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April 27, 2005

Maror: The bitter herbs

Posted by yudel at April 27, 2005 10:32 PM


One Passover, my mother and aunt made their own horesradish from a fresh root. The horesradish was so strong that it could have peeled paint off of the neighbors houses! Our younger generation ranged from 12 to mid 20's and spread the word to watch out for the strong struff. Except to one cousin who was dating a guy we didn't really like too much.

When we made matzah and horesraish sandwiches during teh seder, we all took very small amounts. My dad loaded one up with a whole tablespoon and passed it to the boyfriend. When we ate the sandwiches, the guy turned purple but was too vain to admit it was too hot for him. We all still albugh about that 25 years later!

Posted by: Louis at May 2, 2005 09:50 PM

There is an interesting detail regarding the "Hillel sandwich." This is what we say at the Seder table: "Thus did Hillel in the days when the Second Temple stood. He took matza and maror and ate them together, to fulfill the biblical prescription, 'With matzah and maror they shall eat it.' "

Now see what the Gemara teaches us:

"Rabina said...: Thus did Hillel say on the authority of tradition: A man MUST NOT make a sandwich of matzah and bitter herbs together and eat them, because we hold that matzah nowadays is a biblical obligation, whereas bitter herbs are a rabbinical requirement and thus... [will] nulify the matzah.... Which [sage] do you know ]to hold] that th eprecepts do not nullify each other? It is Hillel. For it was taught..., [Hillel] used to wrap them [matzah and maror] together, for it is said, they shall eat it with unleavened bread and bitter herbs."


Actually, there are two Hillels here. The one who holds that one must not make a "Hillel sandwich" is Hillel II, the fourth century amora (gemaraic sage) who is best known for establishing firm guidelines for the Jewish calendar. Hillel I, the great 1st century tanna (mishnaic sage), obviously prevaidled in thh argument because it is his custom that we follow.

Posted by: Rabbi Shammai Engelmayer at May 2, 2005 09:43 PM

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