Passover, like many of our holidays, combines the celebration of an event from our Jewish memory with a recognition of the cycles of nature. As we remember the liberation from Egypt, we also recognize the stirrings of spring and rebirth happening in the world around us. These greens, called Karpas in Hebrew, represent our natural environment. While we celebrate the rebirth that Spring brings, we also dip these greens into salt water before eating to represent the tears and sadness caused by suffering. Not only suffering of those enslaved, but also for the suffering of our Earth. We feel sadness when our environment is not protected from destruction.

If the Earth Could Speak, It Would Speak with Passion
By Rabbi Warren Stone, Temple Emanuel, Kensington, MD

"As you dip the beauty of greens into the water of tears, please hear
my cry. Can’t you see that I am slowly dying? My forests are being
clear cut, diminished. My diverse and wondrous creatures -- birds
of the sky and beasts of the fields -- small and large are threatened with extinction in your lifetimes. My splendid, colorful floral and fauna are diminishing in kind. My tropical places are disappearing before us, and my oceans are warming. Don’t you see that my climate is changing, bringing floods and heat, more extreme cycles of cold and warm, all affecting you and all our Creation? It doesn’t have to be! You, all of you, can make a difference in simple ways. You, all of you, can help reverse this sorrowful trend.

May these waters into which you dip the greens become healing waters to soothe and restore.

As you dip, quietly make this promise:
Yes, I can help protect our wondrous natural places. Yes, I can try to use fewer of our precious resources and to replant and sustain more. I can do my part to protect our forests, our oceans and waters. I can work to protect the survival of creatures of all kinds. Yes, I will seek new forms of sustainable energy in my home and in my work, turning toward the sun, the wind, the waters. I make this promise to strive to live gently upon this Earth of ours for the good of all coming generations.”

Now, before we taste the Karpas, let us each dip into the salt water while those who want to can recite the Hebrew blessing:

ָבּרוּךְ ַא ָתה יי, ֱאל ֵהינוּ, ֶמ ֶלךְ ָהעו ָלם, בּוֹ ֵרא ְפ ִרי ָה ֲא ָד ָמה.

Baruch atah, Adonai Eloheinu, Melech haolam, borei p’ri haadamah
[Blessed are You, Eternal our God, Sovereign of the universe, Creator of the fruit of the earth.]

haggadah Section: Karpas
Source: Adapted from the Earth Justice Seder and The Wandering is Over Haggadah