by Al Herbach
We've all read stories about hats. Whether it's a cat in a hat, a ten-gallon hat or a man with a yellow hat, a head covering can be the focus of a great story.
But at Purim, we talk about a triangular hat.
The story of Purim, as written in the Book of Esther, takes us back to ancient Persia. The three-second definition:
Purim commemorates the deliverance of the Jewish people in the ancient Persian Empire from destruction in the wake of a plot by Haman.
A longer retelling:
King Ahasuerus has become upset with his queen and decides to find another. Esther, a Jewish orphan being raised by her cousin Mordecai, “finds favor with the king,” so he chooses her to become his new queen - but she doesn't reveal that she's Jewish. Mordecai finds out about a plot to overthrow the king and stops the coup, and his service to the king is put on record.
Haman, the king’s right-hand man who always wears a tri-cornered hat (this is where the hat comes in), is upset that Mordecai will not bow down to him. When he finds out Mordecai is Jewish, he plots to kill all the Jews. Mordecai finds this out and asks Esther to help devise a plan to save the Jewish people. Esther plans several dinners and invites both the king and Haman. Unable to sleep one night, the king is reminded that Mordecai saved his life and asks Haman how to honor a great person. Haman, thinking that the king is referring to him, states that the honored one should be led through the city on the king’s horse wearing the king’s robes. The king orders Haman to honor Mordecai in this manner. After the second dinner, Esther tells the king that Haman is planning to kill all of her people. The king orders Haman killed and so Esther saved the day.
When we read the Book of Esther in synagogue, we make noise every time that Haman’s name is spoken in order to blot out his memory. For the record, Haman’s name appears 54 times.
As it was the wine that made the king receptive to Esther’s requests, we are commanded to drink wine so that we cannot tell the difference between “Cursed is Haman” and “Blessed is Haman.” In order to take away Haman's power, we make triangular cookies filled with fruits to represent his tri-cornered hat, called Hamantashen.
So take a moment to enjoy these delicious cookies and rejoice that no one wears tri-cornered hats today!
- 2 ½ cups flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- ¼ cup melted butter
- 1 egg
- 2 tsp vanilla
- ¾ cup milk
- 1 can Solo fruit or poppyseed filling
Mix the flour, baking powder, sugar, salt, butter, egg and milk. Knead well. Roll the dough out thin and cut into rounds about 2 inches in diameter. Place a spoonful of Solo filling in the center of each round, draw up three sides and pinch sides together in the shape of a triangle. Place on a greased cookie sheet and bake at 375°F for 35 minutes or until delicately brown.
Guest blogger Al Herbach CEO of SchmaltzOnline, a classic Jewish deli that ships Jewish goodness to people all around the country.