Friday, July 18, 2008

Spiritual Baking

This might sound silly to some of you, but I actually had a rather meaningful, therapeutic Challah baking session today.

Since getting the book The Secret of Challah I've really been trying to put more meaning into each step of the process of Challah making.

The sifting of the flour, adding the ingredients (although I don't take it as far as some I've read about who sing and dance as they go, reciting Psalms and such), the mixing... I use this time to.. well, as Lt. Lenina Huxley said, "enhance my calm".

And after this week, I really needed it.

Apparently more than I thought because as I looked down into this huge bowl of dough I totally lost it. For about 5 minutes I stood there bawling my eyes out as I released the stress of the past few weeks. When I finally calmed down enough, I said the blessing for the 'taking of the challah', pulled off a piece and began punching the dough down.

I divided the dough into 6 parts, each one to be divided into strands for braiding. The first one, as I rolled the strands, was dedicated to just thanking God for everything.

The second was dedicated to asking God to help people I know realize their dream of becoming parents either for the first time or again. Two strands were dedicated to two specific couples I know and the other two were dedicated to the anonymous members of the various boards and forums.

The third and fourth were dedicated to those who needed healing - physical, mental, emotional.

The fifth was dedicated to my children.

And the final one was for my husband and myself.

I wonder if it will taste different this week...

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Reisheet Chag HaGez is a sheep shearing festival celebrated in biblical times, traditionally done in the spring (usually Issru Chag Shavuot). A portion was then tithed to the Kohanim, as it is written in Dvarim, 18:4 "The first-fruits of your grain, of your wine, and of your oil, and the first of the fleece of your sheep, shall you give him (the Kohanim and Leviim)".

Maale Levona was the first place to resurrect this ancient celebration and this year the Kohain who received the portion of the fleece was haRav Dov Bigon, founder and Rosh Yeshiva of Machon Meir. Towards the end of the slide show, the other man standing next to him is Rav Yair Shachor, Rav of Maale Levona.