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The Foundation Stone Haggadah: Marror 1

Maror is obviously a symbol of suffering. It is interesting that Pesach is a bittersweet experience. “It is taught: R. Shimon bar Yochai said: There were three gifts that G-d gave the Jews, but each of the three could only be acquired through suffering. These are they: Torah, the land of Israel, and Olam Habah.” Rav Kook, the first chief rabbi of Israel explains (RSW: Everyone agreed, even those who hated him, that he was the Kohen Gadol. Even his enemies agreed. His enemies were only his enemies because he was a Zionist.) in his sefer Eniya that those things that come naturally to human beings in the physical world don’t need suffering to acquire. However, those things that are beyond nature, beyond a person’s physical boundaries need suffering to attain. This is because to go beyond physical existance, the body needs to be broken own.

For example, Rav Kook quotes Rambam who says that prophecy can only be achieved through tremendous physical suffering. “And all the prophets, when they prophesized, except for Moses, their limbs would begin to shake and their physical body would weaken. You find that in The Idiot by Dostoevsky. (If you look at his seizures, they are exactly how Rambam explains prophecy. If you remember the story in The Idiot he would have a tremendous moment of clarity just before the seizure. But that’s just the opposite of prophecy. I read a book once about a whole theory how prophets were obviously epileptics!)

A man is composed of intellect, body, and soul. God wanted us to see that each part could be above nature. Therefore, Torah lifts our intellect. The Land of Israel lifts our body, and Olam Habah lifts our soul. All of this is part of the Exodus. We left Egypt to receive the Torah, to go into Eretz Yisrael, and to have a taste of Olam Habah. There’s more, and this is a little difficult. Rabbi Eliezer Ashkenazi says that the soul does not want to enter the body from Gan Eden when a child is born. It doesn’t want to. But it is forced to. But the soul realizes that the only way that it will get to Olam Habah is if it enters into exile, which is the body. Rabbi Ashkenazi says the same process is true with the Jewish People at large.

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