Today's shpeez is about challahs and unity.
In light of the 2016 elections, and the division there seems to be between people of all walks of life, I think it's important that we do whatever we can for the sake of unity... Unity within our countries, unity within our communities, unity within our circle of friends....Unity within our challahs. Let me elaborate just a bit,...
For quite a few years, I would host women in my kitchen every Friday morning, and we would bake challahs together. I would make sure to have an entire batch of challah dough ready for each woman, so that each one of us can do the mitzvah of hafrashat challah and pray for our loved ones, while each having our own connection with G-d, our own unity with G-d for just a few moments.
Besides the obvious, of having women do this beautiful mitzvah in my home, my favorite part was teaching people how to braid the challah with six strands. All the ladies would cut off pieces of the dough and roll the six strands in preparation for braiding. As you can imagine, each woman would always try to make the most perfect strands.
This is where I would stop them and have a little chat about challah strands and unity. Here are my thoughts...When preparing your strands, let's consider each strand as a person. There are short people, tall people, slim people, thick people, all different shapes and forms of people. When braiding your challahs, using all the different lengths and shapes of your strands, think about the unity of these strands, and how each strand, whether it is long, short, fat or skinny, will be used in unity to make this beautiful creation known as a challah.
We can take example from these challah strands. Let's live in unity in this beautiful world G-d has created for us, and embrace our differences and imperfections.
I sign off with Devorah Heller's Challah recipe, and I wish you a good shabbos and a fabulous weekend!
Ingredients:5 pounds flour (2.5kg)
5 cups lukewarm water
3/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons dry yeast or 2 ounces fresh yeast
½ cup oil
2 tablespoons salt
In a mixer, or a large bowl, combine the sugar, water, and yeast. While these three ingredients sit together, sift the flour and transfer six cups of the flour on top of the first three ingredients.
Add the eggs, oil, and salt. Start the mixer on high speed, or mix by hand or with a wooden spoon. After a few minutes, you should have a sticky paste. Lower the speed and add the rest of the flour over a span of 6-8 minutes, or if doing by hand, gradually add the flour and keep kneading until it feels like a dough (Work those arms!)
Let the dough rest for 15 minutes.
Give the dough a final spin, or a final session of kneading for one more minute.
If using a mixer, transfer to a large bowl and cover with plastic (you can use a clean new garbage bag to ensure the dough stays moist).
After 45-60 minutes, uncover the dough, make the bracha, “Baruch a-tah A-do-nai E-lo-hay-nu Melech ha-olam, ah-sher kid-sha-nu be-mitz-vo-tav, v’tzi-va-nu l’haf-rish challah.” break off a piece of dough about the size of a golf ball, and hold the piece up, and say: “harei ze challah”
(this is when you must say the names of those you are praying for, including your own) and put it in an oven til it’s completely burned (burn the “taken” dough separately from the challahs you are baking. Do NOT bake in the oven with anything else at the same time), and braid the challah.
(Throw out the burnt piece of dough)
Allow the shaped challahs to rise another 10 minutes and then brush with beaten egg, and put whatever seeds you like, sesame, poppy,...
Bake for 45 minutes at 350 degrees until golden.