I've heard many times from my Rabbeim throughout the years that כרפס is the same letters as ס' פרך, representing the 60 myriads of Jews who were forced to do עבודת פרך (often translated as crushing labor - see Rashi on Shemos 1:13 or with a soft mouth - see beginning of Sotah 11b).

Is there any (preferably early) source that this is where the word כרפס comes from? I've checked many Haggadahs and haven't found that anywhere (I've found other sources for the word Karpas, such as the ones noted here, but I'm looking specifically for a source that it is named that because it is an anagram of ס' פרך.

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    For what it's worth, the Peninei Halakha site, for the book on "Pesaĥ" chapter 16 ("The Seder Night") says: "... a few Rishonim (Maharil, Raavan) write that karpas should be used, because its Hebrew name alludes to the 600,000 men put to hard labor in Egypt (the Hebrew letters of the word karpas can be rearranged to spell “samekh parekh”; the letter samekh has a numerical value of sixty or 600,000, and parekh means hard labor)" (emphasis mine). It doesn't seem to elaborate on where Maharil or Raavan say so.
    – Tamir Evan
    Dec 24, 2021 at 6:30
  • @Tamar many bring the allusion but they're not saying that's the meaning of the word carpas
    – robev
    Dec 24, 2021 at 7:18
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    I would think this is a remez and not the etymology of the word
    – robev
    Dec 24, 2021 at 7:18
  • @robev I don't think the OP knew any of the many sources that bring it as the allusion of כרפס (as opposed to the actual source/etymology/meaning of the word). Otherwise, he would have mentioned one of them.
    – Tamir Evan
    Dec 24, 2021 at 9:29

1 Answer 1


I don't think you will find it as being an exact meaning of the word, it is more an allusion and a symbolic feature that helps make the retelling of the Exodus on seder night more meaningful - i.e. it serves as a זכר, a remembrance. A bit like the Charoses is a remembrance to the טיט - the cement.

As far as an early source, the Avudraham writes it explicitly:

כרפס זכר לששים רבוא שנשתעבדו בעבודת פרך כי כשתהפוך כרפ תמצא בו פרך והס' סימן לששים רבוא

Karpas is a reminder of the 600,000 that slaved with crushing labour - when you switch (the lettering), you find in it "פרך" and the "ס" is a siman to the 600,000.

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