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    Ways to blot out Haman’s name – Ask the Rabbi

    Q. What ways are there to show disapproval of Haman?


    A. Over the course of history, almost every community developed its own customs. Hissing, booing, stamping one’s feet and rattling greggers have become well-nigh universal.

    Some highly proper Anglo-Jewish congregations of a former generation found all this quite undignified, but even in such places things have livened up considerably in recent years.

    Some communities try, with varying degrees of success, to bring the noisy disapproval of Haman within bounds, for example by waving a placard that says “Sh!” when enough is enough (no-one has invented a placard that says, Dayyenu” – presumably because that would mix up Purim and Pesach).

    In some places it was customary to bang together two smooth stones or wooden blocks upon which was written the name of Haman. In some places they wrote Haman’s name on the soles of one’s shoes and then stamped hard or rubbed the shoes on the ground.

    Many customs involve effigies of Haman. In Iraq in the Middle Ages, young men would make a Haman effigy and hang it on the roof before Purim; on the day itself they would make a bonfire, throw the effigy on it and leap across the fire from one side to the other.

    In Yemen, an effigy of Haman was made of intertwined pieces of wood smeared with clay, creating a large heap in the shape of a man, which was then painted in bright colours. The effigy was hung on a high tree in the synagogue courtyard and arrows and stones were hurled at it until it was broken to bits.

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