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What’s With Those Hamentashen

David Golinkin has a nice overview of customs relating to different foods that are or were eaten on Purim.

One of the foods mentioned by various rabbis was “Purim kreplech”. This custom is first mentioned by Rabbi Yozl Hochshtadt who says that his teacher Rabbi Yisrael Isserlein (d. 1460) did not want to eat kreplech at the Purim feast on Purim eve (Leket Yosher, ed. Freimann, Vol. I,Berlin, 1903, p. 34). Rabbi Isaiah Horowitz, the Shelah (Prague, Israel, ca. 1565-1630), says that the dough was kneaded with honey and spices and filled with fruits or jam (Shenei Luhot Haberit, part I, Sha’ar Ha’otiot, fol. 65a). Similar recipes are mentioned by Emek Berakhah and Or Hadash (quoted by Kosover, p. 75, note 197). Rabbi Yoel Sirkes (Poland, 1561-1640, Bah to Tur Orah Hayyim 168) says that “the dough of the Purim kreplech is kneaded in honey and spices or in goose fat and then it is made into pockets filled with nuts and raisins. (Cf. his son-in-law Rabbi David Halevi in the Taz to the Shulhan Arukh, ibid., 168:3.) Rabbi David Oppenheim (Bohemia, 1664-1736) mentions “kreplech that are made on Purim” in his Hanhagot Adam (Pollack, p. 276, note 52). Rabbi Yehudah Askenazi of Ticktin (ca. 1742) also mentions “kreplech shel Purim” (Ba’er Heiteiv to Orah Hayyim 168, subparag. 11).

For more on hamantashen see this post by Eliezer Brodt.

4 Responses to “What’s With Those Hamentashen”

  1. 1

    Seems to rely on Eliezer Brodt’s articles on the topic that were posted on the Seforim Blog.

  2. 2
    Menachem Mendel (Michael P.):

    I don’t think so, but thanks for reminding me about Eliezer’s articles.

  3. 3

    Maybe I am reading too much into it but
    R’ Golinkin-
    “Similarly, in his discussion of Ozen Haman (p. 131), Eliezer Ben Yehudah quotes Rabbi Isaac Abarbanel’s commentary to Exodus 16:31. The Abarbanel (Spain, Portugal, Italy 1437-1508) says that “tzapihit” mentioned in the verse about manna is “a food made from flour cooked in oil, in the shape of atzapahat [a pitcher] of water eaten with honey. And it is like the rekikim [cakes] made from dough in the shape of ears cooked in oil, and they are dipped in honey, and they are called ears. So is the tzapihit bidvash [in this verse]” (ed. Avishai Schotland, Jerusalem, 1997, pp. 245-246). This interpretation was taken from Metzaref Lakesef by Rabbi Yosef ibn Kaspi to Exodus 16:31 (1279-1340). Indeed, these two rabbis are describing a food that is similar tohamentashen, but that food had no connection to Purim whatsoever”

    And R’ Brodt-
    “As we can see, the custom of eating hamentashen is widespread and common from at least the 16th century. In fact, R. Shmuel Ashkenazi pointed to some sources which may demonstrate that hamentashen were eaten even earlier. Ben Yehuda in his dictionary claims that as early as the time of the Abarbanel (1437-1508), hamentashen were consumed. The Abarbanel, discussing the food which fell from heaven, the mon, describes these cakes as:[19]

    וצפיחית הוא מאכל הקמח מבושל בשמן כצורת צפחת המים הנאכל בדבש והוא כמו הרקיקים העושים מן הבצק כדמות אזנים מבושלות בשמן ויטבלו אותם בדבש ויקראוהו אזנים

    This sounds like our hamentashen although there is no reference to eating them on Purim. But R. Ashkenazi pointed out to me that if this is the source, you might then be able to suggest that hamentashen was already eaten much earlier, as this piece of the Abarbanel is word for word taken from R Yosef ibn Kaspi who lived several hundred years earlier (Kaspi was born in 1298 and died in 1340)!”

    R Golinkin neglects to mention Ashkenazi as the source

  4. 4
    Joe in Australia:

    The cakes “in the shape of a pitcher” are probably scrolls of fried dough in the shape of a two-dimensional line drawing of a pitcher with a curved handle. Similar scrolls are popular even today: in Europe they’re called “Oreilles de Cochon” or “Schweine Ohren”, although in the USA they are often called “Elephant Ears”. The connection to “oznei Haman” should be obvious.




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