LETTUCE (Heb. חֲזֶרֶת, ḥazeret or חַסָּה, ḥssah), vegetable. Lettuce is not mentioned in the Bible. According to rabbinic tradition, however, it is included in the term merorim ("bitter herbs," Ex. 12:8) which are commanded to be eaten on the night of the Passover seder (see maror ). According to the Mishnah (Pes. 2:6) this obligation can be discharged with five species of vegetable, the first of which is חֲזֶרֶת, which the Gemara explains to be ḥassah (Pes. 39a). Lettuce when young has soft leaves and a sweet taste, but if left in the field until it begins to flower its leaves harden and become bitter. For this reason the rabbis stated that it is ideal as maror: "just as lettuce is first sweet and then bitter, so was the behavior of the Egyptians to our ancestors" (TJ, Pes. 2:5, 29c), or "because the lettuce is first soft and finally hard" (Pes. 39a). Lettuce was a popular vegetable. It is a winter crop which does not usually grow in summer, but people of wealth endeavored to obtain it out of season too. Thus it is related of antoninus and R. Judah ha-Nasi that their tables "did not lack lettuce even in summer" (Ber. 57b). Some think that the lettuce referred to is the wild variety Lactuca scariola out of which the cultivated "sweet" lettuce developed. Against this it should be noted that the growing of the cultivated variety is very ancient, it being depicted already in ancient Egyptian paintings, from which it seems that they grew the long-leaved lettuce, Lactuca sativa, var. longifolia, and apparently this variety was also grown in Israel in ancient times. The aforementioned wild variety, which is called the "compass lettuce" because its leaves point north and south, is found in all districts of Israel, particularly near refuse. The Mishnah (Kil. 1:2) calls it hazeret gallim, i.e., lettuce of the rubbish heaps, and decided that it is of the same species as the cultivated lettuce. The Samaritans have the custom of eating this wild lettuce with their Passover sacrifice. Among Jews of European origin the common custom is to eat as maror on the night of the seder horseradish, Armocaria rusticana, which they identify with the ḥazeret or tamkha mentioned as a bitter herb (Pes. 2:6), but this vegetable is sharp and not "bitter," nor was it grown in Ereẓ Israel in ancient times. -BIBLIOGRAPHY: Loew, Flora, 1 (1928), 424–39; H.N. and A.L. Moldenke, Plants of the Bible (1952), 6, 34, 74f., 140; J. Feliks, Kilei Zera'im ve-Harkavah (1967), 56–58; idem, Olam ha-ẓome'aḥ ha-Mikra'i (19682, 194–6. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: Feliks, Ha-Ẓome'aḥ, 58. (Jehuda Feliks)

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

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  • lettuce — (n.) late 13c., probably from O.Fr. laitues, pl. of laitue lettuce, from L. lactuca lettuce, from lac (gen. lactis) milk (see LACTATION (Cf. lactation)); so called for the milky juice of the plant …   Etymology dictionary

  • lettuce — ► NOUN 1) a cultivated plant with edible leaves that are eaten in salads. 2) used in names of other plants with edible green leaves, e.g. lamb s lettuce. ORIGIN Old French letues, from Latin lactuca, from lac milk (because of its milky juice) …   English terms dictionary

  • lettuce — [let′əs] n. [ME letuse < OFr laituës, pl. of laitue < L lactuca < lac (gen. lactis), milk (see GALACTIC): from its milky juice] 1. any of a genus (Lactuca) of hardy, annual composite plants; specif., a plant ( L. sativa) grown for its… …   English World dictionary

  • Lettuce — Taxobox name = Lettuce image width = 260 px image caption = Iceberg lettuce field in Northern Santa Barbara County regnum = Plantae divisio = Magnoliophyta classis = Magnoliopsida ordo = Asterales familia = Asteraceae genus = Lactuca species = L …   Wikipedia

  • lettuce — /let is/, n. 1. a cultivated plant, Lactuca sativa, occurring in many varieties and having succulent leaves used for salads. 2. any species of Lactuca. 3. Slang. U.S. dollar bills; greenbacks. [1250 1300; 1925 30 for def. 3; ME letuse, appar. …   Universalium

  • lettuce — n. 1) crisp lettuce 2) bib; iceberg; leaf lettuce 3) a head of lettuce * * * [ letɪs] iceberg leaf lettuce a head of lettuce bib crisp lettuce …   Combinatory dictionary

  • lettuce — noun ADJECTIVE ▪ crisp, crunchy ▪ limp ▪ chopped, shredded ▪ cos (BrE), iceberg, romaine …   Collocations dictionary

  • lettuce —    English lore seems a little confused about the lettuce. On the one hand we are assured that lettuce brings about sterility in men (Dodoens, Herball (1578), and Folkard, Plant Lore (1884), both quoted in Opie and Tatem), or that o ermuch… …   A Dictionary of English folklore

  • lettuce — noun /ˈlɛtɪs/ a) An edible plant, Lactuca sativa and its close relatives, having a head of green and/or purple leaves. I’ll have a ham sandwich with lettuce and tomato. b) The leaves of the lettuce plant, eaten as a vegetable; as a dish often… …   Wiktionary

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