Christ Our “Challah”
Sept 19th, 2004
Priscilla Van Sutphin
Again I was sitting at the computer, playing one cell and relaxing, and the Lord spoke to me “ Challah” I am familiar with the fact this is a Jewish bread used for celebrating holidays, and I have eaten it before. But I looked around on google and found some interesting things. The rest I’m posting at the bottom for those who are interested to read more.
One of the three commandments incumbent upon women, "taking challah," evolved sometime following the destruction of the Temple by the Romans in 70 C.E. Following the rising of the dough, women would separate a piece and burn it to remind them of the offerings to the Temple. For nearly two millennia challah has symbolically replaced the sacrificial offerings.
Wendy Hecht says in her article:
“D. Before separating the "Challah," the following blessing is recited:
Baruch atta Ado-noy Elo-hai-nu Melech ha'olam asher kid-e-sha-nu b'mitz-vo-tav v'tzi-vanu li-haf-rish Challah.
[Blessed are you, Lord our G-d, King of the universe, who has sanctified us with His commandments, and commanded us to separate Challah.]”
The thing is, the sacrifice has been made that is the sacrifice of all sacrifices. Jesus sanctified us with His blood shed on the cross for our sins, once and forevermore. So I was seeing that the destruction of the Temple was His way to assure removal of any further sacrifice no longer needed. At least in the natural…no one sacrifices animals anymore. But Rabbi’s have reinstituted Challah as a substitute.
Heb 10:12-14 NKJV But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God, 13 from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool. 14 For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.
Jesus became our “substitute” sacrifice on the Cross. So we no longer have to sacrifice. We don’t have to take the punishment either because HE took it.
Isaiah says in Isa 53: 5 NKJV But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed.
Look at this in the Amplified:
But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our guilt and iniquities; the chastisement [needful to obtain] peace and well-being for us was upon Him, and with the stripes [that wounded] Him we are healed and made whole.
True guilt was erased, inherited sins [iniquities] were erased. And chastisement, which is the punishment due,& needful to obtain peace of mind and well being, was upon HIM. We don’t have to go through hoops anymore to obtain forgiveness. We don’t have to SACRIFICE or WORK to obtain forgiveness.
So many of us are still striving to be perfect instead of relaxing in the knowledge that HE has paid the price completely. I think a lot of us who have been abused or neglected, still feel this need to compulsively please others because of our guilt. Also because of the performance based expectations in much of the church that is lacking in GRACE. We have not fully appropriated the fullness of the LOVE GOD had for us, by the sacrifice made on the Cross. It seems it is hard to believe that He would have died for ALL sins, for every sin we commit. How could HE be that generous, that endearing, that loving, that He would wipe away even those things we continue to do out of an unsanctified soul ? It is especially hard for the new believer so bruised and broken to fully understand the LOVE that was poured out for him.
Romans 5:18-21 says this:
*****18 Well then, as one man's trespass [one man's false step and falling away led] to condemnation for all men, so one Man's act of righteousness [leads] to acquittal and right standing with God and life for all men.
He’s speaking of ADAM…the one man’s offense led to condemnation for all men.
So ONE MAN’s sacrifice, has aquitted and made all men in right standing with God if it is appropriated ! HOW AWESOME IS THAT ? I saw this in a new way last night as I read it. ALL the sins, and all their consequences…like
all the curses for what was done, was reversed in that sacrifice Jesus made.
He is saying the results of the first sin were all washed away ! When we don’t
see the fullness of that, we believe that original curse is still active, or we don’t see that no matter what God will love us if we say YES to Him.
19 For just as by one man's disobedience (failing to hear, heedlessness, and carelessness) the many were constituted sinners, so by one Man's obedience the many will be constituted righteous (made acceptable to God, brought into right standing with Him). 20 But then Law came in, [only] to expand and increase the trespass [making it more apparent and exciting opposition]. But where sin increased and abounded, grace (God's unmerited favor) has surpassed it and increased the more and superabounded, 21 So that, [just] as sin has reigned in death, [so] grace (His unearned and undeserved favor) might reign also through righteousness (right standing with God) which issues in eternal life through Jesus Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed one) our Lord.
The law only POINTS OUT how far short we fall. But GOD’s GRACE is so much greater in what He did to restore relationship, that there is NOTHING that can separate those who believe, from HIS LOVE. He does NOT get tired of loving us even when we fail again and again. He does NOT get tired of forgiving us. He only always has our best interest in mind. He sees the reasons for the sins still being there. He sees the bruises on our soul that still need to be healed. He sees the abuse and neglect that was done that left an imprint on our soul, and demons still harassing us. He is SO COMPASSIONATE ! He is ever forgiving and wise. He knows just how to get to that hidden place in your heart where you have covered over emotions that you didn’t want to look at again. He will take you deeper and deeper, individually in a manner that HE knows is best to heal the woundedness as there are many levels of forgiveness. And His GRACE never runs out. Only man’s grace runs out. We get tired of people continuing in sin, but for Him, it hurts Him. He is saddened by our misunderstanding the greatness of His grace. He knows whose hearts are right. We think we know, but we don’t !
He is our “CHALLAH” He is our sacrificial BREAD OF LIFE. He has infinite wisdom for excavating the crevices of hearts that He knows fully. He knows how much each of us can stand to bear. And He is WITH US, Emmanuel, to help us get through every step of the way, in this ultimate lesson of life to learn to LOVE.
He has been doing things to go deeper, to get to the absolute bottom of our pain, and to instill MORE TRUST, that no matter what we know we can trust Him. He WILL be with us through everything. GRACE by definition is UNMERITED favor. It’s HIS LOVE that leads to repentance. LOVE is the greatest weapon. We tend to run out of it. But His heart is greater than ours, and never runs out. His love never fails. We are all on this continuum of healing and sanctification, little by little, week by week, month by month, year by year of growing in HIM…going from glory to glory and grace to grace. And those who have gone astray are never beyond His GREAT GRACE to be restored ! It is ONLY when we know the depth of His LOVE that we can be fully restored and empowered and filled the FULLNESS of His glory.
Eph 3:16-19 AMP
16 May He grant you out of the rich treasury of His glory to be strengthened and reinforced with mighty power in the inner man by the [Holy] Spirit [Himself indwelling your innermost being and personality].
17 May Christ through your faith [actually] dwell (settle down, abide, make His permanent home) in your hearts! May you be rooted deep in love and founded securely on love,
18 That you may have the power and be strong to apprehend and grasp with all the saints [God's devoted people, the experience of that love] what is the breadth and length and height and depth [of it];
19 [That you may really come] to know [practically, through experience for yourselves] the love of Christ, which far surpasses mere knowledge [without experience]; that you may be filled [through all your being] unto all the fullness of God [may have the richest measure of the divine Presence, and become a body wholly filled and flooded with God Himself]!
Many of us have not been rooted firmly in LOVE because we have not received it, except from Him, as we worship and pray and read the Word, etc. Many have not received it from other Christians or from others of our family or however. That Love given by other human beings is the main mode God uses to help us overcome obstacles which is why HE made us interdependent as the body of Christ, just as a human body is a system dependent on all it’s systems to function normally. So we need each other to grow in love. If we have never seen an example of true love, how do we learn ? One we learn from being dependent on Him, and that is the first and greatest. But we must have a fulfilling of the second commandment HE gave . That was to love your neighbor as yourself ! That means we need other HUMANS to love and to love us in order to be whole. Despite our protective mechanisms to keep from the hurts we have received from humans, through isolation and rejection, we truly need other loving human beings. From the moment God made Eve for Adam to make them more complete we have needed each other. Some of us get so hurt that we begin to think, will there ever be anyone who tries to understand me ?
Will there be anyone who ever just accepts me or encourages me ?
That is NOT a bizarre expectation. Jesus said, to love one another as I have loved you. SURELY He meant it ! Three times Jesus asked Peter, Peter, do you love Me ? – First using the friendship kind of love verb. Then in the last time he used the agape – the highest form of love. That kind of love is the kind Jesus set an example for in laying down His own life. Then HE tells Peter, then FEED MY SHEEP. CARE for my sheep. LOVE my sheep He was saying. Will you lay down your life for each other ? Will you truly love ?
For some, God has given them family to love, or friends, if we will just at least love on other human being, outside our sphere of family, it could make a huge difference. I remember a story someone once told of a woman who spent herself on some foreign students…year after year. But like the money that multiplied in the stewards hands, she gave and gave to them what she knew…and many of them went on then to steward and disciple many others, and in that way her gift of love was multiplied. That is the method Jesus used.
He started with the 12 and was intimately acquainted with them…and they in turn loved others and discipled others, and so on and so on. Each of us have different callings and different people to affect. Some are given one talent, or two talents, or five talents or ten talents. We just need to be faithful with what He shows us. And to be looking to HIM for the love so that we have it to give to each other. As we reach out to others, He reaches out to us.
Any traditional Jewish meal begins with the breaking of bread. Challah is a special kind of bread used for Shabbat and holidays. It is a very sweet, golden, eggy bread. The taste and texture is somewhat similar to egg twist rolls (those little yellow rolls that look like knots). The loaf is usually braided, but on certain holidays it may be made in other shapes. For example, on Rosh Hashanah, it is traditional to serve round challah (the circle symbolizing the cycle of life, the cycle of the years). A local deli makes French toast with challah. I highly recommend this. Challah is also wonderful in sandwiches with roast beef or corned beef. Traditionally, however, it is simply used as you might use rolls with a holiday dinner. The word "challah" refers to the portion of dough set aside for the kohein (See the List of Mitzvot, #394) ; that is, a portion that is taken out of the dough before it is baked. I am not certain how the term for the removed portion came to be used for the portion that is left over after it is removed.
There are two words for bread in Hebrew: lechem and challah. Lechem is the everyday bread and challah is the special, usually white egg bread reserved for the Sabbath. Challah is also the word that refers to the portion of dough set apart for the high priests in the Temple of Jerusalem.
One of the three commandments incumbent upon women, "taking challah," evolved sometime following the destruction of the Temple by the Romans in 70 C.E. Following the rising of the dough, women would separate a piece and burn it to remind them of the offerings to the Temple.
For nearly two millennia challah has symbolically replaced the sacrificial offerings. All challah that is baked today is kosher only if "challah has been taken." You'll often see that sign in a kosher bakery. Jews seem to be masters at imbuing ordinary acts with symbolism - or creating symbols out of almost anything.
Some words about Challah (or Hallah for some). Challah means dough and refers to bread made from dough that has undergone separation. There is a mitzvah (religious law) that requires the head of the dough to be separated and given to the priests as tithe. Since the destruction of the Temple, this mitzvah has been satisfied by separating a portion of the Challah (a piece about the size of an olive) and burning the separated piece in the oven. The preference is to separate the dough before baking but it may be done after. Burning the separated piece is a symbolic sacrifice. Only breads made from wheat, barley, maize, spelt,and oats require separation.
Challahs are normally eaten on the Sabbath (Shabbos). The five grains mentioned above were beyond the economic means of many of our ancestors, i.e., considered "rich man's food." To make us all rich on Shabbos, we eat Challah. Challahs are always served in pairs on Shabbos and Yom Tovs (Holidays). This is symbolic of the showbreads of the Temple and the double portions of manna received in the desert on Friday. None was received on Shabbos.
WHY ROUND CHALLAH ? by Aliza Bulow
All year long our challah is braided, but it is round for Rosh Hashana. What does the challah's shape teach us about this special time of year?
Rosh Hashana is a holiday filled with physical doorways into the spiritual world. The blasts of the shofar are the prime example of this (see: Symbolism of the Shofar). But there are many others as well All year round, we dip our challah in salt before distributing it; during the High Holiday season, many use honey so that we may have a sweet year. For the same reason, many make a sweeter challah dough as well.
We also begin the evening Rosh Hashana meals by dipping apples into honey and reciting a prayer for a good and sweet year. Some continue with a Rosh Hashana "seder," sampling many different foods and reciting a prayer that contains an allusion to the food's Hebrew name.
Every Jewish custom is significant on a very deep level. Some have levels that we can access; others are beyond our grasp. Even the shape of the loaf of challah can teach us something deep about the holiday on which it is consumed.
The Shabbat challah is braided. "Six days shall you work (engage in creative activity), and on the seventh shall you desist" (Exodus 34:21). Part of the preparation for the Shabbat is engaging in melacha, creative activity. Braiding is creative activity. The braid is a shape that does not appear in nature. (Ficus trees are hand-braided.) It is a shape that is made by humans and it is representative of the human ability to manipulate the raw material of the world. Braiding the challah strands helps us harness our creative capacities for the purpose of observing the Shabbat.
But braiding is more than that. The Talmud tells us that God Himself braided Eve's hair in preparation for her wedding to Adam (Brachot 61a). Was He merely beautifying her? Rabbi Avraham Chaim Feuer teaches that God's braiding of Eve's hair was His wedding gift to the couple. He was arranging her creative energies, channeling her imagination into an ordered form that would allow her to maximize her potential as a wife. He was both charging her and gifting her with the ability and the task of channeling the energy of the couple into positive and creative directions. The braid represents that directive, to focus and give order to the energies of one's household.
Significantly, many loaves are braided out of six strands. Six represents the days of the week that are not Shabbat. My mother-in-law taught me that braiding six strands into one loaf represents the six days of the week that are bound up in the one Shabbat. Six directed toward one, weekdays manifesting on Shabbat, this world bearing fruit for the next. The six-stranded braid offers us the direction of the channeling that we are enjoined to accomplish.
70 Faces of Torah
Round challahs are unique to the High Holiday season. Some say they represent a crown that reflects our coronating God as the King of the world.
Others suggest that the circular shape points to the cyclical nature of the year. The Hebrew word for year is "shana," which comes from the Hebrew word "repeat." Perhaps the circle illustrates how the years just go round and round. But Rosh Hashana challahs are not really circles; they are spirals...
There are 70 faces to the Torah, or in Hebrew, shiv'im panim la'Torah. This means that there are 70 ways to understand every facet of Torah. The word "panim" can be translated either as "face," or as "innerness." Thus the Torah presents 70 different "faces," appearing differently depending on the psychological, intellectual and spiritual angle from which it is examined. It also means that there are 70 different inner realities for every facet we can see.
King David lived for 70 years, and, in our tradition, that is considered to be the "average" lifespan. Each subsequent year of life makes a person into a different creation than the year before. So if one lives the average lifetime, another understanding of "70 faces to the Torah" could mean that we, through living 70 years, have our own 70 faces that we can turn to the Torah. That is why we often have "aha!" moments even as we study the same concepts we studied last year, or hear the same weekly Torah portion we have heard for years in a row. Turning a different one of our faces to the Torah means that our "receptor sites" are different, and we are able to tune into a new aspect each year.
The word "shana" has a double meaning as well. In addition to "repeat," it also means "change". As the year goes go round and round, repeating the same seasons and holidays as the year before, we are presented with a choice: Do we want this shana (year) to be a repetition, or do we want to make a change (shinui)? Hopefully, each year we make choices for change that are positive, and each year we will climb higher and higher, creating a spiritual spiral.
The shape of the Rosh Hashana challah reminds us that this is the time of year to make those decisions. This is the time to engage in the creative spiritual process that lifts us out of the repetitive cycle, and directs our energies toward a higher end. Have a sweet new year!
In some Jewish communities, holiday challah is also shaped like
ladders and hands: the ladder to help us reach great heights and the
hand as a symbol of the desire to be inscribed in the book of life for
the coming year. (Some also believe it is an amulet against the evil
eye.) Among Jews originating from Tripoli, it is customary,
particularly on the New Year, to make challah with caraway seeds, a
symbol of fertility. Among Moroccans, challah is made with raisins,
nuts and anise in the dough and served with a hard-boiled egg placed
on top. These are all symbols of sweetness and fertility. Many Central
European Jews also add raisins to their challah dough and serve it
with a little bowl of honey in the center.
What is Challah?
A.The pure, simple, unadorned word “Challah” means “a loaf of bread.” However, in Halachic terms, the word Challah has a very specific definition, and colloquially, it came to mean a certain type of bread thousands of years later.
B. The Halachic definition of Challah is a reference to Positive Mitzvah #133. It entails separating a section of dough from your kneadings and giving it to the Kohain. This piece of dough is called "Challah." Any dough which is made of wheat, barley, spelt, oat or rye is obligated in this Mitzvah. The Kohain and his family would eat the Challah while in a state of ritual purity. The Rabbis determined that the the home-baker give 1/24th of the dough to the Kohain, while the commercial baker has to donate 1/48th of his dough.
C. Biblically speaking, the Mitzvah of Challah is only observed in the land of Israel. Furthermore, according to most Halachic authorities, the Mitzvah of Challah was a requirement only in the times of the Temple. Today, no Temple, no Challah. But the Rabbis re-instituted the practice of Challah -- even outside the land of Israel -- to commemorate this special Mitzvah. However, since today we are all considered ritually impure, the Kohain cannot eat the Challah. Instead, Jewish women through the centuries knead homemade dough and then separate a piece of the dough and burn it. All kosher bakeries so the same -- they separate a piece of dough from each batch, and throw it on the floor of the oven. Today, only a small piece of dough is separated for Challah -- since the Challah isn't eaten, it would be wasteful to separate 1/24th or 1/48th of the dough.
D. Before separating the "Challah," the following blessing is recited:
Baruch atta Ado-noy Elo-hai-nu Melech ha'olam asher kid-e-sha-nu b'mitz-vo-tav v'tzi-vanu li-haf-rish Challah.
[Blessed are you, Lord our G-d, King of the universe, who has sanctified us with His commandments, and commanded us to separate Challah.]
E. Eventually, the soft, sweet bread loaves customarily eaten by the Shabbat meals became known as Challah .