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סִילְקָא דְּרָב הוּנָא | Items for the Second Seder Plate: Beets, after the rabbinic teaching of Rav Huna (ca. 3rd c.)

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To be inserted right before the second washing, as we prepare for the meal.

We read from the Talmud (Pesachim 114b):

מַאי שְׁנֵי תַּבְשִׁילִין? אֲמַר רַב הוּנָא, ”סִילְקָא וַאֲרוּזָא.“ רָבָא הֲוָה מְהַדַּר אַסִּלְקָא וַאֲרוּזָא, הוֹאִיל וּנְפַק מִפּוּמֵיהּ דְּרַב הוּנָא.
What are two cooked foods [that fulfill the Passover obligation]? Rav Huna said, ‘beets and rice.’ Rava would always look for beets and rice, since this ruling came from the mouth of Rav Huna.

Current Ashkenazi practice no longer eats rice on Pesaḥ. But beets, here represented with red khreyn (ground horseradish and beet puree) are still a standard part of many a Seder meal.

The color of beets, which never leaves our hands, symbolizes the teachings of the sages, which are still passed down. And the redness symbolizes the blood of the covenant, still there after all these years.

So we quote, just as does the traditional text of the Haggadah, Ezekiel 16:6, whose repeated final phrase is said to represent the blood of the Pesaḥ sacrifice and the blood of the covenant with Abraham.

וָאֶעֱבֹ֤ר עָלַ֙יִךְ֙ וָֽאֶרְאֵ֔ךְ
מִתְבּוֹסֶ֖סֶת בְּדָמָ֑יִךְ
וָאֹ֤מַר לָךְ֙ בְּדָמַ֣יִךְ חֲיִ֔י
וָאֹ֥מַר לָ֖ךְ בְּדָמַ֥יִךְ חֲיִֽי׃
And I passed over you and I saw you soiled in your blood
And I said to you, “Through your blood you will live,”
and I said to you, “Through your blood you will live!”

And we will also read another Talmudic passage, not for any symbolic reason, but because you deserve to hear it.
(Berakhot 39a)

אָמַר רַב חִסְדָּא, ”תַּבְשִׁיל שֶׁל תְּרָדִין יָפֶה לַלֵּב וָטוֹב לְעֵינַיִם וְכָל שְׁכֵּן לִבְנֵי מֵעַיִם.“ אָמַר אַבַּיֵּי, ”וְהוּא דּיָתִיב אַבֵּי תְּפִי וְעָבִיד תּוּךְ תוּךְ!“
Rav Ḥisda said, “Cooked beets are great for the heart, good for the eyes, and, all the more so, good for the intestines.” Abaye said, “That’s when the dish sits bubbling on the stove and going tukh tukh.”



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