Challah is special bread for Shabbat.  In the poor homes of Eastern Europe, the daily fare was rough black bread. But on Shabbos the bread was a special loaf of white flour and eggs, decorated with poppy or sesame seeds. In some homes the challah is torn apart (to avoid using a knife which can be a weapon) and pieces are handed or tossed around to each guest. For others, the challah is sliced and passed on a special Shabbat platter. Before blessing and eating the challah, it is traditional to wash your hands, but not for cleanliness. This washing reminds us that eating has spiritual potential. In this time of fast food, it slows us down and reminds us of how fortunate we are to have food. The table we sit at is the modern equivalent of the “Holy of Holies,” the altar of the ancient Temple.

Here are the words of the blessing for the challah:

בָּרוּך אַתָּה אַדָנָי אֱלהֵינוּ מֶלֶך הָעוֹלָםהָמוֹציאלֶחם מןהַארץ


Blessed are You, Lord our God, Ruler of the universe, Who brings forth bread from the earth [A traditional translation.]

Our praise to You, Adonai our God, Sovereign of the universe, who brings forth bread from the earth. [From Mishkan T’filah, a Reform prayerbook.]

The blessing for challah is a blessing for all the foodbrought to the table and a reminder to make thetime spent eating the beginning of the restful, joyful Shabbat. It is a time to avoid scolding or correcting manners and a time to avoid gossip and problem solving.

God rested on the seventh day and took the time to admire all that was created. Make it your goal to do the same. Take the time to look back at your weekand enjoy the family and friends who join with you to celebrate Shabbat.

Type of Custom: Kiddush, Motzi & Handwashing


Source: Shabbat Made Easy