The Noisiest Bible Story Ever

Blotting out the name of Haman

Blotting out the name of Haman

When the story of Queen Esther is read every year at the Jewish Feast of Purim, those listening try to blot out the name of Haman every time it is mentioned by making a noise. As Haman’s name appears 54 times in the Book of Esther that makes it a very noisy event. A custom has developed of writing the name of Haman, an offspring of the Amalekites, on two smooth stones, and knocking them together until the name is blotted out. Some write the name of Haman on the soles of their shoes, and at the mention of the name stamp with their feet as a sign of contempt. Many use a noisy ratchet, called a ra’ashan (from the Hebrew ra-ash, meaning “noise”) .

Mordecai instituted the practice at the feast of Purim of gifts being given to those in need. Food and drink are often packaged in decorative baskets or boxes and given as presents. Traditionally, each gift contains two servings of different kinds of food that are ready to eat. Nuts, dried fruit, chocolate, hamantaschen, fresh fruit and breads are common items. 

At the Purim holiday meal dessert will usually include triangular shaped cookies called Hamantaschen (“Haman’s pockets”) or Oznei Haman (“Haman’s ears”). A sweet pastry dough is rolled out, cut into circles, and traditionally filled with a poppy seed filling; it is then wrapped up into a triangular shape with the filling either hidden or showing. More recently, prunes, dates, apricots, and chocolate fillings have been introduced. Why are these triangular in shape?. Some say they represent a triangular-shaped hat worn by Haman, Others say they represent the three founders of Judaism: Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

Many at the feast of Purim dress up in costumes, some representing the characters in the story of Esther. A fast takes place between sunrise and sunset to remember how the Jews went without food for three days as they asked God to deliver them.

There is certainly scope in this story for creative teachers to make this story memorable.

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