Is there a lesson that we can take from the מרור, that applies to our lives during the year?
And the answer is that there are a few aspects of מרור that are applicable to us as lessons for our lives. And I’ll tell you one of the most important lessons right now.
When the בני ישראל first arrived in מצרים, they were treated very well by פרעה and the מצריים. We were given ממיטב – from the best of the land of Egypt – to settle. יוסף, our brother, was the leader of all of Egypt and we had all the privileges and respect. It was excellent, it seemed. No! It was a terrible סכנה. A very great danger of falling in love with the Egyptian ways and culture.
So what did Hakodosh Boruch Hu do? He gave us the antidote of וימררו את חייהם. The מצריים began to embitter our lives. They began to persecute us with such venom that it was impossible to have the slightest interest in an Egyptian. An Egyptian became like a snake. When a Jew saw an Egyptian from a distance he tried to go on a different street, to detour, in order to stay out of his way. וימררו. The Egyptians were terrible in their wickedness so the Jews avoided them. And that’s what Hashem wanted.
And therefore, the מרור commemorates that great miracle that Hashem did, that great השגחה of Hashem, that he causes us to be separated from the environment around us. In Eastern Europe we were blessed that we were living among people of very low character. The peasants in Eastern Europe were not like the Germans or the Englishmen who were cultured and refined people with good manners. Every Lithuanian, every Pole carried a knife in his boots – and he used it. They were vicious and angry people. They got drunk frequently. I was there. I saw them. The Poles, the Lithuanians, the Ukrainians – all wicked people, all thieves, all stealers, all immoral. Now, don’t think I’m prejudiced. I saw it with my own eyes. On market day they would come to sell their produce. And when they finished, they would all buy liquor and get drunk. They would stagger around drinking, till they would fall on top of each other, collapsed in a heap, men and women. They would lie in a heap, vomiting on each other. Very low people. And it was the same in many other countries as well – very low people. And that’s why the Jews thrived in these countries. That’s why they thrived as Jews. But when the Jews came to the cultured countries, they got lost. In Germany, Jews got lost. German were polite people with very good manners. Jews in England got lost. Jews in America got ruined. How good it was for the Jews to live among backward people!
But מצרים was a cultured nation. They were an advanced nation and a polite people. And therefore, it was very dangerous for us to live in מצרים. So Hashem said, וימררו את חייהם. I’ll make it מרור. And now, the Egyptians became as bitter as מרור. It was Hashem’s doing. In the תהילים it says, הפך לבם לשנוא עמו. You hear that? We’re blaming the Egyptians, but in תהילים it says that it was Hashem who caused the Egyptians to hate us. So now the Egyptians became so bitter, so wicked, that now we were protected against mingling. So the מרור was a great gift מן השמים. So when you pass a gentile on the street and he calls out at you, “Dirty Jew!” say ברוך ה׳. Thank you Hashem for reminding me who he is. Otherwise I might think he’s a human being – after all, he looks human.
A boy I know went into a laundromat to wash his garments. While he was standing there, a gentile girl started up with him. She liked his looks, so she did what gentile girls do. But this boy had the sense to know that he was talking to a tiger. She was a lynx, a wolf, that looked like a girl. You have to watch out for those gentile girls. They might look like girls but they’re tigers. I remember a case, a man I knew married a gentile girl. He said she was sweet. He said that she’s not like the other gentile girls. And subsequently, the newspapers reported how she shot him dead. She killed him with a gun. You know, that Jewish women don’t kill their husbands with guns.
So Hashem said, וימררו – embitter their lives. And then, the Egyptians showed what they were capable of. And the same thing with the Nazis. The Jews in Germany fell in love with the Germans. The Germans were very polite. And cultured. So the Jews began intermarrying with the Germans. So what did Hashem do? He let the Germans show who they really are. And the Nazis did a very good job of showing what a German really is. And now we know who the Germans are. Now we know that the Germans are the very worst. Hyenas! There’s not another nation in the world of savages as wicked as the Germans. Under their good manners, we know that they are the most terrible criminals. If we would have the power, and we were allowed to by Hakodosh Boruch Hu, we should organize an army even today, and march on Germany and take revenge for six million victims. We don’t have the power to do it. The ogres, the cannibals, the very worst people in the whole history of the world are the Germans. I really have to ask מחילה from the cannibals for comparing them to the Germans. At least the cannibals only kill people when they get hungry.
And why did Hashem do that? Because the Jews were in love with them. And it was hard not to fall for them. I myself, passed through Germany in the way to Slabodka. And I remember, on the train, a German man, a professor, took my bag and put it on the overhead rack for me. He was so polite. He was so polite and helpful. So וימררו, He sent מרור to teach us who they really are.
And that’s one reason we thank Hashem for the מרור. Ah, what a delicious thing. Take a bite of the מרור, horseradish, and you swallow it and you’re fainting. Tears are flowing from your eyes. That’s what our forefathers did in Egypt. They were fainting from the צרות. Tears flowed from their eyes. That’s how much they were suffering from the kind and cultured Egyptians. צרות on all sides. And it was a very good medicine. Now we know who the Egyptians are. And we thank Hashem, ברוך אתה ה׳ על אכילת מרור. We’re privileged to have that מרור.
That’s one aspect of מרור and you should never forget that. To be persecuted by the goyim is very good. The fact that the gentiles show us who they really are, is a great blessing for us. Don’t deceive yourself. He may smile at you, she may smile at you – but it’s the smile of a hyena. And the time will come when you’ll realize that you’ve started up with a snake.