Passover, like many Jewish holidays, celebrates both a Jewish story and a universal cycle of nature. Every year during this season, we tell the story of Exodus, and also recognize and celebrate dawning of Spring on Earth. In fact, Passover is also referred to as Chag HaAviv -- the Spring Festival.
All of the symbols on our table bring together elements of both kinds of celebration, and the karpas -- usually a green, leafy vegetable, like parsley -- and salt water are perfect examples of this: the karpas represents nature's rebirth, and the salt water represents the sadness of the ancient Jews when they were slaves in Egypt. Greens for Spring, salty water for tears.
We dip the karpas in the salt water twice: the first time to remind us of the pain in the Exodus tale; the second time to remind us that we are a part of nature's cycle, and that it is the Earth's water, air and plants that enable us to live.
[Everyone: Take a piece of parsley and dip it in salt water.]
Before we eat our greens, we recite a short blessing:
Leader: Baruch Atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech ha-olam, borei p’ree ha-adama.
Everyone: Blessed is the force that creates the fruits of the earth.
[Everyone: Eat the parsley.]
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