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כְּרֵשׁוֹת | Items for the Second Seder Plate: Leeks

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To be inserted before reciting Dayenu.

An old Persian tradition involves whipping each other with green onions/scallions during the recitation of Dayenu. What does this represent?

In Numbers chapter 11, the Israelites complain about missing the food they “used to at freely in Egypt – the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic.” Let us remember that our leeks were not free – they were paid for in the slavedrivers’ whips. And although we don’t hit each other with leeks, these green onions share their taste and their memory.

Sifrei Bamidbar 87 says:

מָשָׁל לְמֶלֶךְ בָּשָׂר וָדָם שֶׁמָּסַר בְּנוֹ לְפֵדָגוֹג, וְהָיָה יוֹשֵׁב וּמְפַקֵּדוֹ וְאוֹמֵר לוֹ: ”הֲנִרְאֶה שֶׁלֹּא יֹאכַל מַאֲכָל רַ, וְלֹא יִשְׁתֶּה מַשְׁקֶה רָע!“ וּבְכָל כָּךְ הָיָה הַבֵּן הָהוּא מִתְרָאֵם עַל אָבִיו, לוֹמַר, ”לֹא מִפְּנֵי שֶׁאוֹהֲבֵנִי אֶלָּא שֶׁאִי אֶפְשַׁר לוֹ שֶׁאֹכַל!“
This is like if a king of flesh and blood entrusts his son to a pedagogue. He would sit on the throne and command him thus: “Please see that he does not eat any bad food nor drinks any bad drink!” And with all this, the son would grow angry at his father, saying, “It’s not because he loves me, but because he makes it impossible for me to eat!”

May we avoid letting nostalgia filter our past, and remember that there’s no such thing as a free lunch. May we be satiated rather than gluttonous, and may that be enough for us.

To remind us what’s really important, we read the final verses of Song of Songs 8:11–14.

כֶּ֣רֶם הָיָ֤ה לִשְׁלֹמֹה֙ בְּבַ֣עַל הָמ֔וֹן נָתַ֥ן אֶת־הַכֶּ֖רֶם לַנֹּטְרִ֑ים אִ֛ישׁ יָבִ֥א בְּפִרְי֖וֹ אֶ֥לֶף כָּֽסֶף׃ כַּרְמִ֥י שֶׁלִּ֖י לְפָנָ֑י הָאֶ֤לֶף לְךָ֙ שְׁלֹמֹ֔ה וּמָאתַ֖יִם לְנֹטְרִ֥ים אֶת־פִּרְיֽוֹ׃ הַיּוֹשֶׁ֣בֶת בַּגַּנִּ֗ים חֲבֵרִ֛ים מַקְשִׁיבִ֥ים לְקוֹלֵ֖ךְ הַשְׁמִיעִֽנִי׃ בְּרַ֣ח ׀ דּוֹדִ֗י וּֽדְמֵה־לְךָ֤ לִצְבִי֙ א֚וֹ לְעֹ֣פֶר הָֽאַיָּלִ֔ים עַ֖ל הָרֵ֥י בְשָׂמִֽים׃
“Solomon had a vineyard in the Town of Plenty, he put guards at the vineyard; each man would bring from its fruit a thousand silver coins. My vineyard is my own; have your thousands, Solomon, your two hundred guardians of fruit! O dweller in the gardens, friends are listening for your voice – let me hear it! Hurry, my love, and be as a gazelle or a fawn of the deer, upon the mountains of spices.”

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