Purim Pranks

In the course of Jewish history, various kinds of Purim pranks were developed, but three were the most important. The first prank was the burning of Haman in effigy. This practice began in Babylonia and Persia during the Talmudic period.

The second prank was that of “beating” Haman in the synagogue. As the book of Esther was read, whenever the reader came to the name of Haman, there would be a “beating ceremony.” There have been many different practices throughout Jewish history. Sometimes Haman’s name was written on two small stones and these were beaten together until his name was destroyed. Sometimes Haman’s name was written on the sole of the shoes, and when his name was read, everyone would stomp their feet on the floor as a symbol of “beating” him. These two symbols of “beatings” are not practiced today as much as a third one is. Today, a noisemaker known as a “grogger” is used. Whenever Haman’s name comes up during the reading, along with the “grogger,” people stomp their feet and boo. Haman’s name is mentioned fifty-four times, so this response is repeated many times. The same response is heard with the naming of Haman’s ten sons for a total of sixty-four times.

The third prank is masquerading and wearing masks. It is customary on this date to masquerade. It is almost a form of Jewish Halloween in Isra'el. These masks depict the various characters in Esther.132

 

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