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Passover- The Laws of Maror, Korech and Shulchan Orech at the Seder

The Mitzva of Marror is performed on Pesach night by taking a Ke'zayit of Marror, dipping the tip in Charoset, and then eating the Ke'zayit of Marror.  Although the Shulchan Aruch (475:1) appears to require submerging the Marror entirely in Charoset, common practice does not follow this view, and we instead dip only the tip of the Marror in the Charoset.  Thereafter we shake some Charoset off the tip of the Marror, in order to ensure that the sharpness of the Marror is retained.  [Chazon Ovadia, page 89.]


Before eating the Marror, one recites the Beracha of "Asher Kideshanu Be'mitzvotav Ve'tzivanu Al Achilat Marror."  One need not recite the Beracha of Ha'adama, which had already been recited earlier, before eating the Karpas.  In accordance with the rule of "Be'rov Am Hadrat Melech," which means that public performance of Mitzvot brings greater honor and glory to God, it is proper for one person at the Seder to recite the Beracha over Marror on behalf of everybody else.  He must have in mind for his Beracha to fulfill their obligation, and they must similarly have in mind to fulfill their obligation by listening to his recitation.  If there is concern that the one leading the Seder will not articulate all the words of the Beracha properly or audibly, or that he will not have in mind for the others to fulfill their obligation through his Beracha, then it is preferable for each individual to recite his own Beracha.  [Chazon Ovadia, page 89.]

One must have in mind before eating the Marror that he fulfills the Rabbinic obligation to eat Marror on Pesach night.  (The Torah obligation of Marror applies only when one eats the Korban Pesach; nowadays, therefore, the requirement to eat Marror applies only on the level of Rabbinic enactment.)  Nevertheless, if one ate Marror without having this intention, he is not required to eat Marror again.


One does not lean while eating the Marror, as it serves as a commemoration of the bitter slavery, and not of the redemption.


Our practice is to use romaine lettuce for the Mitzva of Marror.  One must thoroughly check the lettuce before the Seder for insects, which are often found in romaine lettuce, particularly in the leaves.  Ideally, one should purchase lettuce that was produced through hydroponics or some other mechanism that ensures the absence of insects.  The Ben Ish Chai (Rabbi Yosef Chayim of Baghdad, 1833-1909) tells of a woman who did not check the Marror carefully before the Seder, and the Rabbi warned her that she might be liable to the same number of lashes as hairs on her head.  One who eats an insect transgresses five Biblical prohibitions, each of which renders one liable to lashes.  And this woman, by neglecting to properly check the Marror, potentially caused each of her guests to eat a number of insects, for which she will be liable to many sets of lashes.  It therefore cannot be emphasized strongly enough the importance of thoroughly checking the romaine lettuce for insects before Pesach.  [Chazon Ovadia, page 95.]

One may use for Marror either the leaves or the stalk of the romaine lettuce.  Since stalks are usually not contaminated with insects to the same extent as the leaves, some people prefer using the stalks (though the stalks must also be checked).  If one chooses to eat the leaves, he must ensure that they are moist at the time when he eats them.  It is advisable to wrap the leaves in a damp towel or cloth to keep them moist for the Seder.  If one prefers to soak the leaves in water, he must ensure not to leave them in water for twenty-four consecutive hours.  Vegetables soaked in water for this period have the Halachic status of Kavush ("pickled"), and one does not fulfill the obligation of Marror with pickled vegetables.  One should therefore either soak the lettuce for less than twenty-four hours, or wrap them in a moist cloth, as mentioned.  [Chazon Ovadia, page 95.]

One must endeavor to eat the Marror before Chatzot (midnight as defined by Halacha); if one does not eat Marror until after midnight, then he does not recite the Beracha of "Al Achilat Marror."  [Chazon Ovadia, page 100.]

After eating the Marror, one proceeds to "Korech," which requires eating a Ke'zayit of Matza together with a Ke'zayit of Marror.  One should use for Korech the bottom of the three Matzot that he had before him until this point in the Seder.  Of course, this single Matza will not suffice for distributing a Ke'zayit of Matza to every participant in the Seder, and therefore one should take as well Matza from the box on the table.  One dips the Matza-Marror combination in Charoset, recites the "Zecher Le'mikdash Ke'Hillel" as printed in the Haggada, and then eats the Matza and Marror as he leans on his left side.  If one forgot to lean while he ate the Korech, he should preferably repeat Korech, unless he finds this difficult, in which case he may, according to Chacham Ovadia Yosef, be lenient.  Similarly, if one forgot to dip the Korech in Charoset before eating it, he should preferably repeat Korech, unless he finds this difficult, in which case he may be lenient.  Even then, however, one should eat at least a small quantity of Matza and Marror with Charoset (Chazon Ovadia – Laws of Pesach, p. 101).  Before eating the Korech one need not shake some Charoset off, as one must before eating Marror.


It is improper to add any other foods to the Korech; the Korech should consist of only Matza and Marror dipped in Charoset.


Upon completing the Korech, one proceeds to the festive "Shulchan Orech" meal.  One should not engage in any speech unrelated to the Mitzvot of the Seder from the time he washes his hands for Matza until he completes Korech.  Some people make a point not to speak at all until after eating the Afikoman at the end of the meal, other than in words of Torah and songs of praise to God.  [Chazon Ovadia, page 109.]