For years, a neighbors always sent us a plate of chickpeas for Purim . None of us understood the gift. Why chickpeas? I never bought chickpeas, not even in cans.
Weren’t the only people who ate chickpeas were Italians, vegetarians or people who were having Shalom Zachor–a Friday night party celebrating the birth of a son at which chickpeas are served.
I just didn’t get it. I assumed that my friends were crazy for chickpeas and they wanted to share their passion with us, until just recently. Call me a slow learner, but when I first learned that Esther ate a vegetarian diet at Ahashverosh’s palace I didn’t make the link to chickpeas, until now.
Recently, I figured out the reason for my friend’s gift. There is an ancient custom to eat them along with other legumes and seeds on Purim (called in Hebrew zaronim) to recall the fact that Esther ate them in Ahasherosh’s palace. The food wasn’t kosher, so what was there to eat–legumes, seeds and grains. All around, Esther didn’t have an easy life. Her marriage to Mordechai ended when she submitted herself to Ahashverosh to save the Jewish nation. And as to nachas from the kids –some scholars say that Darius, the Persian King who permitted the rebuilding of the Holy Temple was her son but Darius wasn’t a good Yiddishe boy.
Yet there is no record of Esther complaining. I suppose there were some perks to being a queen, nice clothes, a driver, a maid but being married to a drunken bum is a pretty heavy deal. And yet Esther accepted her situation and rose to the challenge and because of her the Jewish people still lives.
Consider that when you much your chickpeas
Chickpeas in a classical Jewish style aka Arbis or Nahit
Sort through the chickpeas to remove stones and dirt
Soak them for 10 hours in cold water
Drain the water and boil them for two hours.
Then add salt and pepper to taste and eat
You can also toss them into green salad or puree them into humous