Separating Challah

Challah: Recipe, Laws, and Prayers

Challah is more than just a delicious loaf of bread. A simple how-to for the recipe of dough, what and when must you separate the "challah," and accompanying prayers.

Challah: Recipe, Laws, and Prayers

For your convenience: The order of preparing dough, the blessing and the accompanying prayers. Separate the piece from the dough to bring salvation and to honor the holy Shabbat

Recipe (according to the order of its ingredients):

2 kilo sifted flour
6 Tbsps sugar (to sprinkle in the middle of the dough)
2 Tbsps salt (to sprinkle on the sides of the dough)
3-4 Tbsps dry yeast (to sprinkle in the middle of the dough)
4-5 cups of water

Instructions:
Knead the dough and add in the end 1/3 cup oil.
Let the dough grow for half an hour.
Separate the piece from the dough and recite the blessing over it.
Afterwards, braid the dough. Spread a beaten egg with a little water mixed in on the dough and scatter sesame / poppy seeds above it.
Remember! After baking — cover the tray containing the baked challahs with a dish towel.

Prayers to recite when preparing the bread

When sifting the flour:
Please G-d, help me to remove the bad and help me to distinguish between good and bad. Help me to get rid of all the sentences and words that don’t assist me in my service in G-d. Help me to differentiate  between what is forbidden and what is permitted.


When adding sugar (sugar represents the quality of kindness. Taste a little sugar and pray:)
Please G-d, help me to be a kind person, to be a good mother and wife, who is loving, soft, pleasant and warm. To use good words, to speak kindly, to bless my husband and children and encourage them. My Creator, help me to improve my character and sweeten it.


When adding the yeast:
Please help me to be enthusiastic and humble when serving G-d. I should be full of energy at home, spirited in doing G-d’s Will, feeling joy in life and happiness in my heart. My Creator, help me convey to my children and whoever sees me that a life of Torah is a life of happiness.


When adding the water: (Water is a parable for Torah.)
Help me have a Jewish home, a home of Torah. May we study Torah with diligence, enthusiasm and happiness, and may we love the Torah.


When adding the oil: (Oil represents blessing.)
Please, my Creator, give us a good living, contentment and blessing in our home, blessing in our children’s education, blessing in all our endeavors. May I have a clear mind, always feels a connection to G-d, and be a worthy conduit to receive His abundance.


When kneading the dough:
Please G-d, help me to be soft and flexible in my service of G-d. May everyone who eats from this challah that I am making enjoy a healthy mind and body to serve G-d. Please bring back anyone who has deviated from the right way, and help my efforts to improve my character and natural traits needed for my service of G-d.


When covering the dough and praying:
Please G-d, bring blessing to this dough as you blessed the doughs of our holy Mothers Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel and Leah. Please give us a good livelihood, contentment, happiness and blessing in everything we do. Whoever eats from this bread should find himself closer to You and his heart should be opened to serve only You and we should desire only You.


Prayer and supplication before separating the piece of dough:
May it be Your Will, L-rd our G-d and the G-d of our Fathers, that the merit of fulfilling this commandment and the merit of offering this piece of dough will rectify the sin of Eve the mother of all living who brought death upon the first man, who G-d had kneaded from the earth. In the merit of this commandment, may death be cancelled in the world, and may a tear be wiped off everyone’s face. Please send blessing to our home, Amen. May it be Your Will to bless our dough as You sent blessing in the doughs of our Mothers Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel and Leah. May the verse “The first of your doughs shall be given to the priest in order to receive blessing in your home” be fulfilled in us, Amen.
I am hereby fulfilling the commandment of separating a piece from the dough to rectify its source in heaven and to gratify my Creator and fulfill His will.
“And may the pleasantness of the L-rd our G-d be upon us. Establish the work of our hands for us; the work of our hands — establish it!” (Psalms 90:17)

When separating the piece of dough:
Ashkenazim:
Blessed are You, L-rd our G-d, King of the Universe, who has sanctified us with His commandments, and commanded us to separate challah.

Sephardim:
Blessed are You, L-rd our G-d, King of the Universe, who has sanctified us with His commandments, and commanded us to separate challah terumah.


May it be Your Will that our prayers be accepted favorably and the gates of tears will not be shut. May we merit the rebuilding of our Temple and the coming of our righteous Redeemer, Amen.

Supplication to be said after taking the piece of the dough:
May it be Your will, our G-d, the G-d of our Fathers, that the mitzvah of separating challah be considered as if I observed every one of its details. May my raising of the challah be considered as the sacrifice that was offered on the altar, which was willingly accepted. Just as giving the challah to the priest in the past served to atone for sins, so may it atone for my sins and I shall be like a person reborn, free of sin and transgression. May I be able to observe the holy Shabbat and Festivals with my husband (and our children), and be nourished from the holiness of these days. May the influence of the mitzvah of challah enable our children to be always nourished by the hands of the Holy One blessed be He, with His abundant mercy, loving-kindness, and great love; and the mitzvah of challah be accepted as though I have given a tithe. And now, as I am fulfilling the mitzvah of challah with all my heart, so may the compassion of the Holy One Blessed be He be aroused to keep me from sorrow and pain always, Amen.

It is appropriate to add this prayer for the Redemption:
May it be You Will, Master of the universe, to show compassion to each man and woman, small or big, individual or group, from Your people Israel who is presently in pain. Please, G-d, save them from their suffering, bless them with Your blessings, return them in full repentance, and bring the full redemption for the sake of Your Name, as is written: “And G-d will be King over the entire earth, on that day G-d will be one, and His Name will be one.”

General - the Order of Separating the Dough from the Challah

The spiritual preparation for this commandment should include being calm and happy. “One who happily does a commandment is as if he fulfilled all 613 commandments” (Rambam) and this includes one who makes challahs which is a Jewish woman’s commandment. This commandment protects and safeguards a woman and her entire home from severe and bitter decrees.
When the challahs are baking, it is a time of divine good will, and therefore she should entreat G-d and pray to Him at that time. It is a good idea to light a candle too to provide another merit.
It is also recommended that she wash her hands three times intermittently and give charity.
When one says an entreaty to G-d, it is as if one brought an offering on the altar to Him.

Laws

Dough containing more than 1.667 kilograms of flour that was kneaded with water, must have a piece of dough separated from it and a blessing recited over it. Less than this amount, one separates the piece of dough without reciting the blessing.
When should the piece of dough be separated? After the flour was mixed with the water, and the dough was kneaded, one should separate the piece. If one forgot to separate it from the dough, one should separate it from the bread after it was baked.
One should preferably cover the dough and recite the blessing. Then one takes any size piece of the dough and have in mind that he is thereby fulfilling the commandment.
The piece that was separated from the dough may not be eaten in our times even by the priests (for whom it was originally set aside in the times of the Temple). It must be destroyed in a respectful way, and one may not cook or eat it.
The piece should be wrapped in two plastic bags and put in the garbage or should be wrapped with silver foil and burned over a fire but not in an oven.
One should then say: “In honor of the holy Shabbat, the taste of manna, the taste of the Garden of Eden, the appearance of the Garden of Eden, the fragrance of the Garden of Eden. ”
One should also say twice: 
“And may the pleasantness of the L-rd our G-d be upon us. Establish the work of our hands for us; the work of our hands — establish it!”

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