(6) That same day Pharaoh charged the taskmasters and foremen of the people, saying, (7) “You shall no longer provide the people with straw for making bricks as heretofore; let them go and gather straw for themselves. (8) But impose upon them the same quota of bricks as they have been making heretofore; do not reduce it, for they are shirkers; that is why they cry, ‘Let us go and sacrifice to our God!’ (9) Let heavier work be laid upon the men; let them keep at it and not pay attention to deceitful promises.” (10) So the taskmasters and foremen of the people went out and said to the people, “Thus says Pharaoh: I will not give you any straw. (11) You must go and get the straw yourselves wherever you can find it; but there shall be no decrease whatever in your work.” (12) Then the people scattered throughout the land of Egypt to gather stubble for straw. (13) And the taskmasters pressed them, saying, “You must complete the same work assignment each day as when you had straw.” (14) And the foremen of the Israelites, whom Pharaoh’s taskmasters had set over them, were beaten. “Why,” they were asked, “did you not complete the prescribed amount of bricks, either yesterday or today, as you did before?” (15) Then the foremen of the Israelites came to Pharaoh and cried: “Why do you deal thus with your servants? (16) No straw is issued to your servants, yet they demand of us: Make bricks! Thus your servants are being beaten, when the fault is with your own people.” (17) He replied, “You are shirkers, shirkers! That is why you say, ‘Let us go and sacrifice to the Eternal.’ (18) Be off now to your work! No straw shall be issued to you, but you must produce your quota of bricks!” (19) Now the foremen of the Israelites found themselves in trouble because of the order, “You must not reduce your daily quantity of bricks.”
(ג) הֵבִיאוּ לְפָנָיו, מְטַבֵּל בַּחֲזֶרֶת, עַד שֶׁמַּגִּיעַ לְפַרְפֶּרֶת הַפַּת. הֵבִיאוּ לְפָנָיו מַצָּה וַחֲזֶרֶת וַחֲרֹסֶת וּשְׁנֵי תַבְשִׁילִין, אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁאֵין חֲרֹסֶת מִצְוָה. רַבִּי אֱלִיעֶזֶר בְּרַבִּי צָדוֹק אוֹמֵר, מִצְוָה.
(3) [Then] they set [food] before him. He dips the lettuce before he reaches the course following the [unleavened] bread. [Then] they set before him unleavened bread, lettuce, and a mixture of apples, nuts, and wine, and two dishes, although the mixture of apples, nuts, and wine is not compulsory. Rabbi Eliezer bar Tzadok says: It is compulsory.
Rabbi Arthur Waskow, The Shalom Center:
"Why is there charoset on the Seder plate?"...
The Haggadah explains about matzah, the bread so dry it blocks your insides for a week.
The Haggadah explains about the horse-radish so bitter it blows the lid off your lungs and makes breathing so painful you wish you could just stop.
The Haggadah even explains about that scrawny chicken neck masquerading as a whole roast lamb.
But it never explains charoset.
Yes, there's an oral tradition. (Fitting for something that tastes so delicious!) You've probably heard somebody at a Passover Seder claim that charoset is the mortar the ancient Israelite slaves had to paste between the bricks and stones of those giant warehouses they were building for Pharaoh.
But that's a cover story. Really dumb. You think that mortar was so sweet, so spicy, so delicious that every ancient Israelite just had to slaver some mortar on his tongue?
You think it wasn't leeks and onions they wailed for after they crossed the Sea of Blood, but the mortar they were pasting on their masters' mansions? You think they were whining, "Give me mortar or give me death?"
Forbid it, Almighty God!...
[Unlike everything else on the seder plate, we don't say a blessing over the charoset on Passover. We do, however, read the Song of Songs.] The Song of Songs is the recipe for charoset. Verses from the Song:
"Feed me with apples and with raisin-cakes;
"Your kisses are sweeter than wine;
"The scent of your breath is like apricots;
"Your cheeks are a bed of spices;
"The fig tree has ripened;
"Then I went down to the walnut grove."