Maror-Why Remember Exile?

6 years ago csegal 0

Maror-everyone’s favorite part of the Seder, am I right? During the Passover Seders, there are three obligatory foods that we are commanded to eat: matza, the paschal lamb, and maror. Matza, as most know, is an unleavened bread. When the Jews were leaving Egypt, they were carrying dough on their backs and the sun baked it; the end result was a flat, cracker-like bread that had been unable to rise. Today, we remember this occurrence by eating handmade matza. The paschal lamb, on the other hand, is not eaten today, because it is reminisced of on the Seder plate with the shank bone instead. The lamb was the festive meal that the Jews ate before their redemption from Egypt, thus being an important part of the Seder plate.


What about the maror? What is the significance of the bitter herb that no one looks forward to eating? Why, on the celebration of our redemption, must we eat maror, something bitter?


Some say that we eat maror to remember being slaves in Mitzrayim, or Egypt. This is partially true; however, maror has more meaning than just that.


While we were in Mitzrayim, we were slaves; when we were in the desert, we were free to worship Hashem to our heart’s content. In Eretz Yisrael, when we arrived, the Jewish people were free to follow the Torah until well into the Davidic dynasty’s reign. However, over time, we began to doubt ourselves; all around us, there were (and still are) people observing different things that we, as Jews, do not. In those times, our neighbors would bow down to idols and pray to trees; in the modern world, the majority of those whom we associate ourselves with idolize materialistic objects and ideas. We, the Jews, get scared; we get fearful that others will laugh at us or tease us. If we do things differently than others, then people might notice–leading to self-doubt. Thus, we are all still in exile. In fact, I believe that our current exile is far worse than it was in Egypt. In Egypt, the look of exile was clear; nowadays, it is hidden. However, unlike in Egypt, where it was an external exile, today’s is internal. Our exile is within us; we may be afraid to be a leader, to stand up for what we believe in, or to simply be ourselves. Today, we must break through our shells. We must begin to free ourselves from our individual exiles.


So, how does this connect to maror? We don’t only eat maror in order to commemorate our exile in Mitzrayim; we eat it in order to signify today’s exile as well. The maror represents our daily struggles and our current state of diaspora. Everyone knows that we left Egypt thousands of years ago; but what not everyone is aware of is that we are still in exile. Just because we left Egypt and are no longer slaves to Pharoah does not mean that we are free; we are still slaves to society, and most importantly, to ourselves. In the modern era, we are as much in exile as we were thousands of years ago in Egypt, if not more-so. We are much too attached and consumed in how we are portrayed and obsessed with the idea of freedom; yet, we are not aware of how much our “freedom” constricts us and ultimately, puts us even further down in exile. Leaving Mitzrayim was difficult for many Jews; many kvetched and complained throughout the entirety of the leaving of Egypt, and it seems as if we have not changed.


We’re scared; we’re scared of leaving our very comfortable exiles and we’re scared of going off into the unknown because we are unaware of what lies ahead. However, we must silence our inner fears and do what we have waited so long to do; we must leave our Egypts. It may take long, and it may be a tough journey, but we can do it. If we can do it so many years ago, we can do it again. Leaving Mitzrayim may be difficult at first, but eventually, it will get easier, bit by bit. And then, maybe we’ll all reunite in Jerusalem, our city of freedom; we won’t know until we get there.


Next year in Jerusalem!