Baking homemade bread has become something of a lost art in today’s one-stop shop world of mega grocery stores and pre-packaged everything. But for one devout sect of Hasidic Jews, baking traditional Challah bread is more than just cooking. Baked the same way for centuries, the art of making Sabbath Challah is not only still alive and well in the orthodox Lubavitch Chabad community, it holds deeper spiritual meaning.
As members of a small community, Chabad followers such as Feige Slavaticki are passionate about preserving these types of traditions so they can be passed from one generation to another. Baking Challah bread in particular is one of the most important of these traditions because each ingredient symbolizes an important element of the faith. Each step in the process helps remind followers of the way they should strive to live their lives.
Slavaticki explains that when yeast and water are combined before the baking process, they create a foam which represents passion for life and for her faith. The proportions of sugar and salt not only help make for a delicious Challah, they also symbolize the sweetness and accountability. The fact that the recipe calls for more sugar than salt reminds Chabad followers that they should approach all the challenges of life with more sweetness than anything else.
The final stage in the process, waiting for the bread to rise, symbolizes the balance between doing all we can as humans to make something perfect, while also remembering that our fates are ultimately in the hands of God.
Slavaticki felt so strongly about preserving the traditional way of baking Challah that she help a seminar in Chicago for Jewish women to learn the art.
Next time you are looking for spiritual guidance, remember to look at one of your everyday tasks and see how all the elements can represent higher level keys to living a fulfilling life.
You can read the full story on the Skokie Review.