Challah Bake International

Daily Inspiration

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Uniting the Material and Spiritual

A word from the desk of Chanie Diskin, Munich Germany

The mitzvah of Challah was given to woman because it is a tikun (correction) for the  חטא עץ הדעת  (the sin of eating from the forbidden fruit).That fateful transgression triggered a separation between kedusha (that which is holy) and gashmius (the mundane world), while the mitzvah of Challah represents the antidote – the elevation of gashmius (the physical world) to ruchnius (spiritual).
Halacha dictates that we may only separate Challah from a kneaded dough – once the flour and water are joined together. Curiously, however, it is not yet baked and therefore not really edible! Would it not be more logical to perform the mitzvah following the completion of the baking process?
Flour is composed of separate particles, thus symbolizing materialism which “itself” feels as an independent entity from Hashem. The water symbolizes Torah (אין מים אלא תורה). The union of flour and water symbolizes the penetration of Torah into worldly affairs, until they cease to be separate entities and become one Divine entity. The role of the Jew is to instill אלקות (Godliness) into every aspect of our lives – which is learned from the halacha that we may only take Challah from an already kneaded dough and not when the ingredients are separate entities.

Source: Toras Menachem, Perek 23, pg. 83.


Simcha is Always Welcome

A word from the Desk of Dina Gourarie, Sydney, Australia

The Gemora (Taanis 22a), relates that R’ Beroka met Eliyahu Ha’Navi in the market place and asked him if there were any people there destined for Olam Habah (the world to come). Eliyahu identified two individuals. Intrigued, R’ Beroka approached and asked them what were their occupations?
They replied: “We are comedians who bring joy to those who are depressed.”

The Rebbe (see Shaar Simcha Ubitochon B’Hashem pg 81 onwards), points out that although the primary source of Simcha is Torah and Mitzvahs, nevertheless, often it can be derived from simple mundane experiences. This is an important concept because it allows even those who are simple and involved in the mundane to both give and receive joy.

The above story emphasises the power of this idea. It takes place in the ‘market place’ - a place of mundane activity away from the halls of Torah and Tefila. Yet a little comedy bringing happiness to the downtrodden guaranteed two people (long before their time was up) a place in Olam Habah.

As often quoted by the Rebbe, even in the month of Av a strategy to decrease any form of negativity is through (permissible) Simcha. Use the power of joy and bring blessing to you and others.


I Said NO Because I love you!

A word from the desk of Mrs.Chanie Myers, Bratislava, Slovakia

The name of the month of Av teaches a profound lesson regarding the essence of Av and our relationship with G-d during this time. As a rule, all Jewish months have names which are related to the spiritual life-force of that specific month.  Two examples are: the month in which Rosh Hashanah falls, Tishrei, which comes from the Aramaic word "Tishri", meaning, "Let it begin"; and, Nissan, in which we celebrate Pesach, derived from the word "Nissim", miracles. Then along comes the saddest, least-auspicious month on the calendar, Av meaning...father??? This name is intentional and comes to teach us the role of a parent. Unlike friends, who are considered devoted when they provide total acceptance and empathy, parents are entrusted to provide children with education, guidance and direction. If parents create a healthy emotional environment where children are confident in their parent’s love and concern for them, they will readily accept the discipline and limitations which parents sometimes set. Unlike other months in the Jewish calendar, when G-d saved, protected, spoiled and showed His love for us through miracles, in Av G-d reprimanded us.  However, despite our tears and protests, and despite His wrath and disappointment, the name Av reminds us that G-d always remains our loving Father even during tough times – no sin can diminish or erase the everlasting bond between us. Our job is to rejoice in the task He has given us of transforming His home here on earth into a fitting dwelling place for His presence amongst us.

Sources: Adapted from the works of the Lubavitcher Rebbe Menachem Mendel Schneerson


A Take Away From the Challah

A word from the desk of Mrs. Dena Schusterman, Atlanta, Georgia

It’s sinful to speak ill of others.

We are even reproached from judging others—-until we stand in their shoes.

I.E. never.

Yet, it’s natural to judge.

So we are back to square one of thinking unhelpful thoughts, which can lead to speaking badly. What is a woman (man,or child too) to do?

Learn from the candles, learn from the challah, learn from Shabbos.

Before Shabbos we separate the bread. Creating divine challot.

As we welcome Shabbos we light the candles. We bring light into our dark homes.

As Shabbos leaves we light the torch of Havdalah.Its name is separation.

What are all these actions telling us?

They tell us about discernment.

Instead of judgment,

Separate yourself like the piece of challah you took.

Say to yourself, “That action is not for me.” Notice you can be different.

Use distinctions and leave the judgment behind.

Instead of judgment,

Illuminate like the light of the Shabbos candles.

Say to yourself, “I need more information to understand what’s going on.” Leave the feeling of bumping around in the dark behind.

Instead of judgment,

Use the shadows and warmth of the Havdalah torch to create boundaries.

Say to yourself, “I am me, you are you. We are different, we don’t need to be the same. “

The separation and diversity is what enriches us.

Through this process I take more time to notice what is unusual or not a fit for me. I feel safe, instead of anxious about another and her ways. I think I am able to judge less and wish well instead.

Source: RCS JLI Pause and Affect, A Shabbat Outlook


Challah- A Powerful Reminder of the Divine

From the Desk of Mrs. Golda Junik, London, England

The Torah instructs us to ‘donate’ “Challah.” (Bamidbar (Numbers) ‪15:18-21‬). The Biblical Mitzvah determines that a professional baker separates one out of forty-eight parts, while a lay baker (at home or elsewhere) separates one out of twenty-four parts. [1] The simple reason the professional baker separates less dough is because he is baking to earn a livelihood. [2]A private homemaker, who usually kneads a smaller quantity, needs to make the gift a suitable one.
[3] On a deeper level, the observance of this commandment possesses a powerful reminder of the Provider of all food. Preparing food is a routine activity and we often lose focus on the miracle of food’s availability. A professional baker, who is reliant upon a fruitful planting season, has more opportunity to be reminded of the Divine Source of the food. He normally monitors the developments of the process, and thereby witnesses Heavenly providence throughout the progression of the flour manufacturing. A lay person usually focuses only on the final product. He must give away a greater percentage, to have a greater awareness of the Heavenly Supplier. Ample opportunities are available to focus on the routine of life. By connecting the seemingly routine and mundane experiences to the Master of the Universe, one realizes how fortunate every healthy and successful person really is.

May we always see the Hand of Hashem in our daily interactions, and be blessed with healthy Shidduchim, wealth and joy, and Nachas in great abundance. May we always have the faith and trust that Hashem will send one’s Bashert with open and revealed

Sources: 1. Ateres Zahav 2. Rambam 3. Lubavitcher Rebbe, Biurim Leperush Rashi Bamidbor, Likutei Sichos volume 18:5

Marching To Victory

A word from the desk of Dina Gourarie.
Shlucha: Sydney, Australia

The Rebbe Rayatz taught that when an army prepares to go out to war, the soldiers are instructed to depart for the campaign with joy; marching with a spirit of victory despite uncertainty regarding the outcome of the battle. By doing this, the Rebbe explained, the “victory march” itself actualizes the potential for victory.

On the 15th of Av, in kitchens worldwide, we will feel the rhythm and hear the beat of women baking challah with Simcha (joy) and Bitachon (faith). May this initiative, undertaken with sincere Emunah (belief), manifest Shidduchim for all.

Adapted from: Sefer Simcha U’bitachon B’Hashem pgs.139-140

Confidence in Hashem

A word from the desk of Dina Gourarie ,
Shlucha: Sydney Australia

The source for the mitzvah of blessing two challahs on Shabbos is taken from the double portion of Mon (Manna) that fell on Friday, Erev Shabbos in the dessert.

Va’Yikrah Beis Yisroel Es Sh’mo Mon…(The House of Israel called it manna…)
The term House of Israel, refers to the women, who represent the anchor of the Jewish family and are associated with the concept of a home. It was therefore the women who called this substance Mon (Manna) food received from G-d as a gift.

The Midrash explains that the gift of the manna had awakened in the Jewish people a spirit of confidence in Hashem, and a calm assurance for the future. Maintaining these ideals depended primarily on the women. It is therefore very significant that the women were the first ones to designate and name the manna as the providential gift from Hashem (Rabbi S. R. Hirsch)

Through the baking of our Challah, may we too express unconditional confidence in Hashem and calm assurance for the future.

On Faith

From the Desk of Dina Gourarie,
Shlucha: Sydney Australia

The entirety of the Jewish nation are “Ma’aminim B’nei Ma’aminim” – believers and children of believers.

Woven into the fabric of our souls and intellect is the belief that G-d rules the world and is “Tachlis Hatov V’Ha’tov Atzmo” – the essence of good and good itself!

The Rebbe Rayatz taught in the name of the Baal Shem Tov that
G-d’s love for us is compared to that of a father to an only son; indeed, His love is actually infinitely greater than we can conceptualize.

However, even though we may know this intellectually, when faced with adversity or challenge we may still experience distress or worry. But, we are promised that if we internalize this faith deeply and emotionally in our hearts, then G-d will respond “midah k’neged midah” – in kind, resulting in full comprehension that the “concealed good” will be recognized in a “revealed” and tangible manner.

Challah Bake International 2018 – a time of unity and belief in G-d’s ultimate goodness – with Simcha, creating a heartfelt opportunity to experience G-d’s revealed blessings from His open and generous hand!

Adapted from Igros Kodesh, Volume 4, p.g. 220

Three Week Inspiration

From the Desk of Chana Labkowski
Shlucha: S. Paulo, Brazil

The Prophet Yirmiyahu refers to the period of the “Three Weeks” by saying: “Makel Shoked Ani Roeh (I envision an Almond branch)”.

The almond is a fruit which ripens quickly over the course of 21 days (3 weeks). The nature of an almond is that although it starts out bitter, it matures into a sweet nut. The function of the 21 days is to change the almond from bitter to sweet, similarly, our mission is to transform the Golus (Exile) from “bitter” to sweet.

The Navi did not actually see a blooming almond branch rather just a plain stick. The vision the Navi saw had to be interpreted. In the same way we need to persevere through the concealment of this exile.

There are two types of almond branches: one is soft and moist, attached to its roots while the second kind has been uprooted, dried out and has become a strong stick.

Hashem’s message to Yirmiyahu: Even though we Jews have been uprooted from our source, this in and of itself gives us the capability and strength to blossom like the almond branch and usher in the final redemption!

An Opportunity for Transformation

From the Desk of Chana Labkowski,
Shlucha: S. Paulo, Brazil

The three feminine Mitzvos are transformational in nature.

By lighting Shabbos candles, a woman transforms the mundane workweek into Shabbos by ushering holiness into her home.

By baking Challah or more specifically “taking” Challah which, in the time of the Beis Hamikdash was given to the Cohen, a woman transforms the dough into something both kosher and holy.

By fulfilling the laws of Family Purity, a woman sanctifies her marriage and transforms her entire family, in a positive holy way for generations.

Therefore, when performing these three Mitzvos we are encouraged to use this transformational energy as an “Eis Ratzon” (auspicious time) by davening to Hashem for anything related to children, sustenance or health. Most importantly we beseech Hashem for the biggest transformation of all: Golus to Geulah - exile to redemption!

A Day Filled with Simcha

From the Desk of Dina Gourarie,
Shlucha: Sydney Australia

Imagine that even before YOU wake up the Abeshter (Creator) shifts His Worldy attention to hover at the foot of YOUR bed.

Imagine that He gazes upon you, filled with the same pleasure a father derives from watching over his slumbering child.

Imagine that you wake up and internalize this encounter. It fills you with excitement and you immediately respond with an affirmation that Hashem is the Creator of the world by reciting Mode Ani.

The Lubavitcher Rebbe teaches us that this actually happens every morning!! Not only can we tap into the Simcha (joy) this generates, drawing from and building from this daily event, but we can be assured that throughout our entire day Shivisi Hashem L’negdi Samid (I place G-D before me constantly), supporting and guiding us.

Internalizing this knowledge imbues us with the ability to navigate through life’s challenges with continued Simcha (joy). This joy not only affects us and the life we choose to lead, it also influences everyone we meet.

Something to think about when we need an extra boost!

Adapted from Sefer Simcha U’bitachon B’Hashem pg.64 (Sichas quoted from the Lubavitcher Rebbe)

Living a Miraculous Life

From the Desk of Chana Labkowski,
Shlucha: S. Paola, Brazil

Hashem(G-D) relates to this world through the laws of nature as well as by creating miracles. When an event occurs according to the rules of nature, following cause and effect, Hashem uses the attribute of Justice (Midas Hadin). A miracle happens when Hashem goes beyond the rules of nature and has pity on His creations, using the attribute of Mercy (Midas Harachamim).

When we limit the performance of Mitzvos (good deeds) to our “Teva (nature)”, because it’s something we like to do (some people have a kind and generous personality or they may enjoy visiting the sick), Hashem responds in kind.

However, when we extend the performance of Mitzvos over and above our comfort zone, reaching further than our “Teva”, observing the Mitvos with attention to detail, just because Hashem “said so”, Hashem reciprocates! He gives us tremendous Siyata Dishmaya ( Divine assistance) and great miracles occur beyond the constraints of nature.

Choose something that is beyond your comfort zone and watch the miracles unfold!

The Power of Prayer

From the Desk of Chana Labkowski,
Shlucha: S. Paulo, Brazil

The prophetess Chana serves as one of the most inspiring role models regarding prayer. Setting aside her personal desires, she entreats Hashem to bless her with a child, who can be consecrated to serve the Al-mighty. Chana’s supplications were offered in silent prayer from the heart. In response to the Kohen Gadol’s inquiry into what she was doing, Chana replied: “va’eshpoch es nafshi lifnei Hashem” – explaining that she was pouring out her heart to Hashem.

Chana united her soul with Hashem, affirming that Hashem’s will would guide her. Her desire for a child now became a desire for that child to be dedicated to G-d’s will. Chana was thus able to effect a change in Hashem’s will, creating a new reality that resulted in the birth of a son, who grew to become the great prophet, Shmuel.

Whatever our needs are, through prayer we are able to create change – provided the intention is for the sake of Heaven. That is why we recite the words “Yehi Ratzon…” – May it be Your will Hashem, even if it wasn’t previously destined to be.

Letting go

A word from the desk of Dina Gourarie ,
Shlucha, Sydney Australia

Letting go...

A weary man trudges along carrying a heaving sack.
A kind wagon driver offers him a ride.
Grateful, the man climbs on to the wagon.
He sits bent over, his bag on his lap.
The wagon-driver turns to him and asks:
“Why don’t you rest your sack on the wagon floor, so that it can relieve you of your heavy burden”?
To which the man replies: “I’ve troubled you enough, how can I possibly let go of my burden and impose on you further”?
(parable from the Dubno Magid)

The Dubnor Maggid used this parable to explain the wisdom of Dovid Ha’Melech(Tehillim 55;23):

Hashleich Al Hashem Yehovcho – Cast your burden upon Hashem, and He will sustain you.
Our burdens and worries may be many, but Hashem has infinite resources – let go and let Him carry both you and your troubles.

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