Understanding Life's Bitterness
Rabbi Shraga Simmons
The story is told of the farmer whose horse ran away. All the people of the village came to console him. "Oy vey, your horse ran away." "I don't know," said the farmer. "Maybe it's bad, maybe it's not." A few days later, the horse returned home with an entire stable-full of wild horses that it had befriended along the way. All the villagers came to congratulate him. "Oh, such good luck ― your horse ran away and now you've got a whole stable full!" "I don't know," said the farmer. "Maybe it's good, maybe it's not." A few days later, the farmer's son was out riding one of the wild horses, and got thrown off ― breaking his leg. All the villagers came to console him. "Oy vey, your son broke his leg." "I don't know," said the farmer. "Maybe it's bad, maybe it's not." A few days later, the government sent representatives to the village with orders to draft every able-bodied young man into the army. All the sons were taken away, except for the farmer's son who had a broken leg. "Now I know," said the farmer. "It's good that my horse ran away."
The commentators ask: Of the three items in the Haggadah ― "Passover, Matzah and Marror" ― why is Marror listed last? Passover and matzah are symbols of our freedom ― while Marror, which represents slavery, should chronologically be listed first! Marror is mentioned last because human nature is such that ― even though we intellectually may know that the bitterness is ultimately for the best, still we can't appreciate it while we're "in it" ― rather only when looking back!
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