THE MITZVAH OF MAKING CHALLAH
IN THE HOLY LAND
I had never made Challah before I made Aliyah. Prior to making Aliyah, I was busy managing a large number of accounts and could not find the time to perform this precious mitzvah. I knew however, that when I made Aliyah, I would choose to perform this much loved mitzvah because, through this act of taking the challah, the wife brings into the home powerful spiritual energies that have sustained us through the centuries of our existence.
In the sefer, “Meaning in Mitzvot” by Rabbi Asher Meir regarding the laws of challah, he states, “Our ability to sanctify the profane through our actions is fully realized only in The Holy Land. The land of Israel is not only the land of sanctity; much more it is the land of sanctification. This point is connected with the mitzvah of challah by the phenomenon of the manna. This miraculous food provided our sustenance during our 40 years of wandering in the desert. However, we learn in the book of Yehoshua (5:12) that once we began eating the natural bread of the Land of Israel, the miraculous bread of manna stopped falling. In Israel, the material is on a higher spiritual level and our ability and obligation to extract its holiness is greater. This finds expression in the special spiritual elevation carried out through the mitzvah of challah, whose primary obligation is in the Land of Israel.”
Having acquired this deeper understanding from learning more about this extraordinary mitzvah, given to women, I decided to take a class on challah baking and I learned an entire avodah which I am now sharing with you. May you be blessed that your soul should savor the physical and spiritual taste of this delicious mitzvah.
Challah Avoda (Service of HaShem)
The Purpose of Challah is to strengthen the connection between the body and the soul.
Making challah creates a spiritual food in partnership with G-d.
When Adam and Chava sinned and were sent out of The Garden Of Eden HaShem Himself taught them the entire process of making challah.
The mitzvah of challah atones for the sin of Chava.
Challah is the highest spiritual food. All The Blessings of the field are in it especially in Eretz HaKodesh.
All Jews especially Jewish women in the home want to reveal HaShem as the source of all Blessings and bring Blessings into their home.
Food represents bounty. Without food we cannot do the mitzvot. The mitzvot we do in our home with pure intent send Blessings out into the world.
Our hands are our connection! There is no greater utensil. So it is best to make the challah by hand.
We put the challah ingredients together like we put together the Jewish home.
The place where you make the challah should be clutter free. It should be like an altar and should be cleaned with a fresh cloth.
1) Give charity with a tefillah that our prayers be answered speedily and with Rachamim (mercy) and that the mitzvah be a tikkun for the sin of Chava
2) Light a candle in the merit of Sarah Imenu
3) Wash hands (netilat yedayim) without the brachah
4) Say Psalm 90. Put hands above head for the last verse
Put in the ingredients in the order you normally do and be mindful of the following significance of each ingredient. (In Israel the flour should be sifted unless it says it is pre-sifted). Focus on the meaning!
Sifter…represents the spiritual value of separating out those values or character traits we do not want or need. We strive to bring into our house only those things that bring value to our home/life.
Oil… represents specialness. It does not intermingle. It stays separate and rises to the top. It also represents purity and wealth.
Sugar… represents sweetness.
Yeast… represents going higher and expanding. It also represents ego…we must empty out our ego to expand and go higher in our relationship w/HaShem.
Eggs…represent birth and also bonding (unity)
Throughout the process keep saying “l’kavod Shabbat Kodesh”.
If you are making challah by hand, feel each ingredient and delight in the wonder of each ingredient and its deeper meaning. Say a prayer asking HaShem to connect you to this deeper meaning.
When you add the oil, use your hand (that powerful instrument) and say the name of each person you are praying for because oil is specialness. Distributing the oil is building Kedusha (holiness) and kneading is bringing Brachot (Blessings) into your home. Pray for each person that HaShem should give them exactly what they need. Use their Hebrew name if possible. Concentrate and feel the dough. Be with HaShem in it.
You can sit and knead and say your prayers for all your heart desires. Pray that all of Am Yisroel may be able to connect to HaKadosh Baruch Hu.
This process takes about 1 hour to 11/2 hours. It is a beautiful Avodat HaShem well worth the time. If you use a kneading machine, you can still do much of the process. Saying prayers out loud is very powerful because the mouth is closest to the ear and causes our heart to respond to what we are saying and hearing!
So once again we learn that living in Eretz HaKodesh brings with it the true wealth we are searching for…….spiritual wealth in all our endeavors. So enjoy the mitzvah and may your challah be as tasty as the sweet reality of living in the Holy Land.
Ariella Bracha Waldinger