Challah Making | Baking for the Soul
Chevre, After this week’s Yom Revi’i Recipe installment you all are ready to make and bake some fantastic challah for Shabbat. We look forward to seeing what you’ve made, so please share and send Livnot any photos of your challah!
And now that you have some food for your table, how about some food for thought—some baking for the soul:
According to Jewish tradition, we have loaves of bread at each Shabbat meal. But it’s not just eating the challah on Shabbat that’s special, it’s also making the challah that has meaning. In recent years, Jews around the world have been reviving a tradition of deep spirituality connected to challah baking. Some say it’s the highest part of their week. Some light a candle before making the dough in memory of a great person or anyone whose energy they want to bring into the experience.
There are blessings that can be made the entire way through the mixing of the dough. Each ingredient has special meaning.
Meaning: The main ingredient of bread is ground flour. The flour symbolizes the opportunities given to us by God to be a part of creation. How? God created the world—full of goodness. What is the task of man? To plant, to pray, to reap, to winnow, to grind, to sift, knead and bake. Just as God gave us the wheat and we are responsible to develop it and improve it, so did God give us life and it is in our hands to improve and sanctify our lives.
Meditation: May it be Your will, Creator of the universe, that You give us the knowledge and wisdom to choose the good and to choose life.
Meaning: Sugar is sweet. On Rosh Hashanah we use the sweetness of honey so that we should have a sweet year. We ask God to sweeten any judgments against us. Sugar symbolizes kindness, softness, and sweetness.
Meditation: Please Creator of the universe, deal with us with loving kindness and compassion. May it be Your will that we also cleave to the trait of loving kindness to ourselves and to others.
Meaning: Salt symbolizes the ideal in character traits. Salt needs to be the exact amount to be effective and to give taste—not too much and not too little. Every trait and quality needs to be in the right amount, the golden mean.
Meditation: Please Creator of the universe, help me find the middle way in every trait of my behaviour. May I not be pulled in the wrong direction or overstep boundaries.
Meaning: As much as the rising of yeast causes the small amount of dough to rise and become bigger, so too does the man who is happy feels full and complete and feels he is not missing anything. “Who is rich—he who is happy with his lot.”
Meditation: May we always merit to be happy.
Meaning: Oil symbolizes light, wisdom, abundant blessings, holiness, and kingship.
Meditation: May the Creator of the universe influence us by Your blessings and may we merit to have a great king over the people of Israel as the days of old.
Meaning: What combines with water? Pretty much everything. “There is no water but Torah.” Because the wisdom of Torah combines with everything. Torah allows all the ingredients to be expressed and to add its own special quality.
Meditation: May we be connected to the happiness and kindness of Jewish wisdom all our lives.