The Foundation Stone Haggadah: Marror 2
“Originally our fathers were idol worshippers…” Then, we quote Joshua in which he speaks to the Jews after they have successfully conquered Eretz Yisrael. He says, “So says Hashem, God of Israel: Your fathers dwelt beyond the Euphrates river, Terach, the father of Abraham and Nachor, and they served other gods.” This, of course, is the greatest gift that God gave us – by being idol worshippers, they were able to understand that they were spiritual beings. They realized that they needed worship. “Then I took you father Abraham from beyond the river and led him through the land of Canaan. And I multiplied his offspring and gave him Isaac. To Isaac I gave Jacob and Esau. To Esau I gave Mount Seir to inherit, but Jacob and his children went down to Egypt.”
Listen to the end of the speech: “I have given you a land for which you did not labor, and cities for which you did not build, and you now dwell in them. Now you have vineyards and orchard which you did not plant.” They captured all these from the Canaanites. “Now, therefore, fear God, serve God with purity and truth, and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the river and in Egypt, and serve God.”
What’s Joshua talking about? They haven’t been idol worshippers for years! Meanwhile, what is he picking up on? – There is still a part of them that are still idol worshippers. So listen to what he says next. “If you don’t enjoy worshipping G-d, choose this day whom you will serve.” In other words, make a choice. Make a choice that you will choose other gods. If you don’t find joy in it, then choose something else. So what is he telling them? It’s incredible! He’s saying that if you don’t enjoy this, become an idol worshipper! Seriously! Don’t be nowhere. Don’t be in Yenemsvelt. Joshua continues, “And I, and my family, we have decided to serve God.”
I don’t need to elaborate. This is all part of Maror. Or, maybe I do. Joshua is telling the Jews that the bitterness is over. The bitterness was in Egypt. If the bitterness is going to carry over into your service of God, then do what Joshua suggested: choose something else. The whole idea for you now is to serve God with joy. “I took you out so that you’d have joy in your service of Me.” This, of course, is consistent with our explanation of Magid. If the Maror that you’re eating is part of what you feel about God, then choose something else. Maror is when we decide that we enjoy what we’re doing, or that it is a schlepp, or a burden. This is an incredible statement. God says, “I want you to understand. In Egypt, it was bitter, and it was bitter so that you could get something. That something is now part of you. The only way you can lose it is if you find bitterness in what you now have.”
“I gave you Eretz Yisrael. You got it because you suffered. This suffering is over. Here are cities you didn’t build, orchards you didn’t plant, and fields you didn’t plow. Now they are yours. There is no work for you to do. But there is one thing – you want to keep them? Just be happy in your service of Me. If you choose not to, then choose not to. But don’t serve Me in a bitter, resentful way.”
The bitterness has to be over. That’s why we dip the Maror into the sweet charoset.