The word "karpas" comes from the Greek word for "appetizer". The use of a spring vegetable symbolizes rebirth, renewal, and of course the spring season in which Passover occurs. The salt water symbolizes the tears of our people as they suffered under slavery in Egypt.
Take a small amount of a spring vegetable, such as parsley. Dip it into salt water while reciting the blessing:
.בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יי אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, בּוֹרֵא פְּרִי הָאֲדָמָה
Baruch Atah Adonai, Eloheinu melech ha’olam, borei p’ri ha’adamah.
Blessed are You, Lord, our God, Ruler of the universe, who creates the fruit of the earth.
For other appetizers, like boiled eggs in salt water, or gefilte fish in horseradish:
.בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יי אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם שֶׁהַכֹּל נִהְיָה בִּדְבָרוֹ
Baruch atah A-donay, Elo-heinu Melech Ha’Olam shehakol nihiyah bed'varo.
Blessed are You, Lord our God, Ruler of the universe, by Whose word all things came to be.
Eat the appetizer.
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