The great sage Hillel did not eat the bitter herbs separately. Nor did he eat the matzah alone. Hillel lived at the time of the Holy Temple, when eating the Passover sacrifice was a part of the Passover obligations. Instead of eating the three foods separately ( matzah , bitter herbs, meat from the sacrifice) he would make a sandwich combining the three, and eat it while reclining. To commemorate Hillel’s sandwich (“ korech ”), Jews do the same today, eating the Hillel sandwich (minus the meat) while reclining.

Symbolized in the sandwich is Hillel’s positive approach to all the hardships in his life.

The sandwich is a comprised of matzah and bitter herbs . Matzah is the thin bread that represents the freedom we have been granted, as opposed to being slaves of Pharaoh in Egypt. Inside the two pieces of matzah we place the bitter herbs, symbolizing life’s hardships.

Hillel viewed the bitter parts of his life, particularly the hardships of poverty that G‑d bestowed upon him, positively. So, while his life appeared difficult, he was able to understand that it was G‑d’s will and ultimately for a good reason. Therefore he placed the bitterness (bitter herbs) inside the freedom ( matzah ) and ate it while reclining.

haggadah Section: Koreich