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GALLERY: Hamantaschen

Hamantash is also spelled hamentasch, homentash, homentasch, or even (h)umentash. The name hamantash is commonly viewed as a reference to Haman, the villain of Purim, as described in the Book of Esther. The pastries are supposed to symbolize the defeated enemy of the Jewish people. The word tasche means "pouch" or "pocket" in German, and thus may refer to Haman's pockets, symbolizing the money that Haman offered to Ahasuerus in exchange for permission to destroy the Jews. In Hebrew, tash means "weaken", and the hamantash may celebrate the weakening of Haman and the hope that God will weaken all of the enemies of the Jews. Another possible source of the name is a folk etymology: the original Yiddish word מאָן־טאַשן (montashn) or the German word Mohntaschen, both meaning poppyseed-filled pouches, was transformed to hamantaschen, likely by association with Haman. In Israel, hamantaschen are called oznei Haman (Hebrew: אוזני המן‎), Hebrew for "Haman's ears" in reference to their defeated enemy's ears.

The reason for the three-sided shape is uncertain. There is an old legend that Haman wore a three-cornered hat. [5] The Midrash says that when Haman recognized the merit of the Three Patriarchs , his strength immediately weakened. [3] Naked Archaeologist documentarian Simcha Jacobovici has shown the resemblance of hamantaschen to dice from the ancient Babylonian Royal Game of Ur , thus suggesting that the pastries are meant to symbolize the pyramidal shape of the dice cast by Haman in determining the day of destruction for the Jews. [6]

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