The Hebrew translation of the Yiddish word Hamantaschen is Oznei Haman - "Ears of Haman". Hamantaschen sounds more like "Pockets of Haman". Why the different words and meanings for the same Purim delicacy?

  • 1
    Because legends are much more exciting and hence spread more than boring old etymology. Who wants to hear that originally they were called mohn-tashen, mohn meaning poppy seed and tashen meaning pockets and also signified dough that is filled with other food stuffs, and people therefore related the cake to the book of Esther and changed the mahn to Haman [due to its similarity]. In time the interpretation arose that the three cornered cakes are eaten because Haman wore a three cornered hat when he became prime minister to Ahasuerus. – mevaqesh Mar 17 '16 at 15:11
  • While this is a decent question, making this cookie treat has become a common custom that has no mention in any Rabbinic source AFAIK. Thus, perhaps different cultures saw different ideas or some type of legend in their own culture to assign a name for the triangular shape. Israelis thought they were his ears (Other than an alien - closest, perhaps was "Mr. Spock") I have not heard of anyone with triangular ears. To me, triangular pockets is more of a possibility and sensible. The cookie has a "pocket" for the filling. Maybe that's how the Yiddish name came about? – DanF Mar 17 '16 at 15:15
  • Related: judaism.stackexchange.com/q/5663 – msh210 Mar 17 '16 at 16:04

I found the following from Rabbi Yom Tov Levinsky in Sefer Hamoadim. Although it is not a complete answer, it does mention the following.

The Hamantaschen were originally known as "Mahn Taschen" due to the filling of poppy seeds. The Hebrew letters of מהן is the same as the letters of המן thus this type of pastry was especially beloved by the Jews. This is the source of the word Hamantaschen. However in Germany this was known as "Haman's Oiren" = "Haman's Ears". In Italy it was known as "Orrechi d'Aman" = "Haman's Ears".

He mentions that Oznei Haman comes from according to some - that Haman's Ears were cut off prior to him being hung.

  • I wager that there's no spelling of "Mahn" as "מהן". More than likely, the transition "Mahn" to "Haman" was oral, not written. – magicker72 Mar 17 '16 at 17:20
  • @magicker72 I think you win. Who is paying your wager and where should s/he send it? – DanF Mar 17 '16 at 17:30

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .