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    Hamantaschen – Ask the Rabbi

    Q. Why are Hamantaschen eaten on Purim?

    A. Hamantaschen, three-cornered sweet pastries filled with poppyseed or jam, might originally have had no Purim connection at all; the name may be a misunderstanding of mohntasch (“a pocket of poppyseed”). But since eating them on Purim became widespread, the name was changed to Hamantaschen in order to link them with the Purim story.

    Some say the name is from tash (kocho shel) Haman – “may Haman’s strength become weak”. Hamantaschen are also called oznei Haman (“Haman’s ears”); Abravanel knew of delicacies baked in the shape of human ears and dipped in honey, and Immanuel of Rome says there was a legend that the Jews cut off Haman’s ears after he was hanged (this is unlikely to have happened, though an old Italian law required that a thief’s ears be cut off if he were caught).

    The three corners of the Hamantaschen are explained by some as recalling Haman’s three-cornered hat and by others as referring to the three Biblical Patriarchs, whose merit saved the Jews of Persia from destruction.

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