Small pieces of horseradish are dipped into the haroset to indicate that over- emphasis on material things results in bitterness. Why is it that we must taste the bitter taste of these herbs? Based on stories and teachings, it is said that we taste the bitter herbs to be able to metaphorically feel the bitterness that the Jews felt when they were enslaved. The Egyptians embittered the lives of our ancestors in Egypt. It is said, “They made their lives bitter through hard labor, with mortar and brick and all kinds of work in the field. All their labor was carried out under conditions of excessive force.” (Exodus 1:14) Marror represents the bitterness of the slaves in Egypt. Just as it embitters our taste, the Egyptians embittered their lives.
Sfas Emes explains that Marror teaches us that, like the Exodus, the exile itself orchestrated by God for our benefit. Marror also alludes to the toil that a person must be ready to invest in order to achieve personal growth. Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch explains that we became a nation in a foreign country, tortured with no rights, and with no foreseeable future. God tells us, “Through your blood you shall live.” The beauty of Marror is to feel the pain and to feel the joy.
It is a custom to use lettuce because it is sweet first and bitter later. Although vice and iniquity may seem sweet at first, they ultimately reveal themselves to be bitter.
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