Bittersweet

The contents of the Seder plate are rich with symbolism and tradition, and reading about the laws and background of the various foods found at the Seder never fails to interest me. Today, I had the good fortune of being sent this extraordinary chiddush by Gershon Hepner, who kindly allowed me to dislay it on my website. I hope that you find it as fascinating as I did.

The prooftext provided by bPesahim 20b for the use of lettuce as maror, even though it is sweet, is that it echoes the experience of the Israelites in Egypt, which started out sweet and end up bitter. The prooftext for the fact that their lives started out sweet is Gen. 47:6:

ו אֶרֶץ מִצְרַיִם, לְפָנֶיךָ הִואבְּמֵיטַב הָאָרֶץ, הוֹשֵׁב אֶתאָבִיךָ וְאֶתאַחֶיךָ:- the land of Egypt is before thee; in the best of the land make thy father and thy brethren to dwell.

Lettuce is therefore a herb to which the opposite of הטוב והמטיב applies, and we should remember, when eating it, that we must bless God even when He seems to be allowing the exact opposite to occur, as He did when He allowed the Israelites to endure slavery after the they had lived בְּמֵיטַב הָאָרֶץ, in the best of the land.”

Gershon Hepner is the author of a book named Legal Friction, which is available on Amazon.com, and is also a prolific poet.

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