Special Purim Foods

Hamantashen - the most widespread food on Purim is a special pastry, popularly known as Hamantashen. This is a triangular piece of dough, usually filled with sweetened poppy seeds. The origin of the name is unclear and there are various theories. Some people say that Haman wore a three-cornered hat, and that is why the pocket of dough is triangular. Others refer to the midrash that relates that when Haman entered the King's treasury, he was bent over, covered with shame, and humiliated (literally with clipped ears). Hamantashen also means that Haman's force was exhausted ("tash coho") when he came to harm the Jews, and it is inferred that this will be fate of all those who try to do us harm.

The source of the pastry was apparently poppy seed pockets called "Mantashen". The name was intentionally distorted to "Haman tash" - pockets of Haman. It is a mitzvah to devour Haman with open mouth. Besides Hamantashen, biscuits made of sugar and sweet starch are also widespread on Purim.

Kreplach - mince meat covered with dough, also triangular in shape. The reason for eating kreplach on Purim is implied in two ways, based on initials.

  • KRP - Kippur, Hoshana Rabba, Purim - these are the holidays on which we eat Kreplach, and they are connected with beating and striking (on the eve of Yom Kippur - 39 lashes that the penitents apply to themselves; Hoshana Rabba - striking the Arevot; Purim - striking Haman during the Megillah reading.
  • Based on the verse in the book of Deuteronomy (13:16): "Hakeh takeh et yoshvei ha-ir" (you will surely smite the inhabitants of that city"), and of course in relation to beating and striking:
    HAKEH TAKEH - Hoshana Rabba, Kippur, Haman - "Tochlu Kreplach Harbeh" (You will eat a lot of Kreplach!!!)

Purim Challah - A special, very large challah with raisins is baked for the Purim meal. Cakes are also baked, that have been kneaded with oil and butter, smeared with egg yolk and decorated with chocolate and sweets.

Purim fish - fish are not prepared on Purim in the same way as for the other festivals. They are usually cooked in vinegar, raisins and spices.

Seeds - several ancient sources make mention of the custom of eating seeds on the eve of Purim in memory of Esther who ate only seeds in the King's palace. This is also the source of the custom of filling the Hamantashen with poppy seeds.

Beans and cereals. In many places people ate beans and cereal on Purim, in memory of the piety of Esther, who ate no forbidden foods in Achashverosh's palace but only cereals. There may also be a reference here to affliction and mourning, which are symbolized by cereals and beans.

Turkey - it is customary to eat turkey ("tarnegol hodu") on Purim, in memory of Achashverosh who reigned from India ("Hodu") to Ethiopia. It is well-known that the turkey was considered a symbol of foolishness in the European nations, and among the Jews in general, and there is a reference to Achashverosh's foolishness here.


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