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As everybody knows, there is an ancient minhag of debating whether latkes or hamantaschen are better. But why does this debate not include sufganiot? I believe that sufganiot should have been included for the following reasons:

  1. It seems strange that the clearly inferior Chanukah food should be chosen to be the one that is compared to hamantaschen.

  2. Sufganiot are generally more similar to hamantaschen than latkes are, which makes the debate more interesting as the debaters must consider subtle details.

To me, it seems that sufganiot should have been chosen instead of latkes or at least in addition to them. So why was the minhag not established that way?


This question is Purim Torah and is not intended to be taken completely seriously. See the Purim Torah policy.

3

The source for eating sufganiyot is the letter of the Rambam's father R. Maimon in which he describes the tradition of eating sufganiyot:

ופשט המנהג לעשות סופגנין...והם הצפחיות בדבש

Thus, sufganiyot correspond to the manna. A debate about whether sufganiyot are superior to hamentaschen would replicate the debate between Turnus Rufus and R. Akiva over which is superior, the creations of God or of man. R. Akiva's victory in that debate would make this superfluous. (This would also explain why we eat sufganiyot on Chanukah, which stands for the open miracle of divine intervention, in contrast to the hidden miracle of Purim in which all events seemingly stem from human action.)

Instead, the debate centers on the hamentaschen (which must be filled with poppy seed, an opiate product popular in the Persian empire) and the latke, made of fried potatoes and onions. Here, the focus of the debate is about the external vs. the internal--fried foods represent the external hashpa'ah of the oil which gives them their flavor (no one eats raw potatoes or onions, but once they are fried in oil they too become delicious), and the hamentaschen represent the process of hashpa'ah from inside to out. (Cf. Bnei Yissaschar on the symbolism of the dreidl, with its handle from above.) Thus the real question of the hamentaschen vs. latke debate is whether spiritual growth should be centripetal or centrifugal, which would have been obscured had the debate focused on sufganiyot instead.

  • Of course the simple teretz is that they are one and the same, as in Ibn Kaspi: 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 cited here: seforim.blogspot.com/2007/02/… – Loewian Mar 21 '16 at 3:11
  • @Loewian are you claiming that hamentaschen are sufganiyot? Interesting – wfb Mar 21 '16 at 6:59
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In actuality, sufganiyot could never be compared to hamantaschen, for they are one and the same, as first mentioned by Ibn Kaspi, cited by the Abarbanel, and then again by the SeforimBlog:

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

And tzappichit is the foodstuff of flour cooked in oil, like the form of the jug of water, that is eaten with honey and it is like the wafers made with dough like the form of the ears cooked in oil and they dipped them in honey and they called them "Ears".

Al pi sod, this is because Chanuka and Purim themselves are really one and the same, which can be seen in the overlapping themes of the parshiot read on their adjacent Shabbatot (e.g. Yosef appointed viceroy like Mordechai, read on Chanukah; Torat Kohanim read near Purim, etc.).

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As you know, in U.S.A., at least, people are becoming more health-conscious. Baked foods are considered healthier than fried foods.

Im contrasting the health benefits of two foods, doctors and nutritionists generally contrast the greatest extremes that they can find amd / or "appeal" to the public. The public probably won't see the contrast to sufganiyot, even though they are fried. But, most people assume that they are a type of cake or pastry which is similar to hamantaschen which is also a cake, pastry or cookie.

To emphasize the dangers of eating fried food, nutritionists would choose something that people readily know is fried, which why latkes are chosen as the contrasting food.

  • 1
    not sure this answer qualifies as purim torah – wfb Mar 14 '16 at 21:24

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