What Are the 5 Bitter Herbs?

 
05-Aug-2010 by

 

Are you wondering what are the 5 bitter herbs? Well, if you are not a Jewish or you don’t happen to have a Jewish friend, it’s natural for you to wonder what are the 5 bitter herbs that are so popularly eaten in a particular Jewish celebration. The 5 bitter herbs are collectively known as Maror. The Maror is eaten during the Jewish Passover.5-bitter-herbs-in-hillel-sandwich

The Jewish Passover

To know what are the 5 bitter herbs, a brief introduction about the Jewish Passover would be helpful. The Passover is a historical Jewish tradition, which, celebrates the freedom of the Jewish slaves from the Pharaoh Ramesses, who, existed in ancient Egypt. As per the Old Testament goes, since, Moses and his men were denied their liberty by Ramesses, the Egyptians were doomed to suffer the 10 plagues. The Israelites used the blood of sacrificed lambs to mark their doors. They believed, that, this would pass over the plague and their loved ones would be saved. Passover today, is celebrated as a 7 – 8 days festival. In the first two nights of the festival, the Seder is eaten. The Seder plate comprises of the chief elements like Matzahs, Charoseth, Karpas, Zeroah, Baytzah and Maror.

Significance of the 5 bitter herbs

The Seder platter represents Exodus’ story. The 5 bitter herbs or the Maror symbolizes forgiveness or Rachamim. The Maror is generally placed in the central portion of the plate. This signifies that the Rachamim lies in the heart of a person. The 5 bitter herbs act as the reminders of the pain and austerity of the Israelites who were enslaved. According to the popular Jewish belief, bitterness gives way to the discovery of bighearted mercy. Extreme hostility ultimately vents out to usher in abundant compassion. These beliefs make the 5 bitter herbs sit in the center of the plate.

The Maror

The 5 bitter herbs are sow thistle, horseradish, lettuce, chicory and endives. 

Ritual 

According to the Jewish Passover ritual, all the participants of Seder, need to eat these 5 bitter herbs two times during this sacred feast. In the first round, the participants need to sit upright and eat the herbs. In the other times of the feast, participants can recline when sharing the wine and the vegetable greens. Traditionally, the 5 bitter herbs are dipped in Charoseth and eaten. In the second round, the herbs and Charoseth are sandwiched and eaten. It’s called the Hillel Sandwich.

Picture Source: unbreaded.com

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