Miriam always looked forward to Wednesday afternoons. That’s when she and her mother would bake challah together. Afterwards, they would freeze the challah. And then on Friday, they would defrost it so that it would taste freshly baked for Friday night. This Wednesday, Miriam’s mother told her, was special.

“You see, Miriam,” her mother said as she placed the dough on the table. “We are going to fulfill the mitzvah of taking challah — separating a piece of dough and reciting the berachah.”

“But we do that every week when we bake challah,” Miriam said with a puzzled look on her face.

“Yes,” her mother replied as she cut away the proper amount of dough from the batch. “But this week it’s special, because the mitzvah of taking challah is mentioned in this week’s parshah.”

Miriam remembered what her teacher had taught about “living with the parshah.” Her mind wandered to Eretz Yisrael. She imagined people preparing to deliver portions of challah to the Kohanim. She could almost see them carefully setting these portions aside, making sure that they would not mix with other bread or become tameh.

“Mommy,” Miriam suddenly asked as she braided her dough into a perfectly shaped challah. “When we take challah, we separate a piece of dough from the rest of the batch. It is supposed to go to the Kohanim, who are different and separated from the rest of the people. They have many responsibilities and privileges that other people do not have. I know their job is important, but isn’t Am Yisrael supposed to be united? If we are supposed to have Achdus, why are the Kohanim so different?”

“Separation can also be helpful,” replied her mother. “Sometimes, separation helps us to achieve true Achdus. Separating the Kohanim from the rest of the people gives them the authority to teach and guide. They do their best to lead the people to follow HaShem’s will. And it is when Am Yisrael fulfills HaShem’s commandments that we become truly united.

“The separation between Kohanim, Levi’im, and Yisraelim is not intended to divide our people. Each group has different jobs to do in making our world a dirah for HaShem. And doing this all together brings about complete Achdus — among our people and in the world.”

(Adapted from Likkutei Sichos, Vol. II, p. 584ff)