Once upon a time, there was a little boy who loved hamantaschen. He loved hamentaschen so much that he would eat any kind. (A hamantasch, as you probably know, is a special kind of a filled cookie baked for Purim and shaped like a triangle to commemorate Haman’s three-cornered hat. Haman, of course, was the villain of the story, who tried to destroy the Jews and, thanks to the efforts of Esther and Mordechai, failed. By the way, when you hear Haman’s name, you’re supposed to stamp your feet, twirl your groggers and make a lot of noise to drown out the sound of his name. Back to our story.)
This little boy would eat cherry hamantaschen, he would eat apple. He would eat strawberry, he would eat peach, he would eat gooseberry hamantaschen and chocolate hamantaschen, he would eat mun hamantaschen made with honey and poppy seeds, and yes, he would even eat the dreaded prune hamantaschen. His name was, appropriately enough, Mordechai.
More than anything in the world, Mordechai looked forward to the holiday of Purim. He loved dressing in costume. He loved hearing the story of Esther at the reading of the megillah. But most of all, he loved the Purim carnival.
You see, at Mordechai’s shul, during the Purim carnival there was also a hamantaschen contest. All the best bakers in the congregation baked their favorite hamantaschen and brought dozens of them in for judging. Mordechai was too young to be a judge, but he always managed to get a bite or two or 20 or 50.
It was the morning of the Purim carnival, and Mordechai was so excited that he couldn’t eat a thing for breakfast. He put on his costume (he always dressed as Mordechai, of course), and went to the carnival in the social hall. He played the spinning wheel and balloon pop, bowling for kewpies and every other game.
Then it was time for the Purim shpiel, the annual play. The curtains opened, and everyone began to laugh and clap and spin a grogger. Mordechai, however, was hungry. He was famished. He was starving. Nobody was looking, so… he sneaked into the kitchen to see if he might find a broken hamantaschen, or one that wasn’t perfectly triangular, to nosh.
He could hardly believe his eyes.
There in the kitchen, spread out over all the counters, were hamantaschen of all sizes and flavors. There were big ones, there were small ones, there were medium-sized ones, there were jumbo ones. There were poppy and cherry and apple and chocolate… and, of course, prune.
And Mordechai, he couldn’t help himself.
He started to eat.
He started at one end of the kitchen, and, bite by bite, cookie by cookie, tray by tray, he worked his way to the other end. He ate and he ate and he ate and he ate. He went to the fridge, drank some milk, and then he ate some more. He ate and he ate and he ate and he ate, until he had eaten up every single hamantasch!
Every single one. Not a half, not a corner, not a crumb was left.
Now, Mordechai was not a big boy, so you can imagine that his stomach was huge. It was gigantic. It was big.
Right about that time, the Purim shpiel ended. The judges came into the kitchen to start the contest. And what should they find? Empty trays. No hamantaschen. And a boy with a belly the size of a boulder, chocolate and prune on his fingers, and a grin of embarrassment on his lips.
“Did you do this?” they asked.
Mordechai nodded. “I was hungry.”
Well, that was it. Everyone started talking at once. The contest, obviously, was ruined. But what should they do with Mordechai? They banished him from the Purim carnival. Not just this year but the next year, too.
Mordechai waddled home. His belly was full, but his heart was heavy.
A year passed, and once again it was time for the Purim carnival.
This year, they weren’t taking any chances. They posted guards outside the social hall, with strict orders that nobody named Mordechai should come in. This, of course, made it very awkward for other children dressed as Mordechai, and there were many tears as parents produced identification proving that their children had other names.
Everyone was inside, enjoying the games and the music, when who should come along but a hippie.
Now, this hippie was a short fellow with long, long hair, a straggly beard and love beads. He came up to the door and spoke to the guards, “Hey, man….” The guards heard the name Haman, and began spinning their groggers and stomping their feet.
“Hey, man…,” the hippie said.
The guards grinned, spun their groggers and stomped their feet. The hippie shook his head and went inside.
He found the rabbi and said, “Hey, man….”
The rabbi spun his grogger and stamped his feet.
The hippie went up to the caterer and the cantor, to the social director and the janitor. “Hey, man.” They all twirled their groggers and stamped their feet.
Finally, the hippie went up to a little girl.
“Hey, man,” he said.
“What?” the little girl said.
The hippie was startled. “Hey, man.”
“What?” the girl said. “What?”
“Hey, man, I just saw a guy named Mordechai running down the street with all the hamantaschen.”
“Oh, my goodness!” the little girl shrieked.
Music came to a stop. The room fell silent.
“What?” the rabbi said. “What what what what?” said the caterer, the cantor, the social director and the janitor.
“This hippie,” the little girl said, “just saw Mordechai running down the street with all the hamantaschen!”
Pandemonium. Everyone rushed for the exit. The social hall emptied in a matter of moments as the entire congregation ran down the street in a panic.
The only person left, standing among the deserted games and popped balloons, was the hippie.
The hippie smiled, nodded his head and went into the kitchen.
He took off his long-hair wig and his straggly false beard.
It was Mordechai!
He started to eat the hamantaschen. He ate and ate. Bite by bite, tray by tray, he ate every single hamantaschen for the second year in a row.
And they were sooooo good.
Mark Binder is an author and storyteller. He lives in Providence, R.I. His book, “The Brothers Schlemiel,” will be released in 2008 by the Jewish Publication Society. An abridged audio version is available online through iTunes and at cdbaby.com.