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It's all about the Challah

Friday, 19 June, 2020 - 11:30 am

20200304_180125.jpgIn the months since Passover, we have managed to personally deliver hundreds of pre-Shabbat Packages filled with Challah, sometimes Chicken Soup and Desserts and packed with a dose of love, to families, friends, neighbors and others living in Sudbury and the surrounding area. By far the best feedback we get is for the Challah itself and everyone wants to know Shayna's recipe for this amazing Challah (which is available on request).

Yet besides the comments regarding the amazing taste of the Challah, we also get so many comments, like "it reminded me of my mother", "it took me back to my childhood", or people sending us heartfelt and often emotional beautiful letters and feedback. Obviously it is not simply the Challah and the visit that came with it that people are so grateful for, instead it is actually for something much deeper that is specifically represented by the staple bread of Challah which is so central in the Jewish home and tradition.

A Challah bread on a Friday evening, represents the comfort of a warm home, of a family Shabbat Dinner, of the warmth and love of our traditions, and of the strength and faith which have been so much a part of our long history. The Challah may just be a piece of dough, baked right and shaped with the right twist and coupled with an awesome aroma, but as we eat it, it takes us on a spiritual and mental journey as we think of the week that was, of the family around us, and of the many memories and moments associated with our Shabbat Table and traditions wherever they may have been.

Yet where did this traditional bread of Challah come from?

To get to the bottom of that you need only look in this week’s Torah portion where it describes in Chapter 15 the Mitzvah of Challah as it says “The first portion (Challah) of your dough, you shall separate a loaf for a gift;”. In this Mitzvah the Jewish people are told, that when they make bread, which is one of the most basic necessities that we consume, we are to take a portion of this Challah dough, and give it as a gift to G-d via the Cohen.

The amount given varied by the person, but the main thing was that the person gave some of their hard made dough to the Cohen who worked for G-d. Doing so was an acknowledgement that our sustenance does not stem only from our own hard work and toil, and instead we recognize the blessings and input of G-d into our life and its blessings.

Giving away this small gift of dough and the reminders it gives man, are not just a nice tradition, but in fact they get to the core of our focus and reminder of who we are and what we should be asking ourselves.

Are we a self-made person or society, or do we learn to recognize the gifts that we are endowed with and with which we have been blessed with as coming from G-d?

Are we going to allow our own ego and success to dictate our life’s choices or are we going to be forever mindful and aware that we are guardians of G-d’s world and our life and our choices need to reflect that?

Are we remembering to share some of what we have been blessed with, with others in our lives?

And along the way, it reminds us of so much more.

Thus the Challah which is eaten on Shabbat and reminds us of the Manna, is the quintessential reminder that we should be grateful for life’s blessings and recognize our responsibility to G-d and the world in which we live.

I think the love that people have for Challah is not simply because it tastes good or is a comfort food, rather it is because it’s message and meaning touch our core and reminds us of these core principles that have guided us for so many generations.

Shabbat Shalom & Good Shabbos

Enjoy the Challah!

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