When most of us think of maror, or bitter herbs, we think of khreyn (Yiddish for horseradish). But when you think about it, horseradish is not really bitter… it is pungent and spicy. According to the Talmud, the correct vegetable to use is lettuce, probably a variety of Romaine lettuce. Indeed, this is what many Sephardi Jews use for maror, as the Selber family has always done. Of course, Romaine lettuce is not really bitter either. According to Dr. Joshua Kulp, “our pleasant tasting lettuce is the result of two thousand years of cultivation to improve its taste. In ancient times, it was probably far more bitter.”
We now say the blessing, then eat the bitter herb:
ברוּךְ אַתָּה יְיַָ אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ מֶֽלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, אֲשֶׁר קִדְּשָֽׁנוּ בְּמִצְוֹתָיו וְצִוָּֽנוּ עַל אֲכִילַת מרוֹר:
Baruch Atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech ha-olam, asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav v’tzivanu al achilat maror.
We praise the spirit of the world, making us holy through deeds like the eating of bitter herbs.
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