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Mimouna

 

By: Rabbi Ari Enkin

Mimouna is the post-Pesach celebration of friendship, brotherhood, and unity that is observed in Moroccan Jewish communities. It is a twenty-four hour celebration which begins immediately with the conclusion of Pesach. It is viewed by many as the formal return to chametz after such foods were forbidden over the course of Pesach. The theme of Mimouna is luck, fertility, wealth, and prosperity. To this effect, gold and jewelry often decorates the Mimouna table, and sometimes even the food, as well. The number five is also a theme of the holiday.  

While the primary traditional food of Mimouna is certainly the moufletta, a type of pancake closely resembling the mallawach, there are others as well. Fruits, especially oranges, apples, almonds, and nuts are eaten. Zaben, white almost nougat, marozia, fried raisons with nuts, and mazun, fruit jam also feature prominently. Plates of flour decorate the Mimouna table which is often topped with gold coins, oil, or beans. Live fish are also often found at Mimouna celebrations due to their association with protection and fertility.

There are a number of theories as to the origins of the name “Mimouna” with an emphasis on a continuation of the Pesach themes. First, there are those who suggest that the Mimouna celebrations commemorate and are named in honor of the Rambam’s father, Rabbi Maimon ben Yosef, who is believed to have been born and/or died on this day. Maimon was an important figure in Moroccan Jewish life, having written and worked extensively on Muslim-Jewish relations. Indeed, largely due to his influence, Muslims often joined the Mimouna celebrations of their Jewish neighbors, even supplying the flour used to make the mouflettot, as many Jews did not keep flour in their homes over Pesach and therefore had none in their possession at the conclusion of the holiday.

Others say that the name Mimouna derives from the Arabic word for “wealth” and “good luck” or from the Hebrew word “emuna” or “ma’amin” both of which mean “faith” or “belief”, which reflect Mimouna as a celebration of faith and trust in God. This is closely related to Passover in general, and the crossing of the Red-Sea in particular, which took place on the last (7th) day of Pesach. It was at the crossing of the Red-Sea that the entire nation witnessed the power of God which was an experience that strengthened their emuna

The Midrash also teaches that following the drowning of the Egyptian pursuers, their gold and jewelry washed up to the shore and was made available for the taking, thereby enriching the Jews, hence the theme of wealth. So too, just as the Exodus from Egypt was the fulfillment of a promised redemption, Mimouna also symbolizes the hope for the future redemption with the coming of Mashiach a cornerstone of our “emuna“. The word Mimouna may also be related to the “manna” which was the food which God provided the Jewish people following the Exodus from Egypt and the subsequent wandering in the desert.

In the Morocco of yesteryear, Mimouna had a prominent place in the synagogue, which is no longer the case in most communities today. On the afternoon of the last day of Pesach, the congregation would take to the fields to recite the Birkat Ilanot. Following their return to the synagogue and the conclusion of Pesach, a number of readings were conducted from the Scriptures, especially from the book of Proverbs as well as the Mishna, which formally inaugurated the Mimouna celebrations. In Israel, Mimouna is a national holiday observed with barbeques in the parks and family visits. It is interesting to note that Mimouna is a relatively new holiday having only emerged in the middle of the 18th century.

This certified Ashkenazi writer who never before researched Mimouna welcomes comments, feedback (inaccuracies?), and other customs relating to Mimouna.

 

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About the author

Ari Enkin

Rabbi Ari N. Enkin is a researcher and writer of contemporary halachic issues. He is the author of “The Dalet Amot Halacha Series” (6 Vol.) among other works of halacha. rabbiari@hotmail.com

 
The opinions and facts here are presented solely by the author. Torah Musings assumes no responsibility for them. Please address religious questions to your rabbi.
 

16 Responses

  1. aiwac says:

    There’s a whole book on the subject in Hebrew:

    http://www.text.org.il/index.php?book=0910042

  2. Ari Enkin says:

    Cool! Thanks!

    Ari Enkin

  3. Moshe Shoshan says:

    did you go last night in the ampi?

  4. Ari Enkin says:

    I didnt know there was anything in the ampi. I was at the Shriki’s on Nachal Maor till about 12:00am

    Ari Enkin

  5. HaDarda"i says:

    For us Yekkes, the night after Pesach is called Rumpelnacht. We rumpel the night away, clearing up the Pesach things and restoring the kitchen to its chametz state. Rumpeling is a military operation in our household. Hiddur mitzvas rumpel involves putting out the chametz breakfast things for the next morning.

  6. MiMedinat HaYam says:

    1991 went to netivot for mimouna. much ado about nothing. figured that was the place to be (i guess next year i’ll go to shriki’s /ampi, whatever they are.) couldnt even change $usd, but luckily had barely enough nis to get to ra’anana, where i changed by my cousins.

    right now — waiting to pack my stuff to go home from my nj hotel room. no rumplewhatever.

  7. pc says:

    rümpelnacht (with an umlaut)

  8. Lawrence Kaplan says:

    Rabbi Enkin: there was an article on the origins of Maimuna in Tarbiz 1970. NONE of your suggested meanings is the original meaning, but all are after-the-fact derush. I don’t have the article at hand and don’t remember all the details, but basically Maimun is the name of a destructive angel and it is a matter of mazalot.

    I must say that I, and I imagine others, are growing increasingly frustrated. It’s one thing for you to write about halakhah and minhagim. But when you deal with historical issues like the origins of Maimuna or the development of the Haggadah, on both of which there is an extensive scholarly literature, and you do not do the slightest scholarly research and you consequently recycle out of date and inaccurate theories (which may be fine as derush) something is very wrong.

  9. Ari Enkin says:

    Dear R’ Lawrence-

    For the first time ever, I must say that I think your criticism is unfair. I am well aware of my limitations and know that Mimouna is certainly not one of my areas of expertise. In fact – I NOTED THIS AT THE BOTTOM OF THE POST.

    90% of my postings are researched halacha, 10% are what I call ‘dabbling’ or ‘factoid’ posts such as this one. To suggest that I should not do such posts just because they are not my area of expertise or not researched enough, is rediculous.

    I have always accepted constructive critisism, but to say that there is something “very wrong” with these posts, is simply saddening.

    Yours very truly,

    Ari Enkin

  10. Lawrence Kaplan says:

    Rabbi Enkin: I am sorry you were hurt by my criticism, but I do not believe it to have been unfair. I did not say you should not do these more historical posts. I did say that if you did them you should do some basic scholarly research.

    Let me express my appreciation for your more straightforward halakhic posts.

  11. Shimon S says:

    With the upcoming royal wedding, it would be great to see a post about the issues with watching church ceremonies.

    http://torahmusings.com/2005/04/papal-funeral/

  12. Ari Enkin says:

    R’ Lawrence-

    Thanks for that.

    Ari Enkin

  13. Yitzi7 says:

    Is there any mention of Maimuna in any Halachic works?

  14. Ari Enkin says:

    …not that I know of. It really is a new thing. Barely 300 years old and limited to Moroccan Jewry.

    Ari Enkin

  15. MiMedinat HaYam says:

    “Barely 300 years old and limited to Moroccan Jewry.

    Ari Enkin”

    sounds like hakafot on simchat torah. much written about.

  16. […] Re-posted from last year: http://torahmusings.com/2011/04/mimouna/ […]

 
 

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