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March 14, 2003 - Image 63

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2003-03-14

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

ANYTHING SZTT
OLD EAT

Why you won't be eating Haman's hat on Purim
and other need-to-know information.

ELIZABETH APPLEBAUM

AppleTree Editor

Opposite page,
clockwise from top:

Adam Ross, 8, of
Bloomfield Hills gets
help from his dad
Ron in putting together
a package of goodies
called mishloach manot
as part of the annual
Great Purim Parcel
project at the offices of
the Jewish Federation of
Metropolitan Detroit.

Dave Chomsky of
Southfield helps his
son, Nate, 9, seal a
finished Purim parcel.

Nicole Aaron, 15, of
West Bloomfield and
her father Burt wrap
up misloach manot to
be delivered.

IV hat would Purim be
without at least one edi-
ble hat?
Each year on the hol-
iday, we send mishloach manot to
friends and family. Invariably they
contain hamantashen, tasty, three-cor-
nered cookies filled with jam, poppy
seeds, chocolate chips or other sweets
that represent a hat worn by the evil
Haman, right?
Wrong.
Hats off to you (please, no groaning
allowed; this is, after all, Purim) if
you're one of the few who has not fall-
en prey to this misconception.
Despite popular belief to the con-
trary, there is absolutely no evidence
that Haman wore a three-cornered hat.
In fact, most scholars believe that
the three-cornered hat didn't even
come around until the 19th century,
as an imitation of the memorable hat
worn by Napoleon. So why do we
send hamantashen in mishloach
manot?
Most rabbis believe that it harkens
back to Queen Esther, whose greatness
was inspired by the three patriarchs
Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
One of the best parts of any Jewish
holiday is the eating, and it's especially
terrific on Purim because there's so

The Book of Nehemiah recounts how
Jews, after centuries of rule forbidding
them to do otherwise, were at last per-
mitted to read publicly from the
Torah. To celebrate, they began send-
ing gifts to the less fortunate.
Hamantashen are, of course, the
most popular item for inclusion in
mishloach manot, but if you would
like to expand your repertoire a bit,
consider kreplach (dumplings filled
with meat, cheese or potato) or sweet-
and-sour something.
Kreplach on Purim is traditional
among some families because the
process of chopping the meat is said to
reflect the loud stamping and clapping
that occurs whenever we hear Haman's
name during the reading of Megillat
Esther.
Certain chasidic Jews enjoy sweet-
and-sour foods on Purim because
these reflect the sweet-and-sour aspects
of the time: a fast day followed by one
of celebration.
And no a few tasty facts about
mishloach manot and Purim:
• Purim is unique in the annals of
Jewish history for many reasons. As
you may already know, God's name is
never mentioned in Megillat Esther.
Food For Thought
Today, sending little baskets of goodies This is because the megillah was writ-
ten as a scroll and sent throughout
is a custom associated with Purim
Persia to tell the story. Writers pre-
alone, but the idea of giving gifts as a
means of celebrating and thanking
ANYTHING BUT OLD HAT on page 64
God is hardly new in Jewish history.

much film and sweet stuff. (You might
stick a piece of kugel in mishloach
manot, but never, ever a brisket; and
those who would even consider send-
ing, say, cooked spinach would be in
the worst trouble.)
How did the whole idea of
mishloach manot get started, anyway?
In Hebrew, mishloach manot literally
means "sending portions." In the
Book of Esther (Megillat Esther 9:22),
we are directed to send these "por-
tions" as a way of expressing joy for
Esther's victory.
Sending mishloach manot is not just
a custom; it is Halachah, Jewish law.
We are commanded to send at least
two kinds of ready-to-eat food to at
least one friend. Further, this must be
done on Purim itself.
And while it may be nice to send
elaborate and impressive mishloach
manot, the rabbi and scholar
Maimonides said that one should not
send expensive mishloach manot if
these are in any way to come at the
expense of another Purim mitzvah:
giving to the poor.

3/14

2003

63

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