Seder participants take a small morsel of an ordinary vegetable, dip it in salt water, and recite a blessing of thanks. Each of these elements, that which grows from the earth, the salt water representing the oceans of this planet, embrace the fundamental totality of all life . Taking these items together and praising the Source of these essentials of life bring to our attention the wonder of the ordinary. The obvious becomes mystery, activating a heightened sensitivity to the simplicity inherent in everything.
Our generation is a complex one. Technology's intention to simplify has paradoxically , in fact, only made life more intricate, even confusing. Karpas and salt water return us to our beginnings, to the basics of human existence.Simple food, simple drink, simple taste.
"The ordinariness of spiritual life comes from a heart that has learned to trust, from a gratefulness for the gift of human life... like water which finds its way between the stones or wears them away a litle at a time and gradually lowers itself to the ocean, this ordinariness brings us to rest."(A Path With Heart).
Salt water has been seen as the tears of suffering and sorrow. Amidst the sadness of life however, the gift of the simple and ordinary grants us comfort and hope. Salt water incubates lifelessness.The green vegetable graces our palates with the prospect of renewal and aliveness.
"Simple in actions and in thoughts, you return to the source of being." (The Wisdom the Tao te Ching)
The simple, ordinary act of karpas in salt water speaks volumes of the power of life to conquer death. Passover , after all , celebrates the process of redemption from the salty tears of slavery to the refreshing flowering of freedom, from the confusion of complexity to the clarity of the simple and ordinary.