I’m not easily outraged.
Okay, maybe I am. Sometimes. But there are times, surely we must all agree, when censure is called for, when holy traditions are profaned by self-styled reformers, when illegitimate changes are adopted by perhaps well-meaning but woefully misguided fellow Jews in the ostensible interest of “progress.”
Times when someone must simply stand up and say, “Stop!”
And so, amid deafening silence here, the role, it seems, has fallen to me.
In the name of all that is right and upstanding, I intrepidly declare to the world, come what may—picketers at my home, doxing on websites, angry letters to this distinguished publication—that the replacement of mann (or moon, if you’re one of them) in hamantashen with untraditional (not to mention less savory) fillings must end.
The first salvo in the war against mann was fired many years ago with the advent of, lo aleinu, prune hamantashen. Prune. Could there be a greater insult to Purim? But we did not speak out. Then they came with the apricots. But we weren’t eating apricots, so we did not speak out. Then they came with the cherry. But we weren’t eating the cherries and did not speak out. We just didn’t see how slippery was the slope.
Then, over the years, came more and more objectionable fare: apple, strawberry jam, raspberry…and, in an act of unparalleled desecration, CHOCOLATE! As if our forebears ever even tasted chocolate! What’s next? Peanut butter? Quinoa? Sushi? Ugh.
The law, after all, is quite clear. In the fifth chelek of the Shulchan Aruch there’s a siman forbidding the filling of hamantashen with anything but mann. (The Tipshei Tom permits sunflower seeds, but we don’t hold like him.)
And in the Shulchan Aruch’s non-imaginary first chelek, we find the reason we eat hamantashen on Purim in the first place. It’s a tribute of sorts to the seeds that Daniel, identified in the Gemara with Hasach, Esther’s faithful messenger, ate in the house of the king of Bavel.
And of course, to Esther herself, who, keeping her identity secret while living in the king’s palace, avoided eating nonkosher food and survived on beans and seeds.
And don’t get any ideas about beans.
Mind you, mann isn’t just good for your soul, it’s good for your body! Poppy seeds contain oleic and linoleic acids, which offer protection against heart disease, not to mention calcium, iron and phosphorus, all essential for bone health. And don’t forget copper, which is useful if one values one’s red blood cells.
Yes, mann seeds are from the poppy (papaver somniferum), the same plant that produces opium. Which is why there have been reports of people failing drug tests because they had recently ingested large amounts of poppy seeds (one of the reasons drug tests are not recommended on Purim). But there are only tiny residual amounts of opiates in mann. And so any stumbling around in a daze this Erev Shabbos will likely be the result of factors other than over-ingestion of authentic hamantashen.
By the way, did you know that the most desirable and popular poppy seeds are not black (not that there’s anything wrong with that!) but rather, dark blue? There are also white varieties (and for some mann overdosers, flying white elephants too).
But back to our topic, the need to defend a time-honored custom from radical “progressivism.”
Think of the children and grandchildren, and of generations to come. Will there, Heaven forfend, come a day when the word “hamantashen” conjures up something more like a fruit tart or chocolate chip cookie than…a true hamantash? We must march on the Capitol! If not, you will have an illegitimate delectable. That is what you will have, and we can’t let that happen. Stop the Steal! Fight like Hasach! (But peacefully and patriotically.)
And so, all of us—chasidim, Litvish, Sefardim and Persians alike—who remain faithful to our mesorah (and to our taste buds, for nothing is more delicious than sweetened poppy paste), whether we identify as mann-ies or moon-ies, must unite and make clear to our young and for the ages that there may be many ways to be a Jew, but only one way to truly be a hamantash.
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