Join The Conversation With Mishpacha's Weekly Newsletter

Meet your Maror

Gila Arnold

They come to us all neatly bundled, washed, and ready to eat. But how do those perfectly wrapped bags of romaine lettuce get to our supermarket shelves? And can we be so sure that when we sit down to the Seder, our maror is really bug-free?

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

It ranks right up there with bargaining for the afikomen and watching Uncle Yitzy jiggle the kos shel Eliyahu and insisting that “some mysterious guest” must have drunk from it: pictures of Zeide’s face turning bright red from a large helping of horseradish maror feature prominently in many a youthful Pesach Seder memory. But, despite generations of gastronomic mesirus nefesh, the Gemara, as later codified by the Shulchan Aruch, does not consider horseradish to be the ideal vegetable for performing the mitzvah of Maror. Rather, from the five possible types of herbs listed in the Mishnah, the Gemara hits upon the mild-flavored romaine lettuce (known as chazeres or chasah) as the best way of fulfilling the requirement. So were our ancestors simply gluttons for punishment? Actually, for much of history, romaine lettuce was unattainable — either literally so, or because of the levels of bug infestation found among the leafy heads. It’s a recent luxury that we are able to enjoy romaine for our maror, and in our year-round salads, without the worry of ingesting a helping of sheratzim along with it. Let us follow our lettuce, as it makes its journey from tiny seedling to leafy green — sans pesky bugs — to grace your Pesach table.   

To read the rest of this story, please buy this issue of Mishpacha or sign up for a weekly subscription

Share this page with a friend. Fill in the information below, and we'll email your friend a link to this page on your behalf.

Your name
Your email address
You friend's name
Your friend's email address
Please type the characters you see in the image into the box provided.

Evolution vs. Revolution
Shoshana Friedman I call it the “what happened to my magazine?” response
Up, Up, and Away
Rabbi Moshe Grylak What a fraught subject Eretz Yisrael is, to this day
Where Do You Come From?
Yonoson Rosenblum Could they be IDF officers with no Jewish knowledge?
Heaven Help Us
Eytan Kobre Writing about anti-Semitism should rouse, not soothe
Work/Life Solutions with Chedva Kleinhandler
Moe Mernick “Failures are our compass to success”
An Un-Scientific Survey
Rabbi Emanuel Feldman Are Jerusalemites unfriendly? Not necessarily
Out of Anger
Jacob L. Freedman How Angry Lawyer was finally able to calm down
5 Things You Didn’t Know about…Yitzy Bald
Riki Goldstein He composed his first melody at eight years old
When the Floodgates of Song Open, You’re Never Too Old
Riki Goldstein Chazzan Pinchas Wolf was unknown until three years ago
Who Helped Advance These Popular Entertainers?
Riki Goldstein Unsung deeds that boosted performers into the limelight
Your Task? Ask
Faigy Peritzman A tangible legacy I want to pass on to my children
Are You There?
Sarah Chana Radcliffe Emotional withdrawal makes others feel lonely, abandoned
A Peace of a Whole
Rebbetzin Debbie Greenblatt Love shalom more than you love being right
Seminary Applications
Rabbi Zecharya Greenwald, as told to Ariella Schiller It’s just as hard for seminaries to reject you