This is how Hillel would eat the Pesach. He would wrap it and the marror in the matza and eat it all together.
That’s nice, but why do we need to mention alternative opinions tonight? We don’t invoke the many differences of opinion on all the issues, Rabbi Elazar ben Azariah notwithstanding.
Tell me who we pasken like and then we’ll eat the marror accordingly.
What’s interesting is that this isn’t even presented as an actual “machlokes” Tannaim: Hillel vs Shammai etc. It’s just that “This is how Hillel did it.”
Why all of a sudden do we feel the need to fulfill each side of the dispute?
Especially on a rabbinic Mitzvah, Sofeik D’Rabbonon L’Kula, over which we are lenient in cases of doubt. And everyone agrees that eating marror at the seder in the absence of the Korban Pesach is only a rabbinically formulated commemoration.
I think there are halachic approaches to this question. But I’d like to take it in another direction today.
I mentioned yesterday that Marror is meant to commemorate, relive, the bitterness of the slavery, as an anchor that serves as opening to appreciate the contrast of Geula, the redemption. We learn by comparing and contrasting.
Here’s where Hillel and his famed benevolence come into play. The Torah tells us to eat the Passover lamb “AL Matzos U’merorim”. The word על
“AL” in this context could have a number of meanings. Sometimes it means “On top of”, and sometimes it means “next to”.
It seems simple enough, then, to say that Hillel and the others were just interpreting that word differently. How would one interpretation be favored over the other? They are both legitimate and common.
One answer might have to do with how we view any mitzvah of eating a specific food. Yes, the word literally means upon. And we who are familiar with the Shwarma would look at Hillel’s meal as the perfect shwarma; lamb meat and lettuce wrapped in a thin soft matzah.
On the other hand, shouldn’t the food and its taste be appreciated on its own? If I am commanded to eat two foods, would eating them together cancel out the independent effect that each food should have? After all, there is a principle in Halacha called “Ein Osin Mitzvos Chavilos Chavilos”, One shouldn’t blur his mitzvos into bunches. One application of this found in Shulchan Aruch, for example, is that on a day in which two Torahs are read from, like any Yom-Tov, one should not begin unwrapping the Second Torah Scroll until the first one is all rolled and wrapped.
Marror is the rabbinic mitzvah of Zeicher L’Mikdash according to the Rabbis.
And Korech IS the mitzvah of Marror, that rabbinic mitzvah of Zeicher L’Mikdash, according to Hillel’s Pesach Seder in Yerushalayim.
So while it can go either way, let’s remember that Marror is about actualizing the bitterness. Bad memories are painful. They are the constant re-experiencing of the bad event. All fine in context, but Hillel’s point is that the bitterness should only be relived in immediate, encompassing context, not something that happened ten minutes ago.
I consider this a major life lesson, the healthy approach to dealing with unpleasant memories: Don’t invoke them or draw them out unless you know how to invoke the positive memories along with them, simultaneously.