Are you ready to “diss” Haman? Get your gragger at Simcha!

Groggers for PurimThe Simcha Gift Shop at Congregation Emanu-El has graggers along with many other Judaica items. The gift shop is located at Congregation Emanu-El at the southern end of the Social Hall.

Gragger, sometimes pronounced grogger, is a noise maker used on Purim when the usual decorum of the Synagogue is disrupted as adults join children to make noise whenever the name of the wicked Haman is mentioned during the reading of the megillah. We are taught that we use graggers during the megillah reading when we hear Haman‘s name, as a way of fullfilling the Biblical comandment to “blot out the remembrance of Amalek” (with the connection that Haman was a descendent of the Amalakites).

The word gragger comes from the Yiddish word for rattle or noise maker (which is thought to come from the Polish word grzégarz). Interestingly the modern English instrumental term for the graggers we commonly use today is “rachet” and the Hebrew term is “ra’ashan” (from the word ra’ash, which means noise).

But where did the tradition of using graggers (or noise makers) during Purim originate?

According to the Jewish Encyclopedia graggers originated in thirteenth century France and Germany, when the Rabbis interpreted the commandment about wiping out the memory of the Amalakites to mean, “even from wood and stones.” They therefore: introduced the custom of writing the name of Haman, the offspring of Amalek, on two smooth stones and of knocking or rubbing them constantly until the name was blotted out.

By repeatedly smashing the rocks together, children could solve two problems with two stones (so to speak): They could make a ruckus while fulfilling the Biblical injunction to “erase the memory of Amalek.”

Ultimately, however, the stones fell into disuse and the use of a “rattle” was appropriated from the Christian Burning of Judas ritual in which the children employed the crotalus (originally a Catholic liturgical noise making instrument).

To learn more…


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An inclusive, warm, and progressive Conservative synagogue in Victoria, B.C.

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