Tuesday, April 8, 2008


Maror, the bitter herbs , are never eaten without the sweet condiment known as "Haroset," a mixture of sweet fruits , spices, nuts and wine. We all experience bitterness in our lives. How do we deal with those moments of misery, those times of tragedy and trial? Passover, the Seder, suggest that the discernment of sweetness amid adversity can be derived from this practice of mingling "maror" with "haroset." The bitterness of life becomes bearable only if somehow we discover a morsel of meaning and depth from this suffering. God never imposes a challenge we cannot withstand, we cannot bear.
How do we cope with bitterness? However difficult and demanding it may be, we somehow find the strength to recite a blessing, as we do before partaking of the "maror." Our Rabbis indicate that in the same way we recite God's praises when life is sweet, likewise do we bless God when life's shadows cross our paths. To praise God at moments of challenge like death and loss is to transcend the immediate and touch the eternal. Is this not the reason for reciting Kaddish, the prayer said by the mourner after the loss of a loved one? Kaddish bespeaks nothing of death; it is a prayer of praise. Saying these words-"Magnified and Sanctified be Thy Great Name..." stretches our souls to savor the sweetness of grateful acceptance of life's mystery and totality.
As we chew on the harshness of "maror", its bitterness is mitigated, is softened to the point of coming to terms with its severity and being able to swallow the sting of of its pain.
The wholeness of the Matzah restored to its original intactness reminds us of the inseparability of life's polarities, how attached we are to life's ambivalences and ambiguities.Perhaps that is why Hillel suggested the practice of "Korech," making a "sandwich" as the next step along our spiritual journey of redemption.

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