy, the number of the Shabbat Eve. After the filling of the cup, which is now the vessel of consecration containing the divine plenty, it is placed on the palm of the right hand in such a way that the cup, supported by the upturned fingers, resembles or recalls a rose of five petals. For one of the symbols of Malkhut is the rose. And the cup of wine, thus expressing also the Shekhinah, stands in the center of the palm and is held by the petal fingers of the rose.

Footnotes

  • 1. Pri Etz Chayim (by the Arizal), Shabbat section ch. 16.

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Shabbat
(pl: Shabbatot). Hebrew word meaning "rest." It is a Biblical commandment to sanctify and rest on Saturday, the seventh day of the week. This commemorates the fact that after creating the world in six days, G-d rested on the seventh.
Chassidim
(Pl.: Chassidim; Adj.: Chassidic) Following the teachings of Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov (1698-1760), the founder of "Chassidut." Chassidut emphasizes serving G-d with sincerity and joy, and the importance of connecting to a Rebbe (saintly mentor).
Kiddush
Prayer recited at the beginning of the Sabbath or Holiday meal--both the evening and afternoon meals. This prayer, acknowledging the sanctity of the day, is recited over a cup of wine or grape juice.
Kabbalistic
(adj.) Pertaining to Kabbalah—Jewish mysticism.
Yisrael
1. Additional name given by G-d to Patriarch Jacob. 2. A Jew who is not a Kohain or Levi (descendant of the Tribe of Levi).
G-d
It is forbidden to erase or deface the name of G-d. It is therefore customary to insert a dash in middle of G-d's name, allowing us to erase or discard the paper it is written on if necessary.