The bitter herbs, called maror in Hebrew, serve to remind us of how the Egyptians embittered the lives of the Jews in servitude. When we eat the bitter herbs, we share in that bitterness of oppression. We must remember that the legacy of slavery in the U.S. still persists – through racism and particularly the mass incarceration of Black and Brown people. And slavery still exists all across the globe. When you go to the store, where do your purchases come from? Who sewed together the clothes that you bought? Who picked the coffee beans for your morning coffee? We are reminded that people still face the bitterness of oppression, in many forms. As we bless the maror, let us reflect on how we can work to combat slavery and its legacy in all its modern day forms.
The blessing over the maror: ָ
בּרוּךְ ַאָתה יי ֱאלֹ ֵהינוּ ֶמֶלךְ ָהעוָֹלם, ֲא ֶשר ִקְד ָשנוּ ְבּ ִמ ְצווָֹתיו, ְו ִצָוּנוּ ַעל ֲאִכיַלת ָמרוֹר.
Baruch atah, Adonai Eloheinu, Melech haolam, asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav v’tzivanu al achilat maror.
[Blessed are You, Eternal our God, Sovereign of the universe, who has sanctified us with Your commandments and ordained that we should eat bitter herbs.]
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