Challah Bake International

Daily Inspiration

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Finding The One

A word from the desk of Chana Perman, Toronto, Canada

He's a mover and shaker
At the top of his game 
Can you find out if she's ready 
but don't mention my name 

What's the matter with a yellow tee?
Yes, I realize it's not done in your family
She's sweet, refined
Though I don't know her at all
My sister-in-law worked with her 
So that's who you can call 

She happens to have a brilliant mind 
Yet actually doesn't want to marry Einstein 
I believe I've seen him wearing pink socks
Don't you appreciate out of the box?

He's too quiet 
She's too loud 
He stands out - in a good way -
From the regular crowd 

She plans to live near her parents
Nothing wrong with that
He wears a kasket - no Borsalino hat 
He said he enjoyed the second date
She thinks he's amazing and really great

He needs time to think 
She wasn't quite sure 
Tell me, tell me
Did you hear any more?

She says he's the one 
He is over the moon 
Stay tuned for good news
Happening soon!

Dear G-d you can hear 
Your children discussing
Potential matches 
With all that fussing 

May You grant us wisdom and clarity 
The ability to discern and properly see
May the journey be with joy
May the path be clear 
Free of sadness, worry, despair 

May the thorns be few 
May the roses be many 
We pray for simchas 
May there be plenty 

Let the heartfelt tefilos offered 
at hafrashas Challah
Lead to many chasanim and kallahs 
Mazal tov, mazal tov 
(I wish in advance)
Very soon to the chupah may you happily dance!

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A word from the desk of Nechama Caplan, Tzvas, Israel

We mix some flour and water, adding oil, eggs, yeast, honey and salt, let it rise and then recite a blessing, taking off a piece of dough, called challah. It's quite astounding that those seven simple ingredients mixed together and sprinkled with a blessing has the capacity to draw down the Infinite right into our dough-filled hand!
When we think about the nature of G-d and spirituality, we certainly don't connect that lofty concept to a lump of dough. Really, the very idea seems kind of mundane. Wouldn't it make more sense to meditate, disconnecting from our physical body in the quest to find spiritual completion? From our human perspective, perhaps. But the Torah, which serves as the Divine blueprint for Creation, approaches it very differently.
The most exalted light is to be found in the lowliest of place – when we reveal G-d there. And that's where the idea of a mitzvah comes into play. It represents the set of coordinates that G-d gave us to bring Heaven down to Earth. We don't need to go anywhere special – we aren’t obligated to float off into a meditative trance. We just follow the simple directions laid out for us in the Torah and hold the Infinite in our hands.  This is what makes Judaism so unique. It's not the yearning for spirituality that takes us out of the physical realm, it's through the physical realm that we reach this higher state of connection with G-d.
So even though we are each just one person, maybe even struggling with feelings of low self-worth, we are much more powerful than we can even imagine. The Talmud teaches, "the whole world was created for me". But it is not intended as a declaration of arrogance. Rather, it refers to plugging into our personal G-d-given power to reveal the Infinite within the finite.
The mitzvah of taking challah is an opportunity to pause and appreciate how much we really matter, how much our actions matter. We may not see
G-dliness manifest in our blessing over the challah, but it shines a powerful ray of light, penetrating and healing our world. 

Tanya: chapters 37 & 41

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A word from the desk of Rivka Goldstein, Florida, USA

It takes unwavering faith and a firm conviction that G-d is in control to overcome the shidduchim crisis.

After graduate school, I found myself in a foreign land for no particular reason, except a nudging feeling that I was intended to relocate there. Two years later, at age 31, I met my husband the week after he finalized his divorce.

Incredibly, I'd landed in this place the exact day that my husband began his divorce procedure. It became clear to me why I hung in there, despite the constant angst. Boruch Hashem we began our ba’al teshuva journey together.

A similar situation occurred with a man I coach, who had for years struggled with shidduchim. He’d always had a strange hunch that he was to become a father at the chuppah, as he did at age 39, when he married a widow with a child.

Some things in life defy logic, we need simply to trust and surrender to G-d. It may be that you’re ready and all you’re doing is waiting for your bashert to catch up!

Today, twenty years later, it’s easy to see hashgacha pratis in my life, but it was near impossible back then. It turns out, G-d has a plan and has been in charge all along. So too for us all – there is a Divine plan…and our task is to have faith and stay the course until those plans come to fruition.

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A word from the desk of Miriam Moskovitz, Kharkov, Ukraine

Friday, February 25th 2022, Kharkov Ukraine. Making challah in my kitchen on Chubara Street a day after war broke out seems surreal. The same recipe, the dough rising but the background sounds of bombs and artillery make the moment so much more poignant and the need to pray more urgent. It was to be an unforgettable Shabbat with our community and city under attack. The prayers in the synagogue as we blessed the upcoming month of Adar – a month of joy – the songs and dancing at the Shabbat meal… all just a few miles away from where tanks stood at the entrance to the city. Singing “Hinei Mah Tov Umanayim” (How pleasant to be together), we felt the power of our unity. My challot were finished quickly that week…but who knows when I would be baking them again in my kitchen on Chubara Street. The power of challah.

A week of intensive bombing and attacks had hit just a few doors from our home, our school and throughout our city. With no choice, we grabbed a few bags and suitcases and fled with our children and grandchildren in a van towards safety. As we left the city and saw the destruction and shelling, we started to say Tefilat Haderech the prayer for a safe journey and added in tears “Ve’tachazireinu Le’shalom” (May we return in peace). The power of prayer.

Friday evening, Chisinau Moldova Joined by over one hundred refugees, we light Shabbat candles and pray for all those in Kharkov and all those attempting to escape. After Kiddush my husband starts to dance “Vesomachto Bechagecha” (And you should rejoice in your festivals). A bewildered journalist goes over to him to ask: “What festival are you celebrating here? Escaping from a war-zone to the unknown…what's to celebrate?” My husband replied with the story of a Rebbe’s son who wanted a candy and recited a bracha so that his father had no choice but to give him the candy so that his blessing would not be in vain. So too, my husband explained, we are celebrating and dancing so that G-d has to give us something to celebrate! The power of joy

Summer Kharkov, 2022 Five months into the war, Masha gave birth to a baby boy in Kharkov and contacted my husband to make sure that he would have his brit mila on the 8th day no matter what. And the near impossible happened. A mohel flew from Israel and traveled 20 hours by van to Kharkov and little Moshe had his brit mila on time – despite the daily bombing and attacks on the city. Masha had continued the chain from Avraham Avinu, and a new boy had joined the Kharkov Jewish Community and Am Yisrael. The power of the Jewish Woman

We have so much to be grateful for and so much to pray for as we take challah this week. Let’s take a moment to add a prayer for all those who have lost so much in this war and that this Shabbat we should all experience the final Redemption in Yerushalayim with Moshiach now!

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A word from the desk of Mina Esther Gordon, Melbourne, Australia

Throughout many parts of the world, for thousands of years bread has been the “staff of life”, the foundation of each meal, filling and satisfying those who consumed it. The Torah, which instructs us how to bring heaven and earth together touches upon every aspect of life, including baking bread. We are commanded to set aside a small amount of dough for the Kohen, thereby acknowledging that although there are great differences between people (Kohen, Levi, Yisroel), all are equally obligated to serve Hashem with their unique abilities and circumstances. Contrary to the statement in the Declaration of Independence, all men are not created equal, although all are due equal rights. It is not a matter of snobbishness or favoritism, rather, a matter of diversity and uniqueness. Each person has a different task to fulfill, all for the same goal.

How then are separate individuals able to unite in doing their disparate tasks?

One gains insight into this challenge by returning to the process of making challah. Just as the separate bits of flour come together to make one unified dough when water is added, so too we individuals can bond together as one entity to serve Hashem when we add the Heavenly waters of Torah. Thus our sages declare that just as water sustains us physically, Torah sustains and nourishes us spiritually – allowing us to fulfil our destiny with a sense of purpose and unity.

Based on the Kehos Chumash Bamidbar p.94-96

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A word from the desk of Rivky Chaikin, Johannesburg, South Africa

A few months ago we had the great zechus (privilege) to experience a family reunion, with our children meeting together from all parts of the world to spend a very special Shabbos together in Upstate New York. As I opened my eyes that Shabbos morning, the chorus “Hapa’am odeh es Hashem” (this time I will praise G-d) popped into my head and repeated itself throughout the day.

Leah, the less favoured of Yaakov’s wives, exclaimed these words on naming her third son, Yehuda. Though having Yehuda still did not turn her into the favorite spouse, she nonetheless expresses her deep gratitude to the Aibershter for the brochos she was granted.

Gratitude is a difficult and unnatural attribute. We tend to minimize the good that others do for us. The smaller their kindness the less indebted we feel. It is also instinctive to concentrate on what we do not have, rather than acknowledge the many brochos we are granted.

Hakoras Hatov (gratitude) is one of our most necessary avodos(service) to survive this golus (exile). This is why we are called Yehudim. We do not all stem from Shevet Yehuda but we all need to work on the midah of “Odeh es Hashem” (praising G-d) Thus we begin every day with the words “Modeh Ani” (I give thanks) to remind us of this imperative.

As we daven and beg Hashem to provide good shiduchim for our children, we must never forget to also thank Him for the many brochos that have already been bestowed upon us. Recognition and appreciation for those brochos will serve as a catalyst for being gifted new ones, not least the zechus to walk our children to the Chupah.

Bereishis rabba 98,
Medrash tehillim kapital 23.
Other meforshim included

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A word from the desk of Sara Lowenthal, Toronto, Canada

My name has an unusual spelling on my birth certificate: S-O-R-A-H. My parents pronounce my name as Sara, as do my family and friends, and when I went to school, I wrote my name out as S-A-R-A on all my school work.

I ran into trouble as I got older and things became more official in my life. Marriage certificate, birth certificates of my children, undergraduate and graduate studies…I never imagined how the spelling of my name could turn into such a headache! My acceptance into my graduate studies program was delayed until I could prove to them my ‘real identity’. Names, I have learned, are a big deal. We need to be deliberate and careful when spelling our names, and pay attention to the spelling of others.

Geulah (redemption) is one such example. Geulah is almost the same name as Golah (exile), except that Geulah has an Aleph. This Aleph encapsulates the difference between exile and redemption, and even hints to how we can bring about Geulah. Aleph is the numerical value of Echad (one), and Alufo Shel Olam (Master of the world). Alef represents the task of bringing Hashem(G-d) down into our dark, physical world and revealing Hashem in the most unlikely of places.

I think about the Aleph in Geulah a lot. The Aleph is what changes Goleh to Geulah and that small Aleph reminds me that names are, indeed, significant. That small Aleph prompts me to be more aware of Hashem in my life, and encourages me to put Hashem at the centre of what I do. To me, the name Geulah is a nudge; a nudge to bring down an Aleph infusion. And this mindfulness of the G-dly context (that should inform all of our thoughts and actions) brings us closer to our Divine source and the ultimate redemption closer to our world.

Talk by the Lubavitcher Rebbe, December 13, 1984

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A word from the desk of Devorah Leah Weisz, London, UK

The source for the mitzvah of taking Challah is found in a curious place – Parshas Shelach. Following the episode with the Spies, who returned from scouting out Eretz Yisrael with a negative report, the parsha outlines the obligation for the Jews to donate a portion of their dough to G-d. What’s the connection?

The Spies struggled with a legitimate and lofty fear – that entering the Land would require a massive shift in their holy lifestyle. No longer would their physical needs be miraculously taken care of – Manna falling from heaven, water flowing from the Well of Miriam, Clouds of Glory washing their clothes. They would need to work the land, to plow, sow and reap, and their lives would be overtaken by the physical realities demanded there, with no time for Torah learning and spiritual service.

Although this approach may seem noble, they were admonished for their lack of faith in the mission of entering and settling the Land. For this is G-d’s deepest desire – He created a physical world precisely for the goal of elevating the material to reveal its G-dly essence. He concealed His light and charged us with the mission of transforming the world into a home for the Divine.

Challah’s message is to find G-d everywhere, even in the most basic of physical activities like baking bread. We have the responsibility and privilege of infusing our daily actions with meaning and G-dliness. Our work does not impede our spiritual service, it IS our service. We should not ‘stay in the desert,’ retreating from society and pursuing a transcendent life on a far-off mountaintop. G-d wants us HERE fulfilling our purpose. Thus, Challah is the antidote to the flawed understanding of the Spies. We bake and we find G-d in our dough; we live in this earthly existence and uplift our every-day experiences into a heavenly paradigm, as we knead our way through life.

Likutei Torah Parshas Shelach

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A word from the desk of Goldie Slavin, Caracas, Venezuela

Immediately following the miraculous parting of the Red Sea, when the Jews reached “Mara”, the Torah states: ”they could not drink the waters of Mara because they were bitter”. In the plain sense it means the waters were bitter, but homiletically it refers to the people. They were so embittered, that the water tasted bitter to them.
Much of what happens to us is shaped by how we perceive it. It’s not always about what’s on the table, but rather what we bring to the table.

Subsequently once Moshe threw the tree into the water, the waters became sweet.

Every moment of our lives, whether bitter or sweet, we have the tree of life to hold on to. The tree refers to the Torah, which gives us guidance, strength and purpose. Unlike other creations, the tree is always connected to its source, weathers all climates and continuously grows.

Let’s stay connected to our source, and we will feel the sweetness and purpose of life – with resilience, pride and faith. And with that bond, perhaps then we can face whatever challenge comes our way more sweetly!

Shmos: 15:23
Proverbs: 3:18
Living Each Week by Rabbi Twersky (quoting the Baal Shemtov)


Creating a Shabbos

By Mimi Liberow, Porto Alegre, Brazil.

The goal and purpose of the Jewish home is that on the seventh day it becomes a Shabbos home…a sanctified home.

Yet, the transition from one extreme to the other, from the mundane of the weekday to the sanctity of Shabbos is beyond us. It's like taking a huge leap to get from the sidewalk to the seventh floor. Good intentions and a strong desire just aren't enough.

But, if one climbs up a ladder, one rung at a time, one can get there. And the same goes for welcoming in the intense beaming of G-dliness on Shabbos. And, that experience is amplified to an infinitely greater extent if one dedicates "Shabbos time" every weekday, preparing a little every day. How so?

Create an island in which you isolate yourself from your surroundings, just like we do on Shabbos. It's our davening time. No smart phones. No worries. No distractions. Just you and Hashem. All the way at the top.

Then, a reflection of Shabbos shines deep within us and awakens our innate love of Hashem.

And when we're elevated, we bring along all of the mitzvos we fulfilled that day. And the light of those mitzvos shines on High at their Source. Since the purpose of the mitzvos is to bring Hashem's light down here – within us and our own homes and the entire world – we do our part by focusing our minds and our hearts on what really matters, on drawing close to Hashem and giving Him nachos in all our endeavors. And so, Hashem packages that light into all kinds of blessings and when Shabbos comes, He sends them our way.

Hashem gifts to us Shabbos and we take it and live it and share it with every single Jew, wherever and whenever we can reach them. We invite them to sample a taste of "Yom shekulo Shabbos umenucha" – a time when it will be Shabbos forever. A time already in the making…the revelation of Moshiach… when all our efforts will shine in a world where Hashem is at home.


תהא אשה צנועה – Protecting What is Most Important

By Chaya Gourarie, Sydney, Australia.

When Hashem created Chava, He deliberated over which of Adam’s limbs should she be created from. He didn’t wish to create her from the eyes – so she wouldn’t be prying. He didn’t create her from the hands – so she wouldn’t be a thief; nor from the mouth – so she wouldn’t chatter excessively…and so too with the other limbs from which to choose. (Midrash Tanchuma, Vayeshev 39:6)

Ultimately, Hashem resolved to create Chava from Adam’s rib, which is hidden inside the body, so that she would be צנועה – modest, private, unassuming.

But of all the internal organs and body parts, why specifically did Hashem select the rib? The ribs are special in that they encase and protect the vital organs- the heart, lungs, spleen. The ribs protect the life and essence of a person.

A woman is a protector of humanity – insofar as having the ability to create and sustain life. Coming from the rib, a woman is all about tznius – modesty, hiddenness, privacy, which protects the vitality of Creation. As Hashem created each part of her body, He declared: “תהא אשה צנועה” – “be a modest woman” (Bereishis Rabba 18:2), giving all womankind the message that her essence is strongly aligned with tznius.

Notes the Lubavitcher Rebbe in a powerful insight: “All that is sacred to the nation of [Hashem] and is fundamental to the house of Israel – in establishing and rearing an upright generation, kashrus of food, the sublime pure holiness of Shabbos, was entrusted by Hashem, for preservation and development, to the woman of Israel…” (Hayom Yom, 26 Adar II).

It is us women who cling to our values of modesty, privacy and focusing inward who protect and uphold the foundations of our nation.

Our role as women is to nurture, protect and hold onto what is sacred. We were created in this way to give us the strength and courage to persevere and fulfil our mission.

As we knead our challah dough, we can remember who we are nurturing. As we kindle Shabbos candles we have in mind those whom we seek to protect. And as we proudly hold onto the values of tznius, we reflect on the nation that we are upholding.

It is up to us – as the attribute of tznius is bound up in our DNA – to hold on to and protect that which is most important…Hashem’s children, the Nation of Israel.


Tisha B’Av Inspiration

By Zelda Vogel, West London/Ealing, U.K.

How could Hashem have allowed the destruction of the Beis Hamikdosh? The Rebbe asks this question, noting that Halacha forbids anyone from destroying even one stone from it.

Since Hashem follows the Torah’s Mitzvos, permitting the destruction would be a violation of Hashem’s own Laws.
There is one scenario wherein it is permitted to destroy the Beis Hamikdosh (or a shul), namely, for the purpose of building something better in its place.

Thus, the destruction was conditional on Hashem rebuilding a better one, which means that Tisha B’av is inherently connected with Moshiach and the rebuilding of the Third Beis Hamikdosh. In the Amidah we pray for its completion, therefore, by implication, the Geulah (Redemption) is not something in the future, rather we yearn for the conclusion of a process that has already commenced.

How can we internalise this message? People struggle with challenges. In dealing with them, we should be aware of and focused on the possibilities inherent within those challenges. By recognising that everything is part of a process that leads to an outcome, we can strengthen our mind-set and our bitochon – our trust – that Hashem is leading us to a positive outcome.

As we are in the month of Menachem Av, may Hashem comfort us by completing the process, revealing the goodness in everything that we see and experience.

May we merit the Third Beis Hamikdosh with Moshiach now!

Likutei Sichos 29,11
Rambam Hilchos Beis Hebechira 1:17 & R’ey Chapters 12,3 & 4 & Rambam Neg 65
Shemos Rabboh 30:9
Yalkut Shimoni Yirmiyahu #259


For this child I have Prayed (Shmuel I 1,27)

By Dina Brawer, Crown Heights, USA.

With these words, Chana is referring to her many years of prayer, asking to be blessed with a child and also beseeching Hashem for his life and continued well-being. The Gemara tells us that Chana was devastated that her young son Shmuel was condemned to death for ruling on a halacha in the presence of his teacher, Eli, Ha’Kohen Gadol. Eli tried to comfort Chana, promising her that she would be blessed with another son who would be even greater than Shmuel.

Chana responded and pleaded, “For this child have I prayed.” The Maharsha explains that Chana was saying this child carries within him hundreds of my tefillos, and those prayers cannot be replaced. Chana understood the impact of her tefillos and she wanted her prayer-filled son to thrive and be cherished. She wanted to continue investing her prayers in her existing son.

Chana is teaching us that tefillah is the primary ingredient in seeing nachas from our children. Hashem wants our prayers, He needs our prayers. We pray for the blessings we already have, not just for those blessings not yet granted.

‎ארבעים יום קודם יצירת הולד בת קול יוצאת ואומרת "בת פלוני לפלוני" Forty years before conception a Heavenly voice calls out: “the daughter of so-and-so is intended for so-and-so”.

Every soul is really half a being, created with a second half with which it is not yet united. When we set out to find our mate, we are searching for something that exists. And yet we daven – we pray. We ask Hashem for the search to be fruitful, for the process to be smooth. We daven because that is the foundation upon which a Jewish home is built.

When Eliezer, Avraham’s trusted servant, was sent to find a wife for Yitzchok, he stopped to pray on the way. Surely, the matchmakers were eager to suggest matches for Yitzchok, whose father was a prominent leader in the community, an icon of kindness, and a man of means. Why the need for prayer?

Eliezer knew that only with tefillah, through prayer, that he would successfully complete his mission and merit finding an appropriate wife for Yitzchok Davening was a fundamental part of the process.

Likewise, we pray for nachas from our children, and for shidduchim. We invest much time, intention and energy – yet nachas is harvested through a mother's tears and tefillos. The more we daven, the better the outcome… and the greater the nachas.

When a parent searches for a shidduch for her son or daughter, when a young adult looks for a partner with whom to build a home, this must be our guiding principle. The brachos already exist and we must daven to ensure that they bloom. Our prayers are not just hope for the future; they are how we shape the future.

And through those heartfelt prayers, may all our beautiful sons and daughters find each other and build everlasting Jewish homes together.


Heavenly Challah

By Chana Perman, Toronto, Canada

Imagine if you will
A bird's-eye view from above
The heartfelt prayers of a mother
Offered with tears and love

Now magnify the prayers
And multiply the tears
Think of a single boy or girl
Waiting..waiting...many years

The search goes on and on
For that special he or she
Worry begins to set in
What is going to be?

Feelings of despair and fear
Many more tears are shed
A distant dream, the blessing
Of being newly wed

Which key can open wide
That mighty heaven's door
Please G-d hear our prayers
We beg, we plead,
We implore

Now zoom in to a kitchen
And then another and another
Thousands of women baking challah
With fervent prayers for each other

Together with one goal
Steadfast in their unity
Davening for all the singles
In our global community

May we merit to see many new joyous pairs
May they merit the blessing of long happy years
May Hashem guide every couple
May laughter replace the tears


All prayers have been heard
The blessings are fulfilled
Mazal tov, mazal tov!
The new couples are thrilled

Imagine if you will
A bird's-eye view from above
All heartfelt prayers for shiduchim
Answered with joy and love.


Waiting for Moshiach on Volcanic Land

By Mushky Feldman, Reykjavik, Iceland

For several months, we had been experiencing intense earthquakes. The first time I really felt the tremors, I was shopping at the supermarket. Suddenly, the whole building wobbled and then finally a huge bang was felt as much as heard. Like an explosion…and it was quite frightening! After running out of the supermarket with my baby, I confirmed it was just an earthquake and returned to find my abandoned shopping cart. I couldn’t find it, and as a result, I lost the last few jars of kosher pickles I had taken from the grocery shelf. It turns out that in Iceland, earthquakes are a common occurrence. Since the island sits on the tectonic plates of the European and American continents, they happen every few minutes. But to feel them all the way in the city is not common. Following the incident at the supermarket, we started feeling earthquakes on a daily basis, and then, before long, every few hours. Some were intense, while we only found out about others after the fact. As the earthquakes became stronger and more frequent, geologists in Iceland got to work to determine what was behind this strange development.

Finally, we received clarity: a volcano would be erupting very soon. The earthquakes were a result of the magma (lava) boiling and moving under the ground. Wow! All the residents of the affected area had already undertaken measures in their homes to prepare for the strongest shake yet to come. We removed anything loose from high shelves, secured furniture to the walls, and tucked our kids tightly into bed every night to prevent them from waking up in shock. The unending earthquakes and a potential volcanic eruption were almost constantly on our minds. When Moshiach comes, won’t it be just like that? We are already getting ready in real and tangible ways. The Lubavitcher Rebbe has given us clear direction so many years ago – to keep moving, to keep doing…because Moshiach is almost here. We’ve had the earthquakes, the “ikvesa d’Meshiacha - birth pangs of Moshiach” - like the Rebbe says, for so many years. What more can we do? Here, here comes the big eruption. Moshiach will arrive and it’ll be just like that. Just like a volcano. Bringing forth the depths of Torah, Toraso shel Moshiach.Revealing secrets, giving us strength, illuminating the dark.
A week before Pesach, the very depths of the earth burst out through a beautiful volcano. The lava erupted upwards for days, reaching 300 meters high. We were able to see it hundreds of kilometers away. This active volcano is changing the face of Iceland forever and geologists claim the eruption will continue for many years to come. People are flying from all over the world (with Covid measures in place) to see this incredible phenomena.

May this 15th Av (and Tisha B’av) be celebrated with Moshiach as all the wellsprings of Chassidus burst forth for all the world to see - ומלאה הארץ דעה את ה׳ (and the world will be filled with the knowledge of Hashem), together in Yerushalayim!


The Promise of Chamisha Asar B’Av

By Batsheva Segal, Berlin, Germany.

This week presents an interesting juxtaposition between the tragedy of Tisha B’Av and the celebratory 15th of Av. While these two events are seemingly at odds with one another, we know that everything happens b’hashgocha protis (Divine Intervention) and there are always deeper connections for us explore.

Historically, the 15th of Av has provided a ray of hope following some of the most devastating events in Jewish history. After 40 years of wandering the Midbar (Desert) to atone for the sin of the Miraglim (Spies), it was on the 15th of Av that Bnei Yisroel understood they were ready to enter Eretz Yisroel. We read the haftorah of Nachamu on the Shabbos following Tisha B’Av and we recall the midrash heralding the birth of Moshiach during this time.

However, perhaps the most powerful allegory for us to consider is the link between the full moon – which is in full effect on the 15th – and the Jewish people. As we know, the Yidden are often compared to the moon and its rotational cycle. At times we glow like the moon at its zenith, while at others we experience darker periods that conceal our true potential. The full moon of the 15th of Av reminds us that even during our moments of shadow and doubt (a la Tisha B’Av), we can always push back the darkness and shine anew.

May we channel the hope of Chamisha Asar B’Av and discover only simchos and joy in the year to come.

‎מאמר לא היו ימים טובים לישראל תשמ״ז


Women of Today, Separating Challah of Tomorrow

By Hindel Swerdlov, Yerushalyim, Israel.

The Jewish Woman comes to the Tomb of Rachel on a Friday morning to pray and perform the mitzvah of “challah” at the site of the oldest Jewish tombstone in history. With this blessing, she, along with fifty other women, will answer “Amen” to hopes, desires and dreams that represent our Jewish nation’s wellbeing.

The inspiration for this female collaboration is to hasten Moshiach, when we will once again be preparing the challot in the Third Temple.

The Mainstay of her Home comes to Momma Rochel on her only day off in the week. She approaches the table where large mixing bowls are set in a row. Into the bowl she pours in her water and flour alongside other women whom she has never met before but with whom she feels a vital connection.

This Superwoman mixes the dough with her bare hands. She sings holy words as she begs for the welfare of her loved ones – and those she does not know, but knows she loves. They are all at Mother Rachel’s grave to pray for an enlightened future, where peace and truth prevail.

This Bedrock of her Home tells her Advocate-on-High, that her People need safety, and her family requires financial stability. She asks for peace of mind and spiritual clarity in her quest for a purposeful life.

She sprinkles salt and sugar into her bowl as she gives thanks to G-d for babies that have been born, for women who have found their Bashert, for those who healed mentally and physically, and for marriages that found more beauty.

This Noblewoman then recites the blessing and separates the challah. She raises it up to G-d in front of “Der Mammeh”, while all those around her cry out “Amen!”

The powerful Collective Feminine within feels the energy of this eclectic group and knows that G-d hears her prayers and the world has already changed for the better.

During this International Challah Bake, may all Women of Israel meditate together on being united as one through the ultimate redemption, and may we hear Rachel Imeinu answer “Amen”.



By Tzivia Grauman, Johannesburg, South Africa.

Suffering seems built into the human condition and no-one is exempt. Pain visits everyone – whether due to a health challenge, a struggle to find one’s bashert (intended spouse), a lack of parnosa (livelihood), or the loss of a loved one. Too often, life appears challenging and bewildering, and Hashem’s ways feel indecipherable and impossible to fathom.
And yet, we are told that we must be b’simcha, that we are obliged to serve Hashem with joy and have absolute faith that everything that we experience is intrinsically good.

In Parshas Vayigash we learn that from the moment Yosef’s brothers arrive in Egypt they are beset by strange, confusing events. The Viceroy behaves in an incomprehensible manner and subjects them to several bizarre experiences. But the instant he says, “Ani Yosef - I am Joseph” everything falls into place. No further explanation is required. In the same way, teaches the Chofetz Chaim, G-d will one day reveal Himself to us and say, “Ani Hashem - I am G-d” and suddenly everything will make sense.

In his book, Bringing Heaven Down to Earth, Tzvi Freeman shares hundreds of meditations from the wisdom of the Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson. On believing in good, the Rebbe says there are two paths. One is that everything is ultimately for the good. The other declares that everything truly is good, because there is nothing else but “He Who Is Good”. May we merit the strength and insight to recognize the overarching truth of this second path, and live in perfect faith that all is not only for good, but is inherently good.

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The Moon and Our Mission in Life: The Message of the 15th Day

A word from the desk of Zissel Goldman, Kauai, Hawaii

The 15th of Av is indeed a most auspicious day.

The Jewish nation is compared to the moon and thus ‘carry’ the traits of the moon within; wherein the phases of the moon reflect our mission in life.

From the 1st through the 15th days of the month, the appearance of the moon seemingly increases in size and light. We too are asked to increase in light a bit more each day – continuously striving to be better, to do more…to transform.

On the 15th day of the month the moon is at its fullest and visible in its entirety.

However, on that very same day, the moon is also on the brink of becoming less full, for it now starts to diminish in size and light. This incremental process continues until the end of the month, when the moon is no longer visible and the cycle begins again.

We are meant to always be increasing in life. Ma’alin Ba’kodesh – growing and ascending in spirituality and holiness. Clearly we are not meant to decrease. What then is the lesson for us regarding the second half of each month?

When bringing light into this world, we must recognize that we don’t technically bring our own light into this world, rather, G-d’s light. G-d’s light already exists. Our task is to channel it and facilitate its revelation in this world through our actions.

While the moon appears to be diminishing in size, it is actually drawing closer to its source, the sun; until when fully aligned with its source, we can no longer see any part of it. However, it is at this time that it is renewed to once again continue to reflect its light into the world.

So too, the more we surrender our ego and focus on self-improvement and refinement – recognizing G-d’s hand, our source, in our actions – the more we are able to channel our Divine light.

The 15th day of the month is a bridge between these two distinct lunar phases, embodying the message that we are not meant to simply increase in the quantity of our light, but also and more importantly, in its quality.

The message of the 15th day of Av is thus to continue to increase in our light as we did the day before, but to be a bit less self-absorbed. So that as the light increases, it also becomes brighter and clearer.

Likkutei Sichos, Chelek Lamed Daled,Parshas Va’eschanan p41-50

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Letting G-d In

A word from the desk of Fruma Schapiro, Sydney, Australia

The Kotzker Rebbe posed the famous question:
"Where is G-d to be found?”
And answered,
"G-d is to be found wherever we let Him in".
Why then does He seem to make it so hard for us to do so?
The first verse in the Torah is “Berieshis boro Elokim…” In the beginning, Gd created…” it is significant that the name Elokim is used even though Hashem has many names.
The gematria, numerical value of the name Elokim, is the same as “hateva”, nature, indicating that Hashem created a world that would conceal His presence in the guise of “nature”. This is known as the state of golus.
The difference between the Hebrew words, golus and geulah (redemption), is the letter alef, representing the one Hashem, Master of the World, "alufo shel olam".
It is our task, our purpose, to transform golus into geulah; to seek Hashem and reveal His presence from within the depths of concealment even if it is sometimes a difficult journey.
Our mandate and challenge is to “let Him in” and believe with absolute faith that He is the hand behind everything natural.  He alone directs every step of man and orchestrates every moment of our lives.
So, when confronting your golus challenges today,know, that embedded within these very circumstances lies the potential for geulah, for redemption, for the solution, for a deeper awareness.
In our darkest moments, we pray, we feel compelled to search and find strength and complete trust in the “alef,” the one G-d.
In doing so, we achieve personal geulah (redemption), cultivating a renewed perspective.
May we all be worthy of "Letting G-d into our lives"                                                 

Adapted from the teachings of the Lubavitcher Rebbe Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneersohn

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