Challah as a Metaphor for a Spiritual Life

Challah Bread

Challah is more than just bread to some Hasidic Jewish Communities.

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.

Spirituality Around the World: Jamaica

Jamica_Spirituality

Jamaica has a long and unique spiritual history.

The history of Jamaican spirituality explained by Bernard Jankee.

The kumina was a musical and religious form originating with the Congo people. The dance features lots of hip movement, the use of flat-footed sliding of the feet and breaks. Drums and singing are included in the ceremony. These breaks in the dancing are the result of the musical instruments, which give clues as to how to move your body. These sessions are not intended for entertainment.

Soon, the revival bands began forming in Jamaica. These groups came from different parts of the world – even as far out as Germany. Ettu, another spiritual group, came to Jamaica with indentured servants.

In the 1930s, Rastafarianism began. Rastafarian draws heavily on other religious practices and has become more and more modern.

Symbols

Water is almost a universal symbol across all types of spirituality in Jamaica. Christian churches use wine and white rum is used in kumina, ettu and revival ceremonies.

These symbols are starting to become intertwined – a result of globalization. Rastafarians have begun dancing kumina.

Spiritual possession is something that occurs across both the kumina and ettu ceremonies. During these ceremonies, people will feel as though a spirit enters them and takes control of their body.

Blood sacrifices are part of some rituals, with goats and other animals being slaughtered. These animals were then skinned and eaten.

Christmas Disturbances Law

Jankee told an anecdote about the 1841 Christmas Disturbances Law. The law banned the playing of musical instruments during the season and resulted in some children getting arrested. Riots followed the arrests, led by the mothers of the children involved.