I printed this in 2007, and I am posting it again, with some updates.
Among the many minhagim at the seder are the two tibbulim. One is karpas in saltwater, the other is maror in charoses. These dippings are sufficiently unusual that they elicit one of the four questions in the Mah Nishtanah. Why indeed do we do these two tibbulim? See Psochim 114b and Rashi there that we do this “k’dei she’yishalu hatinokos.” This is one of the times the Gemora uses this unusual answer, which basically means that there is no intrinsic reason at all to do it, other than arousing the curiosity of children by engaging in unusual behavior.
Now that we have grown up, it is time to realize that the gemora’s answer cannot possibly be meant literally. The gemara's reason may explain some aspect of the tibbulim, but certainly is not the fundamental reason for the tibbulim.
(Based on >something I heard in the name of< the Chiddah.) Two events of tibbul are central to the story of our golus and pidyon from Mitzrayim– the tibbul of Yosef’s Kesones Hapasim in blood, and the tibbul of the Agudas Eizov in blood as part of the first Korbon Pesach ceremony in Mitzrayim. We see, then, that the Golus Mitzrayim was bracketed by two tibbulim. The tevilla of Yosef’s kesones culminated the episode of the brother’s hatred of Yosef, which ultimately brought all the Bnei Yisroel to Mitzrayim. That tevilla marked the onset of the avdus. The second tevilla, whose purpose was to mark the houses of the Jews by applying the blood of the korbon to the frame of the door, was the event that gave the holiday its name– Pesach, ki posach Hashem- for Hashem passed over our houses- and this set into motion the actual redemption from Mitzrayim. One was a tevilla that brought avdus, one that brought cheirus.
As always, one might say that this is a clever observation that may or may not be significant. Coincidences do happen, and they don’t necessarily prove anything. But there is another step.
The first tibbul is karpas. Rashi in Vayeisheiv, Breishis 37:3 says that Kesones Pasim means a coat made of wool, and he brings a similar use of the word Pasim from the Megillah, “Karpas ut’cheiles.” So, what do you know. The word pasim is a form of pas, or karpas. It now becomes absolutely clear that when Chazal instituted the two tibbulim, they had these two events in mind, the tibbul at the onset of the golus, and the tibbul at the onset of the geulah.
Two questions still remain.
I. !אין להכחיש את המוחש Why are Chazal always saying that the tibul of the karpas is k’dei she’yishalu hatinokos, when it is obvious that there is a better reason. What are they hiding, and why are they hiding it?
It is true that the Gemara says a similar thing in Chagiga as to why we bring children to the Hakhel event, Litein Schar L'meivi'eihen. It doesn't mean it what it says there either.
II. Is there any special connection between the tibbul of the agudas eizov in the dahm pesach and the tibbul of moror in charoses.
After posting this, several people brought up worthy additions.
1. Joshe M., of http://haprozdor.blogspot.com/, wrote in a comment that the second tibbul does reflect the tibbul of the agudas eizov in the dahm pesach, since it is a green vegetable dipped into a red substance.
2. Josh M. also suggested that the Hagadah is not a time to focus on negative traits of the Bnei Yisroel, so any allusion to the sinas achim against Yosef was cloaked in symbols. (The only taineh I had on this was that according to Rav In Psachim 116b that Poschim bi'gnai refers to Terach's avoda Zara, then we're not hiding chesronos in our background. But perhaps sinas chinam among the Shivtei Kah is a lot worse than Terach's avoda zara.)
3. Another reader pointed out, very cleverly, I think, that both tibbulim represent change: negation, or, at least, mitigation. The first, Karpas in saltwater, is a sweet, flavorful food dipped into a salty substance, which can be said to counter or mitigate the sweetness of the karpas.
So, too, the episode of the kesones marked the change from an undisturbed, pastoral life, by the hatred that led to the sale of Yosef and the galus Mitzrayim.
The second tibbul, the Moror in Charoses, mitigates the bitterness of the moror, and marks the end of Shibud Mitzrayim by way of the Korbon Pesach.
Yasher Koachachem for your he'oros.
As for the question of why Chazal didn't tell us the real reason for the tibulim:
See Reb Chaim Shmuelevitz's Sichos Mussar #66, on Parshas Achrei Mos. Aharon was warned not to enter the Kodesh Kadashim "b'chol eis." Reb Chaim brings from the Chosid Yaaveitz that habit is the enemy of enthusiasm. Aharon was warned to avoid going into the Kodesh Kadashim so that he shouldn't lose his sensitivity and awe for the kedusha that was present there. He later connects this with the din of Sippur, that it has to be by question and answer. He says that it is only through question and answer that one is stimulated to come up with novel and creative perspectives, and this new apprehension will help us to re-experience Yetzias Mitzrayim. When one is asked a question, he naturally seeks to find his own novel answer.
See the Shaar HaTziyun 472 end of #2. What he says is that the Mah Nishtana, and all the seder, are not nearly as important as the sense of awe and surprise our seder meal inspires in children, so that they are filled with wonder and ask questions. Mah Nishtana is a pale and attenuated version of what really should be happening at the seder.
That being the case, Chazal are telling us that while there are good reasons for the various minhagim of the seder, particularly the two dippings, the questions they elicit are more important than the reasons. A seder where people are shaken out of their old assumptions, a seder that wakes people up to learn new things, is far more important than a seder where everyone merely repeats what everyone already knows.
Make the seder your own! Every family needs to have its own hagadah! Every person needs to remember "This is what we said here, this is what we sang, this is where he did this or that, this is how we made the Ke'arah." Don't somnambulate through the Maxwell House. Write your own hagadah. Just don't put an orange on the Ke'arah.
Rav Shimon Kalman G. told me several things.
1. The third question in the Mah Nishtanah is "why do we dip two times." The Pri Chadash in 473 (here, twelve lines from the top,) says that the first tibbul is without any reason other than to stimulate discussion, kdei she'yish'alu, and since that's the case, we never actually answer the child's question about shtei p'amim! Isn't that strange? The nusach is that the child should ask, and the Gemara says that we do the tibbulim so the child should ask, and the Pri Chadash says that we have no answer to his question!
2. The Chasam Sofer in his Drashos (here, middle of first paragraph) says the same thing.
As far as answering this question, we do not find in the words of Chazal anything other than "in order to do something unusual for the little children." The reason we are tovel twice is davka because there are kids who know a lot about the whole story, because they learn Chumash, so if we only did things that reflected the story they know, they wouldn't have anything to ask. So we davka do something that has no shaychus to the story of yetzias mitzrayim, so they'll have what to ask- and we have no answer, but it will stimulate talk and questions and dialogue.
3. The Chasam Sofer in his Drashos (here, DH Yachol) says
Rav Shimon Kalman uses this Chasam Sofer to remind us that the minhag of our schools to arm children with volumes of questions and answers and visual aids and three dimensional pop ups is contrary to the Chasam Sofer's vision of the purpose of the mitzva of Sippur. The kids should come and be surprised, not like a maggid with prepared speeches.
4. The Shulchan Aruch Harav (472:15) says that even if a person is making the seder by himself, and there are no children there, he still has to do the tibbulim, because לא חילקו חכמים. He doesn't say "because there are many hidden reasons, and those reasons still apply." He just says that although the takana was to do a milsa di'tmi'ah to surprise children, the takana was universal and applies to all cases. Again, you see the presumption that what you see is all there is, particularly surprising coming from the Baal HaTanya.
HAVING SAID THIS, from the Pri Chadash and the Chasam Sofer, we are left, once again, to wonder why the true explanation for the tibbulim was hidden. Again, we must say that Chazal davka did not want us to have a cut and dry explanation for everything. They davka wanted to leave some things unanswered, so that every person, every family, would have their own approach to the question, and would be forced to engage in conversation and dialogue and give and take.
great unknown, wrote the following in his comment, which is both informative and well constructed:
As Rav Hutner points out, even the perek which deals with the יציאת מצרים is based on questions: מה לך הים, etc.
And yes, the schools which send kids home with volumes of answers are probably being מבטל the מצות עשה of והגדת actively. Isn't frumkeit great...
Conjecture: while שואלים ודורשים בהלכות החג thirty days earlier, that's only the halachos. The גר"א ברוח קדשו forbids reading even the פרשת קרבן פסח because of the ביטול עשה of ביום הזה. Could that be so that even the adults go into פסח with questions rather than answers?
I don't have the answer to that. Only the question.