Tonight we dip twice
“On all other nights, we do not dip even once. On this night, we dip twice”…writes Rabbi Michoel Gourarie.
This question is part of the Mah Nishtana, asked by the children on Seder night. The two times we dip is a reference to the vegetable in salt water and the Maror (bitter herbs) in Charoset.
The Haggadah commentators offer a deeper angle on the custom of dipping twice on Seder night. They explain that the Egyptian exile began with a “dipping” and ended with another one.
The story that activated the Egyptian exile was the conflict between the sons of Jacob and the selling Joseph by his brothers into Egyptian slavery. To cover up the story the brothers ‘dipped’ his special tunic into goat’s blood to create an impression that he had been killed by a wild animal.
At the end of the exile, in preparation for the exodus, G-d commanded the Jewish people to offer up the Pascal lamb. They were then instructed to take a bundle of “Hyssop” plants and ‘dip’ it into blood to sprinkle it on the doorposts.
The First ‘dipping’ is a symbol of disunity and conflict. Hatred caused the exile and (as the Talmud explains) was the cause of the destruction of the second temple as well resulting in years of persecution up until our time.
The antidote to this negativity is unity and love. Bundling stalks of the hyssop plant together in preparation for the redemption, was a symbol of togetherness and closeness among the people. With this important lesson the Jewish nation were ready to leave their Egyptian bondage.
On the Seder night we relive the story and attempt to experience personal exodus from our own individual Egypt. We ‘dip’ twice (once at the beginning and once towards the end), reminding ourselves of this critically important lesson:
Conflict, selfishness and disunity thwarts growth, personal liberation and inner freedom.
Connecting to others with love and unity propels us beyond ourselves to experience true personal exodus.