The Foundation Stone Haggadah: Karpas 3
I’m sure you all familiar with the famous answer to why we are dipping – so that the children will be curious and ask questions. But let’s examine this carefully. What is it that the children will ask? On all other nights we don’t dip at all. On this night we dip twice. That is to say, if you dip once, what’s the big deal? You know that when Mommy isn’t looking everyone dips his or her food into different things. But if you see that everyone is dipping twice, then I see a pattern, and I have to ask.
Therefore, it isn’t really the Karpas itself we are asking about. It’s about the repeated dipping which makes us ask about the Karpas, and the dipping sets the stage for what comes later. Another interesting point is that we make the bracha of “Borei Pri haAdama” over the Karpas. When we make this bracha we have in mind that we will be eating another vegetable later on. (Of course, in Halacha a bracha can’t cover something else that will be eaten three hours later, but that’s another question.) I make a bracha now so that I won’t have to make a bracha over the Maror. That’s because if I made a “Borei Pri haAdama” with the bracha “Al Achilat Maror,” I would have to eat two portions of Maror.
From this we see that Karpas is actually the beginning of Maror. This is symbolic of a very uncomfortable thought. Whatever happened in Egypt was only the beginning of a process. It was setting the stage for what was to come. What we do tonight is a process, as well. It isn’t finished, and it won’t be until the Final Redemption, which is when Mashiach will come. Therefore, when I am eating Karpas I have to realize that I am bringing the process closer. When we say in the Haggadah, “In every generation each person should see himself as if he himself went out from Egypt,” we have to understand that we are continuing that long walk that began when we started to walk out of Egypt. If all we are going to do is to go through the ceremony, we are not bringing the Geulah closer. But if we involve ourselves in the process, we appreciate freedom more. And if we appreciate what God did for us, we are bringing the Final Redemption that much closer. Karpas represents the idea that this is only the beginning, but it’s not finished.