The karpas, the green vegetable, is the first part of the Lit. Order. The festive meal conducted on Passover night, in a specific order with specific rituals to symbolize aspects of the Exodus from Egypt. It is conducted following the haggadah, a book for this purpose. The mystics of Sefat also created a seder for Tu B'shvat, the new year of the trees. that makes this night different from all other nights. So far, the first glass of wine and the hand washing, though significant, do not serve to mark any sort of difference; they are regular parts of meals. The karpas, however, is not. As a night marked by difference, that difference starts now. Tonight, we celebrate difference with the karpas. Here, difference brings us hope, joy, and renewed life.
We also know that with difference can come pain and tears. We have shed these tears ourselves and we have caused others to shed tears. Some say we dip the karpas in salt water to remind ourselves of Jacob's eldest son by his beloved wife, Rachel. Joseph, the dreamer, was his father's favorite and nearly murdered by his brothers. Sold into slavery, he became viceroy of Egypt where he ultimately saves the Egyptians and also his own family from starvation. His Hebrew name is Yosef/, whose brothers sold him into slavery and then dipped his fabulous, technicolor dream coat into blood to bring back to their father, Lit. heel Jacob is the third patriarch, son of Isaac and Rebecca, and father to the twelve tribes of Israel. More than any of the other patriarchs, Jacob wrestles with God and evolves from a deceitful, deal-making young man to a mature, faithful partner to God. His Hebrew name is Yaakov.. Difference can also be dangerous.
Tonight, we dip the karpas into salt water, and as we taste it, we taste both the fresh, celebratory hope of difference and the painful blood and tears that have come with it.
Together we say:
Brukha at A name for God, as in "halleluyah" – praise God. Some people prefer this name for God as a non-gendered option. eloheynu Lit. Spirit. Some new versions of blessings call God "Spirit of the World" (Ruakh Ha’olam), rather than "King of the World" (Melekh Ha'olam). ha’olam boreit p’ri ha’adamah.
You are Blessed, Our God, Spirit of the World, who creates the fruit of the earth.