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קְלִפּוֹת לֶפֶת | Items for the Second Seder Plate: Turnip peels, after the Holocaust remembrance of Pearl Benisch

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To be inserted with the door open, upon pouring the Cup of Elijah

We read the text below.

Pearl Benisch… remembers Passover in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in Germany in the spring of 1945, just days before her liberation.
“We had nothing to eat but watery soup, with bread once a week,” she told me in a very quiet voice. “But I was one of the lucky ones. I was working in a place where we peeled potatoes and turnips. I cut three turnips in narrow rounds, covered them up with a piece of brown paper and hid them in my shoes.
“When we had our Seder in the peeling room with one woman keeping watch for the guards, the other women moaned that there was no matzo. I said, ‘they are here, they are under the cover.’ They opened the brown paper and there were the three round turnip matzos.”
Then, Mrs. Benisch, now in her late 80’s, paused and said in a whisper, “Only God can make matzo from turnips.”[1] Joan Nathan, ‘Bread of Freedom in Times of Despair,’ The New York Times, 16 April 2008. 

The rabbis say that Pesaḥ, the time of the redemption from Egypt, will eventually be the time of the redemption of the earth upon the arrival of the messianic age. When a society as cruel as Pharaoh arose and sought to destroy our people, when the ultimate redemption seemed as far off as ever, we remembered this. Let us remember them as well. Traditional Haggadot include the next three verses. The fourth has been added to end on a more positive, hopeful note.

שְׁפֹ֤ךְ חֲמָתְךָ֗ אֶֽל־הַגּוֹיִם֮ אֲשֶׁ֢ר לֹא־יְדָ֫ע֥וּךָ וְעַ֥ל מַמְלָכ֑וֹת אֲשֶׁ֥ר בְּ֝שִׁמְךָ֗ לֹ֣א קָרָֽאוּ׃ כִּ֭י אָכַ֣ל אֶֽת־יַעֲקֹ֑ב וְֽאֶת־נָוֵ֥הוּ הֵשַֽׁמּוּ׃ (תהלים עט:ו-ז)
Pour out Your anger on the nations who do not know You, and on the empires who do not call Your name! For they have devoured Jacob and desolated his abode! (Psalms 79:6-7)

שְׁפׇךְ־עֲלֵיהֶ֥ם זַעְמֶ֑ךָ וַחֲר֥וֹן אַ֝פְּךָ֗ יַשִּׂיגֵֽם׃ (תהלים סט:כה)
Pour upon them Your fury, and may Your hot anger overtake them! (Psalms 69:25)

תִּרְדֹּ֤ף בְּאַף֙ וְתַשְׁמִידֵ֔ם מִתַּ֖חַת שְׁמֵ֥י יְהֹוָֽה׃ (איכה ג:סו)
Pursue them in anger, and destroy them under the heavens of Adonai! (Lamentations 3:66)

כֵּ֠ן יֹאבְד֤וּ כׇל־אוֹיְבֶיךָ֙ יְהֹוָ֔ה וְאֹ֣הֲבָ֔יו כְּצֵ֥את הַשֶּׁ֖מֶשׁ בִּגְבֻרָת֑וֹ (שופטים ה:לא)
Thus may your enemies perish, Adonai, but may those who love you be as the sun rising in its glory! (Judges 5:31)




1 Joan Nathan, ‘Bread of Freedom in Times of Despair,’ The New York Times, 16 April 2008.

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