J-BOM: JPS Commentary on the Haggadah, Pt. 1


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6 Responses to J-BOM: JPS Commentary on the Haggadah, Pt. 1

  1. I am interested in the question of which foods people use on the Seder plate. Most haggadahs evade this question and are vague about it. I find little mention of horseradish and especially prepared horseradish in books that do discuss the foods. I learned Passover with horseradish as the maror. I notice that stores stock up on horseradish for Passover, suggesting to me that it’s use is near universal, though perhaps some use it as something other than the maror.

    I used to be very confused when I was told to dip the maror into the charoset. How do you dip prepared horseradish into anything? Our custom became dipping a piece of matazah with horseradish into the charoset. It seems the original maror was lettuce (hardly bitter and definitely not able to induce tears). I know many people use lettuce today.

    So, any thoughts? How do you use prepared horseradish at Passover? What is the maror to you?

    Also, do you put a chazeret in the Seder plate? Customs vary. If so, what do you use? I use green onions for the chazeret (I love to joke with people new to Passover and make them think we all have to take a huge bite of onion).

    • judahgabriel says:

      My family has been celebrating Passovers since the ’80s. As far back as I remember, we’ve had matzah, parsley, homemade charoseth, homemade bitter herbs (usually a mix of hot horseradish and strong spices), salt water for dipping the parsley. Oh, and the leader’s plate has always had a lamb bone.

      My mom takes pleasure in preparing the most bitter herb dish imaginable; it will really turn you red.

      We’ve never had lettuce, actually this blog post is the first I’ve heard of the use of lettuce in Passover! An odd choice for bitterness, I’d say.

      A few years back, some in attendance were surprised we did not have eggs on our seder plate. Since then we occasionally have eggs.

      An amusing Passover anecdote (I might have told this one before): a couple years ago, I took my son to his first Passover. (I adopted my son when he was 4). He must have been 5 or 6 at the time. He is an outgoing guy. We sat down at the table before the meal started, just getting settled. He immediately spotted some tasty-looking white stuff in a bowl on the table — he must have thought it was pudding or something. He immediately reached a spoon, and gobbled a big gloop of the white stuff. Suddendly, his eyes started watering and his face turned red. It was the bitter herbs, where just a tinch of the stuff will burn your mouth and clear your sinuses. I wish I would have snapped a photo of his reaction, pure shock and horror.

    • judahgabriel says:

      Unrelated: Derek, you forgot to append the “http://” to those last 5 J-BOM blogs. Thus, clicking them will result in a 404 not found.

  2. Thanks, Judah. I fixed the links.

    Say, besides horseradish, what can she put in the bitter herbs to make them worse?

  3. judahgabriel says:

    Good question!

    She always lets us know her new bitter herbs are even stronger than the previous year. But I don’t know what she puts in them, just that it burns and will drain your sinuses. 🙂 Perhaps some pepper powders? I’ll ask her.

  4. Pls add me to the list, Derek. Better late than never.


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