Nobody mails me anything for any other holiday but on Purim my relatives send hamantaschen in the mail! What's the origin of this tradition?

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    I've never heard of this. Are you sure it's not just your family's personal tradition? Unless you're referring to mishloach manot. They only send hamentaschen and nothing else and only by mail? – robev Feb 20 at 16:42
  • Most other holiday foods would probably be ruined in the mail: sufganiyot crushed, matza crumbled, honey spilled...hamantaschen are pretty durable... :) – Harel13 Feb 20 at 17:11
  • Purim is the one holiday where one is commanded not to eat but to send something to someone else to be eaten. Why would I mail you matzah when I have the obligation to eat matzah. But since on Purim my obligation is to give you something to eat, it makes sense to send you something to eat. – rosends Feb 20 at 23:42
  • @rosends sharing food gifts is a tradition on all Jewish holidays, which is why esther thought to enact it here. Only later did people focus o fulfilling technical obligations instead of naturally celebrating – Double AA Feb 21 at 0:23
  • Is sharing foods mandated on other holidays? The question is asking about an activity NOW and the technical obligation would explain the unique behavior. – rosends Feb 21 at 1:05

Welcome to Mi Yodea Sam! It could be that your family sends Hamantashen to you on Purim as part of the Mishshloach Manos - food sent to each other in order to cultivate camaraderie and spark/deepen relationships. It's a unique mitzvah on Purim to send food to one another as Esther says in the Megilla (9:22)

כַּיָּמִים אֲשֶׁר־נָחוּ בָהֶם הַיְּהוּדִים מֵאוֹיְבֵיהֶם וְהַחֹדֶשׁ אֲשֶׁר נֶהְפַּךְ לָהֶם מִיָּגוֹן לְשִׂמְחָה וּמֵאֵבֶל לְיוֹם טוֹב לַעֲשׂוֹת אוֹתָם יְמֵי מִשְׁתֶּה וְשִׂמְחָה וּמִשְׁלוֹחַ מָנוֹת אִישׁ לְרֵעֵהוּ וּמַתָּנוֹת לָאֶבְיוֹנִים׃ - the same days on which the Jews enjoyed relief from their foes and the same month which had been transformed for them from one of grief and mourning to one of festive joy. They were to observe them as days of feasting and merrymaking, and as an occasion for sending gifts to one another and presents to the poor.

Although it may be nice to send matzah before Pesach or apples with honey for Rosh Hashana, there is specifically a mitzvah on Purim to give Shalach Manos - literally "send food"

  • Not a unique mitzva of Purim. The pasuk says to send food gifts on Rosh Hashanah too, describing normal holiday behavior of Simcha. Rambam writes that those who don't share their food with the downtrodden on holidays aren't celebrating the holidays but celebrating their stomachs. It's not just "nice". – Double AA Feb 21 at 3:02
  • @DoubleAA Good point on sharing food on Rosh Hashana - I assumed that was more for inspiring confidence in having rachamim during the Yom HaDin, but point well taken. The Rambam's halacha for other holidays isn't necessarily for uplifting those who have their own food to eat, thus I assume the OP is asking the question based on the average situation where he has food. – NJM Feb 21 at 3:51
  • On the contrary, many of us discovered the hard way this year that Yom Tov without sharing kiddush and meals with friends and family is not the way it's supposed to be. That's not just a modern social convention but the ancient tradition apparent in so many sources and stories (shalmei simcha, pesach chabbura, mikra kodesh). Rambam is just reminding us not to forget to include the downtrodden as well in our celebrations, not unlike esther. – Double AA Feb 21 at 3:58
  • @DoubleAA Certainly agree on the sharing of seudos on Yom Tov and the like being the norm, but my impression was that they didn't "send" the food to one another as much as shared meals in close proximity with family/friends. The uniqueness of this particular mitzvah on Purim is sending outside your central location to someone else to enjoy in their location. – NJM Feb 21 at 4:28
  • That's incorrect. Sharing meals is a perfectly acceptable way to fullfil the mitzva of Purim. It's one of the examples in the Gemara, no? Story about Abaye – Double AA Feb 21 at 4:33

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