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She Kneads Her Needs Away

She Kneads Her Needs Away

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"And she kneads,
needs,
kneads her challah dough…"

I am not really the bake-my-own-challah-type. I am truly a neophyte at this, but since I started to believe that wheat makes me drowsy - baking my own spelt challah was the way to go… Besides the fact that separating a small portion of the dough and baking challah is one of the three mitzvot entrusted especially to the Jewish woman.

G‑d knows I have plenty to pray for, so there I wasThis mitzvah has the unique ability to bring G‑d's blessings into the Jewish home, and is a propitious time to ask G‑d for whatever you want. G‑d knows I have plenty to pray for, so there I was—with my ingredients on the table and troubles in my heart.

I glanced at my Kitchen-Aid, eyed the dough hook and thought, "Ah, such a special mitzvah, I will knead my dough by hand." There is something special about doing it on my own. It reminded me of the story of the angels coming to visit Abraham. He was so overjoyed to have guests, and out of tremendous love for the mitzvah of welcoming them, he went himself and slaughtered the animals for the meat to serve them, even though he had servants who could have done it for him. The making of bread, however, he left to his wife, Sarah, because that mitzvah belonged to her. This is actually the first time the mitzvah of challah is referred to in the Torah.

The flour and the rest of the ingredients were all mixed into a big bowl, my hands ready to knead.

The trick with spelt is not to over-knead. When using wheat flour, it is almost impossible to knead "too long," but if you over-knead spelt flour, your finished loaves will come out heavy and crumbly.

The recipe called for five minutes of kneading. I thought to myself, "I have five minutes to talk to G‑d for whatever I need." I set the timer, start and go.

Knead. "G‑d, I need my family to be healthy, physically, spiritually and emotionally."

Knead. Knead. "And G‑d, I'm so frustrated about all the dental work I am going through now."

Knead. Punch. "G‑d, I'm pretty upset about..."

"And she kneads,
kneads
kneads her
needs away..."

I was done with my troubles — What troubles? Wow, that only took about a half of a minute. The dough required another four and a half minutes of kneading. Now I was actually enjoying this therapy.

"G‑d, please give everyone who is sick a fast and speedy recovery."

The kneading is a tad harder to manage with speltI thought of my friend's husband who is not well. I thought of my friend's daughter who is sick. My sister's friend's son had an operation. An acquaintance of mine is in the hospital. A friend's friends' sister was in an accident. A cousin of another friend is so ill. This lady I met is on her second round of chemotherapy. And the list unfortunately went on and on and on. Knead, knead, punch, punch. I pummeled that dough. "G‑d, please heal them all quickly! Do not allow Your children to suffer!"

Spelt dough does not get so smooth, it stays pretty sticky. The kneading is a tad harder to manage. I looked at the timer, and, oh no, I only had two minutes left.

"G‑d, my friend's daughter has been looking to get married for years now, help her find her match." Then I thought of my cousin who has been searching for her Mr. Right too. Oh, which reminded me of this young man I met who would so like to find a nice young girl to marry and start a home. An idea started to formulate in my head... "Oh, maybe," I started to think, "this sweet girl I met would be a suitable match for..."

Rrringggg... the timer went off. But.... but... I was not done. There were still so many people I wanted to petition for. And so I continued to knead, punch and unstick the sticky dough from my fingers. I did not care if I over-kneaded the dough. I did not care if my finished loaves would come out heavy and crumbly. It didn't matter - I still had some praying to do.

And so I prayed. And I kneaded.

I then covered the dough to let it rise. "Let good things rise towards all the people I mentioned and prayed for," I thought.

An hour later, I was ready to separate a small piece of dough... "G‑d! Please send your salvation to all who are in need." I dropped some coins in the charity box, as is the custom, and then slowly said the blessing..."Blessed are you... King of the Universe...Who has sanctified us... and commanded us to separate challah." To complete the mitzvah, I then removed a small piece of dough, lifted it and with pride declared: "This is Challah."

I shaped the dough as best as I could. Let it rise another half an hour. Basted it with egg and sesame seeds. Put it in the oven to bake.

What a wonderful aroma filled the home.

Anyone want my spelt Challah?As I was packing away the freshly baked loaves in the freezer, I calculated that I had enough there for the next few weeks. (Not everyone is so keen on eating this crumbly challah.) "Too bad," I thought, "I want to do this again real soon; I don't want to have to wait another couple of weeks."

I enjoyed this process and wanted the special opportunity of petitioning for my friends and family again. I'm eagerly looking forward to baking a new batch. I'm kneading to advocate.

Anyone want my spelt Challah? T'was baked with love, faith, extra honey and…tears.

Devorah Leah Mishulovin is a Domestic Engineer, living in Los Angeles, CA.
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Anonymous Millersburg February 2, 2015

This is so beautiful! You have given me so much to think and pray about. I am not a Jew but I just started to make challah and I told my husband, "Making challah makes me happy. Something special happens." Now I have more understanding of why I feel this way. Thank you for sharing. Reply

Anonymous May 11, 2012

spelt challa try using coconut oil in spelt recipes... soft challa... that stays fresher...and dont allow to overrise...
AND try to do the sponge method... allowing challa to rise an hr with only half the flour... then adding more flour till dough is managable...

hatzlacha raba Reply

Tina Durango, Co August 30, 2011

Making Challah I am grateful for the letter you wrote on making challah, I also had a simialar experience and enjoyed and loved the results of the mitvah! IT WORKS!! It is great therapy and I look forward to making more challah,..HAPPY BAKING! Reply

Sarah Brindisi, Italy June 19, 2011

My challah session Thank you for sharing these heart felt thoughts with us. It made me realize how much we Jewish women are united..as though I have my sister next to me every time i make challah!Itoo make the most of this mitzvah and use it as my special timeto pray and give so much thanks to hashem...It is between me and Hashem..very intense and rewarding to my soul..so much indeed that I feel priviledged tobe able to do so.. iI live in a place where i am totally isolated from Jews or a shul..so this moment has become very special for me...it is my temple..I have put a lot of the physical (kneading by hand...always) but also so much of the spirtual gets put into it as well... Reply

Ginnie Atlanta, GA January 24, 2011

As I wipe tears from my eyes... I wanted to thank you for sharing your heart in such a wonderful article.

Thank you.

I will never look at making challah bread the same again. Reply

leah b. Bklyn, NY August 20, 2010

Thanks for a lovely article I just read your article and with tears in my eyes just had to write to tell you how inspired I was. I was toying with the idea of baking challah and was a bit intimidated by the thought of hand-kneading. But now you've given me food for thought. I have a lot to daven for, and kneading dough while I ask Hashem for help seems like a good way to get my message across. Thanks again. Have a great Shabbos! Reply

DL October 12, 2009

Thank you for the feedback... I am so glad to hear that.
You must have put just the right amount of joyful tears into them. Reply

KarenFS thornhill, canada October 9, 2009

Tears of joy I found your recipe on line and thought, let's try it. Not for the mitzvah so much as the joy of allowing my 2 year old the pleasure of eating Challah along with everyone in the family for the first time. As she has severe food allergies, it is sometimes difficult to give her the simple pleasure that we can take for granted. Most of the breads I make for her make better door stops than food! I made some of the dough into buns to taste it and it is delicious. I can hardly wait to see her face tonight at the Shabbat table when she can have the same Challah that everyone else is having. Shabbat Shalom! Reply

Ariella Sagochi sao paulo, brazil February 26, 2008

ME TOO! Guess there's gonna be lots of more Challah bakers now. Hope the bakeries don't go bankrupt... May all your requests be granted. Reply

Jampa West Hartford, CT February 22, 2008

Yum! What delicious Shabbos thoughts. I wish I could taste one of those lovely challahs, so full of good faith, wisdom and lovingkindness. I guess I'd better get busy with one myself! G-d bless Ms. Mishulovin and her loved ones, may they go from strength to strength. Reply

Alice Fine February 20, 2008

Tears of joy Hope those were tears of joy, if not then next challah baking should be mixed with tears of joy seeing all your requests being fulfilled. And you should have only thanks to give with each challah punch! Love your articles - full of feeling with a message to the world. Reply

Anonymous February 18, 2008

Thanks Your story reminded me of mine with this round of challah. People I shared it with asked, "What did you bake in to this one?" (referring to prayer and Shabbat prep). The taste of challah. The taste of Shabbat. The taste of our hearts. All combine to tell a story. Thank you for sharing yours. It is a true gift and blessing to be able to do this mitzvah. Reply

Judy Resnick Far Rockaway, NY February 18, 2008

Kneading True Story: A dear friend of mine in Canada knew that our daughter Frayda was looking for a Shidduch. So she said a prayer for Frayda while kneading Challah dough. Lo and behold, Frayda found Mr. Right and became engaged! (She is now married). I sent my Canadian friend this message: THANKS FOR THE CHALLAH. FRAYDA'S A KALLAH. Reply

Tamar Miami Beach, Florida February 18, 2008

with you You make me feel like I'm right there with you kneading and praying. You have a way of doing that with all your articles which is a very special talent as it is a powerful way of inspiring others each time with a profound message. Keep Going! Reply

Bobi Brooklyln, NY February 17, 2008

Inspiration Just decided to try to put baking challah in my hectic schedule. Sure sounds like it's worth it... I too have lots to pray for. Thanks for the inspiration. Reply

Moishele Fort Dix, NJ February 17, 2008

D.E. When my mother was asked "what do you do?", she would often reply "I'm in residential management", which would usually elicit an impressed facial expression from the questioner, who, were she to bother asking another question, would discover that the residence my mother was referring to was her own...so I liked seeing that Mrs. Mishulovin is a Domestic Engineer.... Reply

Esty, Montreal,Canada mtl, Canada February 17, 2008

Touched! I commend you for another very touching article, deepening and making us aware of the meaning of baking challa! May all your tefillos-requests be fulffilled! Reply

Devorah Leah Mishulovin February 17, 2008

Easy, Yummy, Spelt Challah Recipe. From the "Garden of Eating" cookbook.
2 Tbs. dry yeast
2 cups warm water
2 lb. spelt flour
1/3 cup oil
1/3 cup honey
1 teas. salt
Dissolve yeast in the warm water. Add the flour and remaining ingredients. Knead for 5 minutes, (at least), - dough will be slightly sticky.
Cover and let rise in a warm place for 1 hour.
Shape onto round challahs or rolls (this dough may not be shaped into braids so easily).
Let rise for 1/2 hour.
Bake @375 for about 20-30 minutes.

My tips, ideas....
I use double recipe in order to have enough dough to make the brocha.
I mix in a small amount of other flour too, as in rye or soy...
I add a bit of gluten
I put half water half seltzer. (Better for rising).
I cover my hands in flour then able to shape into braids.
I baste it with egg and add sprinkle poppy and sesame seeds.
I always add more honey.
And of course my special ingredient - tears.

You can mix and
add your own stuff and have fun with it...
Reply

Rochie Farkash Bellevue, WA February 17, 2008

I knead your challah recipe My husband is allergic to wheat and I am looking for a good challah recipe. Reply

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