Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Poppy Seeds, Sefer Daniel and Purim

By Rabbi Yair Hoffman

Now that the month of Adar has arrived, people will have started to make their Hamantaschen. Traditionally, hamantaschen have been made out of poppy seeds, although, of late, there are all sorts of other fillers that have popped up. Why poppy seeds?

The minhag was based upon a Ramah in Shulchan Aruch, where hecites the Kol Bo and writes [OC 695:2], “Some say that it is a custom to eat zironim – seeds on Purim, as a commemoration of the seeds that Daniel and his friends ate in Babylonia.”
Click here for recipe Poppy Seed Hamantaschen

Both the Pri Chadash and the Aruch haShulchan [OC 695:9] pose the following question:

Daniel? This is Purim – about Esther, not Daniel! Also, the Gemorah [Megillah 13a] tells us that Esther also ate seeds when she first came to the palace – Haigai fed it to her. Why then does the Ramah only quote Daniel?

Also, the Mishna Brurah mentions the Gemorah too, but does not address the question of the Pri Chadash and the Aruch haShulchan. I would like to propose the following answer.

Esther knew that there was rhyme and reason to her being taken into the palace. She knew that she was in need of a miracle. And now, those in charge of the women who were brought to the palace were offering them anything. She could have had her choice of any kosher food. Why then did she pick seeds?

Esther most certainly was aware of the miracle that happened to Daniel and his friends in the very beginning of Sefer Daniel. After ten days they were healthier and finer than all the others solely on a diet of seeds. This was the beginning of the help that Daniel rendered to his people. Perhaps she should take the same avenue.

With this answer we have greater insight into the minhag of eating poppy seed hamantaschen. Just as there was a miracle that occurred to Klal Yisroel regarding the seeds that Daniel and his friends ate, wherein they adhered strictly to the Kosher dietary laws through seeds and just like Esther tried to follow in those footsteps, so too should we merit miracles by virtue of our adhering carefully to the Torah’s dietary laws as symbolized by the poppy seeds.

There is another message about Purim that everyone could gain from. Daniel merited a miracle by keeping kosher. Esther did too. This is the reason behind our custom of eating poppy hamantaschen. Isn’t it time that every Jew who eats a Hamantashchen look into keeping kosher too?


Anonymous said...

I use to go to theyeshivaworld.com every day. That is until they destroyed the reputation of a man whom I respect greatly...

For constructive purposes, here's a link:

Yeshiva World is like the Jews by the destruction of the second Beis HaMikdosh.

The Me'am Lo'ez says, "Outside people would appear to be good friends, but inside there was great hatred. Even though the people studied much Torah and did many deeds of kindness, this did not help them" (The Story of Tisha B'Av).

So too, Yeshiva World posts divrei torah in order that to fool people into think that they are a "frum" website. In reality, they upload articles which contain onas devarim, loshon hora, motzei sheim rah, rechilus or avak loshon hora etc.

Worst of all, they add fuel to the fire by allowing people to insert comments!

... After that incident, I went to worldtorahnews.com, which is the only KOSHER news website that exists today.

Again, the man whose running this Stop the Talking in Shul campaign has done nothing wrong. However, his ads should not be submitted unless he makes a website for his campaign like stopthetalking.com.

Even though we have The Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation today, people still transgress loshon hora right and left?

Rebbe might tell me that “… All people are suspect of loshon hora" (Bava Basra 165a).

Secondly, why do people, to this day, talk during tefillah and speak loshon hora?

The Gemara (Berachos 6b) says, “There are things that stand in heights of the universe, but which people treat lightly.” An example of this is tefillah which rises up to Heaven (Ibid., Rashi “דברים שעומדים ברומו של עולם”). A few pages later, the Gemara (Berachos 32b) says that tefillah is one of the four activities which require strengthening. Rashi (Ibid. “צריכין חזוק”) explains, “A person should strengthen himself in this constantly with all his energy.” As Dovid HaMelech (Tehillim 27:14) states, “Hope to Hashem, strengthen yourself and He will give you courage and hope to Hashem.” This means that one must constantly strengthen himself during prayer to insure proper concentration (ArtScroll Berachos 32b, note 19).

Is it just tefillah? What’s the Gemara really trying to tell us? Anything that’s a spiritual matter, people tend to throw to the side. For example hilchos tefillah, hilchos loshon hora, hilchos v’dabeir davar, hilchos sheimos and hilchos berachos etc

Therefore, it’s crucial that one familiarize himself with these halachos. As the Chidah says, “The only way a person will be saved from his yeitzer hara is through learning halacha” (Pesach Einayim, Eiruvin 64a and Chovas HaShemirah, chapter 3 “ודע עוד”)

No one is perfect and people make mistakes. As Koheles (7:20) says, “For there is no man so completely righteous on earth that he (always) does good and never sins.” However, to use the expression, “Ignorance is bliss” as an excuse is contrary to a Torah abiding Jew.

In the words of Rabbi Yitzchak Berkowitz:
“Ignorance is not bliss; knowledge is of the utmost importance.” (see The Six Constant Mitzvos by Rabbi Yehuda Heimowitz and Rabbi Shai Markowitz, page 220).

In Judaism, “Ignorance is not bliss; it’s a VIP ticket to eternal shame after departing from this world.”

Devorah said...

Thank you for those wise words. I generally do not read The Yeshiva World or any of the other ''frum'' news sites.... that poppy seed link was sent to me by a friend. I like to get my news from the blogs and random general news sites.

Anonymous said...


On the bottom of the article, it says "Source" and next to it you wrote "The Yeshiva World." You should of left "Source" blank.

Devorah said...

I could have done that but I don't do that as a general rule because it feels like it's stealing someone else's content.

Anonymous said...


I understand. Nevertheless, would one let a person walk across a field loaded with landmines? Would one leave a computer with internet access open to kids without filter?

What's more important:
Stealing or allowing people to access a website that will cause them to lose a share in World to Come?

We have a משגיח when it comes to kashurus. Yet, we have no rabbonim - or no one wants rabbonim -when it comes to having a website that's kosher according to halacha.

You should tell people to boycott yeshiva world. If they lose enough viewers that they would be out of business, they would hopefully change their ways.

The person who is in charge of maintaining the website - which includes allowing people to comment - and the one who uploads the aticles, have no share in the World to Come.

Yeshiva world works for the Satan!

Devorah said...

A good compromise, I stated the source but there is no longer a direct link to it.

Anonymous said...


You have to think a few steps ahead like people playing chess.

Even if you take off the link, once people see The Yeshiva World, they might do two things:

1) Check out the news on their website.

2) They will go to that website. Then, copy and paste the title into the search bar on the website.

Think I'm exaggerating? There are people that do that.

Do really want others to weave their own web of spiritual destruction for themselves?

You put the author's name under the title. You gave him the credit he deserves and that's NOT stealing.

YOU'RE ACTION can quicken Moshiach's revelation!

Devorah said...

After all this discussion I have no doubt they will go there anyway, but at least they've been warned beforehand. The choice is theirs. I have removed the source details now.

David said...

Could we have more info on the miracle of Daniel which this dvar Torah relates to?

Anonymous said...

Also, the above Anon did not state what the 'loshon hara' story in YWN was about.
Haven't gone there in a long time and am wondering why this anger towards them now. Find this is the reason the internet is so bad, anyone can write anything even on frum blogs and 99& is all opinions of these people. It was always bad enough when people would find things to talk about of other people and cause even slander, but now it has spiraled into a magnitude not known before the internet. The 'golus' has done a great job on our people from the four corners of the earth and all are influenced one way or another by the outside world. May we merit the coming of Moshiach and be again with one heart and one mind, as we were at Sinai.

Neshama said...

Chin up Devora! Keep moving forward.

Devorah said...

My chin is well and truly up..... writing a new blog post with a very exciting new development iy''H.

DS said...


I have to say that your blog is getting better and better! Your articles are interesting, to the point, well diversified, full of meaning: Kol Hakavod! Keep up the good work, and don't worry so much about what people say, you can't make everybody happy. Just make Hashem happy with you, that is what counts.

Happy Purim.

Devorah said...

Thanks DS. I don't worry so much about what people say, but I do like constructive criticism.