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Every seder I've ever been to has used ground horseradish for maror, and "dipping" it in the charoset ends up being implemented as putting both maror and charoset on a piece of matzah and eating that. In reviewing the haggadah today, though, it struck me that this takes away from the symbol of the Hillel sandwich that follows, where we combine maror and matzah quite intentionally. So I'm looking for a better way to achieve "dipping". What do most people do? Combine them on a plate (no dipping but no matzah)? Use unground horseradish root (so you have something solid that you can actually dip)? Something else?

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Not an answer, because you specified horseradish, but with romaine lettuce stalks this is not an issue at all. – Double AA Mar 17 '13 at 23:50
My family has always used un-ground horseradish – Charles Koppelman Mar 18 '13 at 1:54
As an aside, one plus to using horseradish is described by the Mishna B'rura (473:42, paraphrased)... – Fred Mar 18 '13 at 4:13
"Romaine lettuce is ideal for various reasons.... However acharonim have pointed out that romaine lettuce is very commonly infested with very small insects that are not easily seen. Therefore, unless someone has designated, G-d fearing people who will examine the lettuce properly, it is better to use horseradish ("chrain"), even though it's third on the list of acceptable types of maror. G-d forbid that a person should stumble in a biblical prohibition in order to fulfill a rabbinic obligation, especially since it's possible to fulfill this obligation with horseradish." – Fred Mar 18 '13 at 4:14
@Fred That's why many who use romaine lettuce (myself included) use the white stalk parts which are a) easier to check for bugs, and b) more massive so easier to eat a shiur with. One possible disadvantage of horseradish which no one has mentioned is that it is likely just a mistranslation of the species of maror in question and not kosher at all for the mitzva. – Double AA Mar 18 '13 at 4:25
up vote 5 down vote accepted

The Chabad custom (Sefer Haminhagim Chabad, Haggada im Likkutey Tammim Uminhagim, see also Aruch Hashulchan 473:14) is to use a combination of ground horseradish and Romaine lettuce. We put the ground horseradish inside the lettuce and dip that into the charoses. Shulchan Aruch (473:5) rules that one may combine the different types of Maror, and this custom has the additional advantage of including Romaine lettuce, which Shulchan Aruch considers to be the most preferable type of Maror.

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Assuming you use less than a k'zayis of lettuce and horseradish each (and I'm not actually assuming this), this brings up the issue of combining different kinds of maror for one k'zayis, which Rashi (P'sachim 39a, s.v. ומצטרפין) implies is not preferable. Generally, romaine lettuce is preferred to anything else, no matter how bitter the alternative is (see the story with Ravina and Rav Acha son of Rava on the middle of 39a). – Fred Mar 18 '13 at 0:18
@Fred Shulchan Aruch (473:5) rules lehalacha that one can combine the five different types of Maror to make up a kezayitz. This is the Chabad custom (as recorded in Sefer Haminhagim Chabad). See also Aruch Hashulchan (:14). – Michoel Mar 18 '13 at 0:45
Interesting minhag (but note that the Shulchan Aruch does not suggest that it is preferable to use a mixture, and in fact he rules that romaine lettuce is preferable). – Fred Mar 18 '13 at 0:51
I thought that was what it meant. Obviously, if so, then it was ambiguous. +1. – msh210 Mar 18 '13 at 2:06
@MonicaCellio It is clear from Shulchan Aruch that one may mix two types of bitter herbs. Fred was pointing out that there may be an opinion that it is preferable not to, but that opinion is not codified in Shulchan Aruch, and the Chabad custom is specifically to mix. It is unquestionably better than eating the marror with matza, and also has the advantage of eating Romaine lettuce as well which Shulchan Aruch states is actually preferable to horseradish. – Michoel Mar 18 '13 at 3:25

We use unground horseradish. If you can't handle the gases in it, let it sit out for a few hours. Or wrap it in foil right after cutting for the full effect.

We also use romain lettuce bases (not the leaf, the base of the plant) for those who don't want the horseradish (or as a supplement for those who can't eat a ke-zait of it).

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Thanks! I hadn't known that letting it sit out for a few hours would tone down the unground root. (I don't mind it, but some of my guests probably would...) – Monica Cellio Mar 18 '13 at 3:54
It's still powerful mind you, but less. The thinner you cut it, the less powerful. We usually do about 1 inch, then cut it smaller at the seder. You can cut it even thinner if you like - then it's still a large piece, so you can dip it, but because it's thin most of the gases dissipate. – Ariel Mar 18 '13 at 4:55

Here's what we do: Prior to the Seder, we put some charoset and a thin slice of horseradish root (shaved from the root with a vegetable peeler) on a plastic spoon for each guest. When it is time to eat it, we give everyone a spoon. This is attractive, neat, and does not take up much time.

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How is this dipping? – Double AA Mar 24 '13 at 19:53
@DoubleAA While the question does specify that it is looking for a better dipping method, it is also true that Monica asks: "What do most people do? Combine them on a plate (no dipping but no matzah)? " This answer would seem to address that. – HodofHod Mar 24 '13 at 21:33

Last year at my Rov's house, I have seen a whole bunch of freshly squeezed lemon go into the ground root to make it a little sticky and better tasting.

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This is unlikely. It's very clear that the horseradish must be plain, and not mixed with anything. If it was cooked, or soaked in lemon or vinegar for more than 24 hours it's certainly not valid. And even if it's less than 24 hours it's clearly not desirable. – Ariel Mar 18 '13 at 1:30

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