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The Bitter Herbs

The Bitter Herbs


Bitter herbs (maror) remind us of the bitterness of the slavery of our forefathers in Egypt. Fresh grated horseradish, romaine lettuce, and endive are the most common choices.

Preparation: This must be done before the holiday begins. Peel the raw horseradish roots, and rinse them off well.

Note: Dry the roots very carefully, since they will be eaten with the matzah later on for the korech sandwich; to avoid gebrokts, not even a drop of water should be left on the horseradish.

Next, grate the horseradish with a hand grater or electric grinder. (Whoever will be grating the horseradish will begin to shed copious tears or cough a lot. Covering the face with a cloth from the eyes downwards helps prevent inhalation of the strong, bitter odor.)

The lettuce or endive leaves must be washed, carefully checked for insects, and thoroughly dried. You can instead use just the stalks, which are easier to clean and check.

Place the horseradish on the Seder plate, on top of a few cleaned, dried leaves of romaine lettuce.

Role in the Seder: After the recital of most of the haggadah comes the ritual handwashing. Then matzah is eaten, followed by some maror, followed in turn by a sandwich of matzah and maror.

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Discussion (8)
March 11, 2016
Re: Herbs
The marror doesn't have to actually be an 'herb.' It can be any bitter vegetable, but these are the most commonly used varieties.
Eliezer Zalmanov
March 11, 2016
I'm confused...Horseradish isn't an "herb"
The leaves of the horseradish are herbs, but the Horseradish root isn't an herb - so why is it used? According to Wikipedia "Herbs refer to the leafy green parts of a plant".
November 23, 2015
Why a hard boiled egg?
Thomas Cogdill
April 12, 2014
endives = chicory
April 4, 2014
The taste of horseradish root is not at all bitter ... in fact it's significant sugar content makes it somewhat sweet. Horseradish root is very hot and pungent, which, evidently, many people erroneously consider bitter. In fact, many people erroneously call any taste they don't like bitter.

If you actually want a truly bitter horseradish then you need to use the plant's leaf, not it's root.
"Herbal Ed" Smith
Williams, Oregon
April 3, 2014
Reply to Anonymous - What is Endive.
You can do a search on the internet for information on endive, you will find a lot of information.
Peace to you!
Stella H Howell
March 30, 2014
I live in the UK. What is endive please?
April 1, 2010
A thorough & easy way to wash lettuce, vegetables, fruit etc. is to first soak them in salt water for a few minutes and then rinse them in plain water.
Stella H Howell
Wokingham, UK
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