Throughout the year, different communities put on a “challah bake.” Hundreds of women come together to learn about this ancient Jewish ritual, connecting with our past and connecting with each other. This Thursday, Sinai Temple’s Sisterhood hosted our own evening of learning, baking, bonding, transforming, and growing.
Because there is something special about making challah. We reenact the mitzvah of separating a piece of the dough that was traditionally reserved to sustain and feed the priests. Which means that every week, we transform our homes into places of giving and places of blessing. Making challah is involving ourselves in a ritual that was meant to nourish someone else in need.
Now, as we knead and braid the dough, we become nourished. We are transformed into future vessels that actively look for those who are lost or wanting, choosing to reserve a piece of our souls to give back and contribute to the brokenness of the world.
Challah transforms. Rabbi Hayyim Moshe ibn Attar comments on the idea of segulah. A segulah is something that possesses special, supernatural qualities, something we might view as a treasure or gift. We are told that when 40 or more women come together to bake challah, there is a segulah, a special power that emanates from the gathering.
But I dare say the segulah exists even when one person chooses to make challah. When we engage in rituals that have giving embedded within its core, we harness a spiritual superpower. The power to look beyond our panes of glass and wooden doors to hear who is crying, to see who is shaken, to feel the pain of the broken hearted. Challah powers a heart of generosity.
What a special opportunity to bake challah together. What a beautiful tradition that continues throughout the generations. Week by week, from our kitchens, let us be a treasure to the world.
In partnership with The Jewish Journal, you can also find Rabbi Guzik’s blog post HERE.