Eating Korech – The Passover Sandwich

While many will say that the first sandwich was invented by the Earl of Sandwich as a handy way to have a meal, history proves otherwise.

“This was the custom of Hillel during the time of the Temple (the Second Temple in Jerusalem), to take the Passover lamb, Matzah and Maror and eat them together, fulfilling the statement: ‘On matzah and maror, they will eat it (the Passover lamb).’”

What are these three strange things?

Pesach (the Passover lamb) represents our moment of freedom, our break from Egyptian culture and control.

Matzah is the bread of our affliction and, at the same time, our liberation.

Maror – the bitter herbs – represents our suffering as slaves in Egypt.

Before Hillel, all these elements were eaten in turn, each representing another aspect of our holiday, each part of the Passover message. This is the same Hillel who says: “Do not separate yourself from the community; and do not

believe in yourself until the day of your death; and don’t judge your friend until you come to his place; and don’t say anything that cannot be easily understood; and don’t say: ‘When I will find time off work I will study’ – because then you might never study (Pirkei Avot, 2:4).”

Hillel, our Sage, brings us a collection of wisdoms. However, each one stands by itself and there is no expressed connection between them. So why say them in this manner? Because Hillel is trying to teach us something far greater than the lessons embodied in the individual sayings themselves. It is the same lesson he is presenting to us tonight, as we remake the world’s first sandwich:

Do not separate the bitterness of our Egyptian slavery from the bread of our liberation, and don’t forget to stuff in there our parents’ actions to break with Egyptian culture and slavery. All things are connected. We are part of a greater whole! To separate these things is to diminish each and remove ourselves from reality. Connect to the community, yourself, your friend and your environment all at the same time; we are one and the same.

So mix it up (in a sandwich)! It represents something greater than its constituent parts. And, hey…so do we!

Jewish tradition includes many values. Which ones would you put in your own “sandwich?” 10983163_10153176469171411_2623333019286230479_n

Meir Paltiel