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Jewish Recipes --> Jewish and Israeli Foods --> What is Challah?

“Man does not live on bread alone, but by the utterance of G-d’s mouth does man live.”
Devarim 8:3

The Maggid of Mezeritch explains: Everything in creation is an “utterance of G-d’s mouth.” In the beginning, G-d said, "let there be light," and there was light. Everything under the sun holds a spark of G-dliness because it came into being as a result of the word of G-d.

When we feel hungry for a slice of bread, this is really our soul’s desire for its spiritual essence. Food feeds body and soul. When we take challah we are saying: basic bread helps me have the strength to serve my Creator; by using the energy to do mitzvos, I am spiritually nourished. Food is not about simply keeping me alive. It is about helping me live for the purpose for which I was created.

Challah or hallah is a traditional Jewish bread eaten on Shabbat and Jewish holidays (except Passover, when leavened bread is not allowed). This association with Judaism is most prevalent in the United States, as challah is also a traditional bread in numerous European countries, such as Hungary, among local non-Jewish peasant populations.

Also see:  Challah Recipes - Challah and Bread Baking - How to braid Challah

On Shabbat every Jew is commanded to eat three meals (one on Friday night and two on Saturday). In Judaism, a "meal" includes bread. Hence, Jews will traditionally eat challah at the beginning of their Shabbat meal. As with any other type of bread, the blessing "Baruch atah Adonai, eloheinu melech ha'olam, hamotzi lechem min ha'aretz" is recited before the challah is eaten. Translated, it means "Blessed are you, Lord, our God, king of the universe, who brings forth bread from the earth."

The dough is made with an especially large number of eggs, and sweetened with honey. The dough is traditionally cut into three rope-shaped pieces and then braided together before baking. An egg wash is applied to the dough to give a golden color after being baked. Poppy or sesame seeds are sprinkled on the bread before baking; the seeds represent manna that God gave to the Israelites to eat while they wandered in the desert.

On
Rosh HaShanah, the Jewish new year, raisins are added to the dough and the Challah is braided into a special crown shape, representing God's crown.

The name refers to a small piece of dough which is reserved and baked separately. This is done in commemoration of when the temple stood in Israel. Originally, during temple times, the dough was given to a Cohen (priest). Since the destruction, the dough is burned and thrown away after a special prayer is said.

 

 

 

   

Sept 2005 - 2013 - Kosher Recipes - Kosher Cooking - Jewish Cooking - Jewish Recipes - Jewish Foods- Jewish Foods
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article Challah.