4 Sons & Sons

A discussion of Pesah/Passover generally and the Hagadah specifically. Please comment and contribute!

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Various tidbits about Karpas

Various tidbits about Karpas

Salt water is connected to the idea of having guests. According to the Midrash, Lot's wife alerted the people of Sodom to the fact that they had guests (the folks in Sodom didn't take kindly to visitors) and was thereby punished by being turned into salt. (Don't remember my source, my notes just say Ha-Kohen) Sandy Eisenberg Sasso takes the opposite approach saying that Lot's wife Idit turned to look back at Sodom out of compassion for its inhabitants. Therefore, the salt water is a symbol of compassion, even for our foes.

Some Mizrachi (particularly Syrian, Indian and Iraqi) communities use lemon juice for karpas.

The Tosefta mentions sweetbreads or intestines! dipped in salt water towards the beginning of the Seder with the karpas coming with matsah and maror. (Hauptman, Judith. "How old is the Haggadah" Judaism. Winter 2002.)


The word karpas is found in Megilat Ester meaning a fine, richly colored fabric. There is a connection with karpas and Yosef’s multicolored coat. The brothers dipped the coat in blood to convince Yaakov that Yosef had died and this set into motion the events that brought about the slavery in Egypt.

Edit: Mar Gavriel had the following to say in the comments area:

According to Prof. Guggenheimer (in his book The Scholar's Haggadah), the words karpas (fine white linen) and karafs (celery) are both Farsi. Whoever provided the vowel-points for the mediaeval song "Qaddêsh u-Rechatz" only knew the consonants KRPS from the Meghilla, so he vocalized them as he had found them there.Even in Latin (and Greek, IIRC?), the word carbâsus means the sail of a ship, (which was made out of linen?).

Check out Mar Gavriel's blog. It's much cooler than mine. He had some interesting thoughts recently on women leyning but I'm too lazy to find the exact post. Around Rosh ha-Shanah maybe?

6 Comments:

At 6:11 PM, Blogger skully said...

please don't serve me any sweetbreads at pesach.

 
At 10:18 AM, Blogger Mar Gavriel said...

According to Prof. Guggenheimer (in his book The Scholar's Haggadah), the words karpas (fine white linen) and karafs (celery) are both Farsi. Whoever provided the vowel-points for the mediaeval song "Qaddêsh u-Rechatz" only knew the consonants KRPS from the Meghilla, so he vocalized them as he had found them there.

Even in Latin (and Greek, IIRC?), the word carbâsus means the sail of a ship, (which was made out of linen?).

 
At 10:20 AM, Blogger Mar Gavriel said...

I try not to call the Sêder-vegetable "karafs" unless it is actually celery. The poseqim use the term "yerokôs" (yerakot), though some give examples, such as "karafsa" (celery) and "kusbarta" (cilantro). We do not pasqen by the song "Qaddêsh u-Rechatz", which is merely a mnemonyic.

 
At 10:47 AM, Blogger Tam said...

This is why I need folks smarter than myself to add comments! Thank you! Prof. Guggenheimer's book is invaluable.

I suppose I should differenciate between homilitics and scholarship in my posts.

 
At 11:22 AM, Blogger Tam said...

I think I'll still call it the seder vegetable "Karpas" since the term has been in vogue for 900 years or so. Your point is well taken though.

 
At 4:47 PM, Blogger Mar Gavriel said...

By the way,

Thanks for your praise of my blog. I'm not sure I deserve it.

 

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