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What do people put in charoses and why?

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Related: judaism.stackexchange.com/q/70609 – msh210 Apr 21 at 18:22
up vote 3 down vote accepted

Charoses is supposed to remind you of the mortar used for the bricks. One of the ingredients used is apples to remind us of the apple trees the woman gave birth under in Mitzrayim (Shir HaShirim 8:5). In Pesachim 116. and Tosafos there also mentions ginger and cinnamon to represent the straw and clay used in Mitzrayim.

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R'Gershon Gold's good answer mentions some ingredients, with reasons. Another is egozim (walnuts?) because of "el ginas egoz yaradti". I seem to recall also customs to include wine and dates, though I don't remember a reason for either.

Since the question seems to be asking what answerers do ("your"), I'll give you the ingredients of my family's charoses: apples, walnuts, cinnamon, ginger, wine.

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It says people not you – SimchasTorah Apr 13 '11 at 12:33
It actually says says both. – Isaac Moses Apr 13 '11 at 20:04
I missed that I changed it intentionally – SimchasTorah Apr 13 '11 at 22:20

I'll add to Gershon's answer, that Rav Schachter, following Rav Soloveitchik's lead, maintains that there should be citrus fruit in it, because based on the gemara which says it should be acidic like the tapuach, and Tosafot, in that gemara, it is not apples but rather citrus fruit. I discuss this, and its possible ramifications, here.

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Since that post is kind of old, I'll comment here: from various mishnayos it seems that "tapuchim" must mean apples or some closely related species. For example, Kilayim 1:4 points out that "tapuchim" somewhat resemble "chuzrad" (or "uzrad"), quince or hawthorn. Terumos 11:2-3 and Nedarim 6:9 mentions "wine of tapuchim" - presumably apple cider (esrog liqueur is a modern invention). And Maasros 1:4 mentions "tapuchim" and esrogim separately. – Alex Apr 14 '11 at 16:04
interesting. i'll have to look these up, and consider them carefully. entirely off the cuff, here is a reference to ancient Greek wine made from citrons: books.google.com/… In terms of chuzrad, are we so sure of these identities, of quince or hawthorn? Or does this come from the assumption that tapuach means an apple? – josh waxman Apr 28 '11 at 0:01
The wine there isn't actually made from citrons - just the leaves are used to flavor it (see full citation, in English translation, in par. 6 here); halachically that would be no different than regular wine. As for chuzrad/uzrad: Bartenura there (and Maasros 1:3) identifies it as sorb-apple. The Yerushalmi (Kilayim ibid.) says that it is fairly closely related to אגסין (pears) - true of sorb-apples or quinces, but not of citrus. And the Mishnah (Maasros ibid.) states that uzrad goes through a stage of development where it is fuzzy - again, not true of citrus. – Alex May 11 '11 at 22:07
@Alex and @josh, in modern Hebrew the `uzrad is translated as the hawthorn, and it is the Crataegus genus of plants. They are small red fruit, and not at all tasty: see flora.huji.ac.il/… for details. It's also not clear that the apple was cultivated in Israel in the time of the Mishna. That said, if they meant etrogim, they could have said etrogim. – JXG May 17 '11 at 6:51

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