How to make challah for Rosh Hashana

Challah is dipped in salt before it is eaten as a memorial to the Temple's sacrificial system in which all sacrifices brought there were accompanied by salt. (Getty Images)

In the year 70, the Roman Empire destroyed what was known as the Second Temple in Jerusalem and, with that, the ability of the Jewish people to continue their hallowed sacrificial system.

So, the rabbis transferred many of the rites performed at the Temple onto the home (as a representative of the Temple), especially to the table of the home, a symbol of the sacred altar of the Temple. The rites of lighting candles, washing hands, blessing wine — all would take place, now, at the table of the home.

Thence, daily mealtime bread took on new meaning as a symbol of the age-old bread sacrifice brought to the Temple. This was a portion of the bread baked by the Israelites in their normal course of kitchen work, set aside and offered as sustenance to the priests of the Temple.

Those bread offerings originated in obeyance to the command from the Bible in Numbers 15:20: “From the first of your dough, you are to lift up a portion as contribution.” Putting aside that portion was called “taking challah,” as “challah” meant “bread” or “loaf.”

Today, observant Jewish bakers remove a small portion of their challah dough (it is a redundancy, for the name of the portion is itself called “the challah”) and burn it, in the oven or on a skillet, to remind them of the bread given to the priests in times long gone by.

On Shabbat each Friday evening, the head of the household (himself a representation of the Temple priest) breaks off a piece of the challah loaf and passes it to a member of the family. Again, a taking of, as it were, challah of challah.

The significance of these acts and gestures is heightened each year at the time of the High Holidays that commence each year on Rosh Hashanah, the …read more

Source:: The Denver Post

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