HEBREW: THE FANTASIA OF LANGUAGE
In the Hebrew language, every letter is not only a letter, but also represents a number, a word, and a concept.
For example, the letter aleph, the first letter of the alphabet, has the numerical value of one. Aleph is also a word which means to champion, or to lead.
The second letter of the alphabet, bet, has the numerical value of two and also means house ― bayit in Hebrew.
Hebrew letters, then, are far more than mere letters, but are actually linguistic repositories for numerous concepts and ideas. Words, too, become not only an amalgam of random sounds, but precise constructs of the conceptual components of the object with which the word is associated.
When we analyze the word Karpas and break it down to its four component parts ― its four letters kaf, reish, pehand samech, ― we discover an encoded message of four words which teaches a basic lesson about how to develop our capacity for giving.
Ka Kaf Palm of hand
R Reish One who is impoverished
Pa Peh Mouth
S Samech To support
The first letter of Karpas means the palm of the hand. The second letter means a poor person. When taken together these two letter/words speak of a benevolent hand opened for the needy.
But what if you are a person of limited means, with precious little to give? Look at the second half of the word Karpas. The letter peh means mouth, while the final letter samech means to support. True, you may not be capable of giving in the material sense, but you can always give with your words. Words of kindness and concern. Words of empathy and understanding. Words that can lift an impoverished soul and provide a means of support where nothing else will do.
We dip the Karpas in saltwater. Saltwater recalls the bitter tears shed in Egypt. But there is more. The Jewish people, though awash in the tears of bondage, were able to preserve their ability to give. Rather than succumb to the morass of self-pity, they were able to maintain their dignity through giving.
Haggadot.com is a project of Custom & Craft Jewish Rituals, Inc (EIN: 82-4765805), a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt California public benefit corporation. Your gift is tax deductible to the extent allowed by law.
Anyone you invite to collaborate with you will see everything posted to this haggadah and will have full access to edit clips.