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Updated: 2021.06.30

מָרוֹר

In The Pësakh Seidër

2nd Dipping: Bottom barley matz•âh sëh-shipud in Dipskhūg (דוּכֵּה)

The Kâ•rikh Of Hi•leil (Sr., "The Babylonian")

Maror-5 maror Sow Thistle Sonchus oleraceus
Click to enlargeמָרוֹר‎ #5: מָרוֹר — Sow Thistle dandelion, Sonchus oleraceus (photo: Graham Calow, 2008)

When dining on traditional Middle-Eastern dishes, authentic-oriented diners today preserve the ancient Middle-Eastern etiquette dating back to the discovery of bread—c. BCE 13,000! Long before the fork, or even chopsticks, diners used flatbread in their fingers to take a morsel (i.e. of meat) and dip it into the definitive ancient Israeli condiment—skhūg—from a central family dish or bowl.

Whereas in evening meals today, many only occasionally dip meat in a condiment, it seems that the de rigueur ancient practice among the poor middle class was to embellish an otherwise rather plain evening meal with one, and only one, simple condiment dip.

Except for the Pësakh Seidër, which featured a second, special and traditional, condiment dip, with its own second dipping—using מָרוֹר to dip out a portion of "דוּכֵּה-Dip" condiment.


Instead of recent assimilations of messy balancing דוּכֵּה & מָרוֹר on a crumbling bottom-מַצָּה cracker

Modern Ash•kᵊnazim "tradition": horseradiish "מָרוֹר" dipped into kha•rōsët (or not dipped at all) followed by כָּרִיךְ of Romaine lettuce מָרוֹר dipped into kha•rōsët between 2 pieces of matz•âh, Even according to the Tei•mân•i Ha•gâd•âh, they dip Romaine-lettuce mâ•rōr into dū•keih (not kha•rōsët!) noting that they imitate Hi•leil Sr. "the Babylonian"'s sandwich.‎ spread mixture on matz•âh as שִׁפּוּד shawarma [lg white Hagadah, p. 23 bottom]qqq This is what Hi•leil Sr. "the Babylonian" (c. BCE 1st century Bâ•vël - 10 CE Yᵊru•shâ•layim) did in times of the Beit ha-Mi•qᵊdâsh: He enwrapped the grilled, broiled or roasted Pësakh yearling tzōn? goat-kid or lamb and mâ•rōr in (soft) matz•âh to eat them as a sandwich—a yearling tzōn? goat-kid or lamb שִׁפּוּד shawarma— in fulfillment of the verse, "with matz•ōt and mâ•rōr they shall eat [the grilled, broiled or roasted ` Pësakh tzōn yearling goat-kid or lamb]." ( bᵊ-Mi•dᵊbar 9:11)

(Enwrap In Bottom, Barley, Babylonian מַצָּה-Pita Shi•pūd)

masc . n. מרור,חזרת,maror,khazeret pl. מְרֹרִים; wild or garden spring salad greens; wild herbs of the countryside, that one could pick nearly everywhere in Biblical Yi•sᵊr•â•eil in the spring; especially dandelion leaves (מָרוֹר הַגִּנָּה; Sonchus oleraceus).

מָרוֹר In Biblical-Era Yi•sᵊr•â•eil

Mi•shᵊn•âh Ta•lᵊmūd lists 5 varieties of מָרוֹר, while the accompanying Aramaic & Hebrew Gᵊmâr•â elucidates more contemporary interpretations of each variety.

The earliest extant ms.—the "Leiden (Netherlands) ms."—reflects European—Ash•kᵊnazim—Ultra-Orthodox Rabbinic interpretations—which incorporate their assimilations & reforms up until 1289 CE! 13th CE European Ash•kᵊnazim—Ultra-Orthodox Rabbinic "Judaism" is not equivalent to the Tōr•âh Principles conveyed by Mōsh•ëh Bën-Amᵊrâm, not in Europe but at Har Sin•ai, more than 23 centuries earlier in c. BCE !

Ultra-Orthodox rabbis of Christian-era, Dark Ages Europe syncretized (assimilated into Ta•lᵊmud) local European traditions, producing new, reformed redefinitions of מָרוֹר, including mistranslating חֲזֶרֶת as European horseradish, which—like the ët•rōg—didn't even exist in the flora of Biblical Yi•sᵊr•â•eil!

Eastern Aramaic Gᵊmâr•â to Ta•lᵊmūd Bâ•vᵊl•i, Ma•sëkët Pᵊsâkh•im 39a listed 5 varieties of מָרוֹר; the 5th being מָרוֹר itself. Since most rabbis hold that these are listed in order of diminishing efficacy, it's oxymoronic that they hold מָרוֹר to be the least satisfactory variety of מָרוֹר!

The following list from the Mi•shᵊn•âh Ta•lᵊmūd cannot be documented before the earliest extant ms. of ,

  1. Khazeret — Biblical-era accessible in the Levant Lactuca sativa longifolia (lettuce)
    Click to enlargeחֲזֶרֶת 
    חֲזֶרֶת — Romaine lettuce (Lactuca sativa longifolia)

    Lettuce ≠ Mercy!

    It wasn't until the 5th century CE Ta•lᵊmūd Bâ•vᵊl•i, that חֲזֶרֶת morphed to "horseradish", enabling Aramaic חַסָּא and Hebrew חַסָּה to morph from their original theme of caring-refuge to "lettuce". This was closely emulated by the Christian Syriac ܚܣܐ .—which focused on the connotation of "mercy", acquiring the meaning of "the Mercy Seat" (properly Ka•pōrët—which had also become corrupted into LXX ἱλαστηρίον and/or the Vulgate propitiatorio — "Mercy Seat").

  2. Maror 2: Tamekha — Wild Carrot Daucus gingidium
    Click to enlargeתַמְכָא 
    תַמְכָא — Wild carrot (Daucus gingidium)

    Note: Daucus gingidium is a cousin of Queen Anne's Lace (which is another variety of wild carrot), as well as poisonous cousins: poison hemlock, fool’s parsley and water hemlocks.

    Ta•lᵊmūd Yᵊrū•sha•lᵊm•i Ma•sëkët Pᵊsâkh•im 2.5 (18a) identifies תַמְכָא with the Hebrew transliteration גִּנְגִּידִין, correlating to the Greek γῐγγῐ́δῐον, which, according to a painting of a plant by Dioscorides, closely resembles (Daucus gingidium) the wild carrot or parsnip of the ancient Levant. These carrot or parsnip root tubers could be the basis for Medieval European Ultra-Orthodox rabbis adopting horseradish—though why they adopted horseradish as חֲזֶרֶת rather than תַמְכָא detracts from such reasoning.

    The uncertainty of identification, compounded by the danger of some of the poisonous varieties of תַמְכָא, combine with the Tōr•âh Principle of pi•quakh nëphësh to leave such decisions to botanical experts—which I'm not. (Nor am I aware of the reliability of the illustrative photo identification, or the photographer's botanical qualifications.) My advice: skip תַמְכָא and include, instead, from one or a combination of the other 4 alternatives.


    1. Maror-3 Kharkhavina (Apiaceae Eryngium creticum) 1st leaves not dissected
      Click to enlargeחַרְחֲבִינָא מַכְחִילָה — (Apiaceae Eryngium creticum) Tender 1st leaves not dissected 
      Maror-3 Kharkhavina (Apiaceae Eryngium creticum) bluish plant flower shoot
      Click to enlargeחַרְחֲבִינָא מַכְחִילָה — (Apiaceae Eryngium creticum, bluing plant sends up flower stalk 
      Maror-3 Kharkhavina (Apiaceae Eryngium creticum) blue flowers
      Click to enlargeחַרְחֲבִינָא מַכְחִילָה — mature 
      חַרְחֲבִינָא — Jastrow explains  חַרְחֲבִינָא as a portmanteau of  חֲרַח and  בִּינָא, identified as Apiaceae Eryngium creticum Lam.,  חַרְחֲבִינָא מַכְחִילָה

      Fellow Eryngium species, foetidum, doesn't grow in either Sin•ai nor Yi•sᵊr•â•eil. Therefore, although being closely associated culinarily with cousin species Coriandrum sativum (below), E. foetidum cannot have been a kind of ancient mâ•rōr.


    2. Maror-3 Kharkhavina Cilantro (Apiaceae Coriandrum sativum) pot
      Click to enlargeCilantro (Apia­ceae Coriandrum sativum)

      A cousin species is Apia­ceae Coriandrum sativum — Cilantro, (MH: כֻּסְבָּרָה) which is the major ingredient in an ancient Israeli (Tei•mân•im) dipskhūg!


  3. Maror 4: Ulshin — Cichorium endivia (endive)
    Click to enlargeעוּלְשִׁין
    עוּלְשִׁין endives (Cichorium endivia)

  4. Maror-5 Sow Thistle Sonchus oleraceus (Maror)
    Click to enlargeמָרוֹר
    מָרוֹר — Sow Thistle Dandelion (Sonchus oleraceus).


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