Toralationships: Maror Moments

THE MAROR: WHAT DO YOU DO WITH IT?

OK……. Who has leftover matzoh? Who doesn’t? Rare is the home that does not have boxes and boxes of leftover matzoh; and that’s okay. We will eat it at Shalosh Seudos, make matzoh brei and there’s always Pesach Sheni. What do you do with the leftover maror?

Whether you use it in salads, make your own horseradish or it just sits in the fridge too long until it goes bad, maror loses it’s taam/taste. It is called Chag Hamatzot, the Holiday of Matzoh and all year long we eat matzoh albeit not for the mitzvah, but we eat it and we remember the Exodus every day and night when we recite the Shema. But we also must remember the maror.

Eating maror in our day is a rabbinical mitzvah whereby we don’t lean or feel free. We feel discomfort and bitterness; hence the name maror — bitter. One should not make the exodus from the holiday of Pesach without chewing on and digesting the lesson of the maror. The lesson is: part and parcel of life is maror.

The way G-d set up this world is that there are Matzoh Moments and there are Maror Moments. Both are important; and they complement one another. In our generation too often parents try to shield and prevent their children from the Maror Moments of life. This prevents children from learning the necessary skills of determination and resilience which are so vital for a well lived life. Sure, we all want freedom, sweetness and success i.e., Matzoh Moments; but life is a lot more than Matzoh Moments.

Who doesn’t experience maror in their lives? Is there a family that escapes sadness, frustration, death, ill health, heartbreak; these are the bitter herbs of life. Our task is to embrace them, digest them, learn from them and grow from them. Truth is that when Maror Moments are transcended, they are an opportunity to grow, which is what life is truly all about.

So while we clean up after Pesach and box up the extra matzoh, take a good look at that maror and internalize the reality and the lessons of the maror. Although we dread them, Maror Moments are unavoidable. While we may not lean to the left in freedom when eating it, we nevertheless do eat it, and without it our seders are incomplete. Maror is simply a part of life.

About the Author
Ephraim Epstein is the senior rabbi at Congregation Sons of Israel in Cherry Hill New Jersey. Although he keeps busy with all his communal responsibilities including being a Police Chaplain, sitting on the regional Human Relations Council, NJ Holocaust Education Committee as well as maintaining community Kashruth, Eruv,Mikvah and Chevrah Kadisha- truth is his heart and soul is always directed towards Jerusalem.
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