Wednesday, April 9, 2008


At the time that the Temple stood in Jerusalem, it was Hillel's custom to combine the the Matzah and Maror and eat them together. Today we place Maror between two pieces of Matzah forming a sandwich and eat it. "Korech" means to bind, to wrap, to enfold. No new substances are added to our celebration. Rather, the primary items-Matzah and Maror,the Paschal Offering as well when the Temple stood, were eaten as a unified substance and not as individual items.
It is the act of binding together, of enfolding, that gives this ritual step a unique spiritual significance.

The sandwich transcends plurality and difference.Multiplicity and individuality are preserved.The Maror does not lose its taste; it is only connected to a different enfolding and embracing substance that points to the "divine manifestation" of Unity and harmony.
The Breslav Haggadah puts it best:"In this world we experience plurality. The oneness of all things, the Unity of God as it is manifested in Creation, is hidden. We find it difficult to comprehend how from the One comes the many...Hillel realized that all things are One.( The schools of Hillel and Shammai disagreed on a wide range of issues, but there was great accord and mutual respect between them.) It is the Holy Temple which symbolizes the great harmony in Creation, the elevation of all things to their Source....With the Holy Temple, we experience the unity of humanity, the oneness of adversity and contentment."
Unity is not equivalent to sameness. Again and again, Judaism proclaims the legitimacy and necessity of diversity and individuality under an all-embracing canopy of unity and commonality.Sharing does not mean relinquishing the singularity of one's identity, one's ideas or levels of understanding. We were all created in the image of God yet no two individuals are identical. The Mishnah points out this phenomenon as an expression of God's omnipotence and insuperable creativity.: “Therefore but a single man was created in the world to proclaim the greatness of the Holy One, blessed be He; for man stamps many coins with one seal and they are all like one another; but the King of Kings has stamped every human with the seal of the first human yet not one is like his fellows.”
The Matzah-symbol of freedom suggests in its sandwich form, the capacity of the human heart to gain freedom as it enfolds the bitterness of life in its loving embrace of life's fullness and totality , especially the experience of suffering and pain. "Korech" reminds us that avoidance is not the way of freedom; compassionate encounter and embrace is the path of liberation and spiritual redemption.

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