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10,000 Challahs

Malcolm Gladwell in his book Outliers speaks about the 10,000 hour rule. If you do something 10,000 times, or keep at it for 10,000 hours (preferably not consecutively – can’t begin to imagine what that would look like!) you will become an outlier in that area. You will be the foremost expert on _______________ (pick whatever you will to fill in the blank; Guitarist, illustrator, baker, bedtime story reader, . . .)

I have been thinking about this lately in terms of my challah baking. It occurred to me recently that I may well have braided 10,000 challahs at this point in my life.

Today my challahs came out particularly pretty. They were all just so symmetrical and the braiding just kind of happened on its own, and the thought popped into my head – is it possible that I’ve reached the 10,000 challah mark??

So I started my calculations . . . (this may be why I burned the onions, the kugel and my grilled veggies. . . try to not do mathematical calculations while simultaneously cooking for shabbos – especially if you are as bad as I am at math!)

I won’t bore you with my numbers, it was hard enough on myself (and yes, even with a calculator!) but it seems I have reached (and exceeded!) 10,000 challahs. Whew!

That’s a whole lotta challah.

There’s an amazing woman in my community who is cooking a whole Shabbat meal this week for the first time! She’s been swept up in the incredible Shabbos Project energy – and is hosting her first Friday night dinner.

She’s been texting, emailing and calling me since the beginning of the week, with questions about all my recipes that she’s using – and I’m so proud of her – and so excited for her to make this shabbos meal – I’m welcoming all her messages! One of the messages, randomly arriving via text very late last night . . . “How do you do this every week???”

I get that question a lot. Not many people, outside the Shabbos observant community, cook 2 full three+ course meals (at least) once weekly – and host multitudes of guests for those meals as well. It’s pretty much reserved for thanksgiving, when the entire USA collectively panics about 1. Turkey 2. Mashed potatoes 3. Pumpkin pie. I have a lot of fun with that – but truthfully, I understand.

If you don’t do something often, it’s very time consuming and difficult. When you do it often, it becomes exponentially easier. When you do it 10,000 times . . . well, then you can basically nap through it.

So, you want to make really great challah? Just make it! And keep making it.

Robert Collier, American self-help author, said it well, “Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out.”

Our own sages speak of this as well, Rabbi Hillel taught this to Rabbi Bar Hei Hei (I just have to put that in, because I think he has the greatest name of all time. Bar Hei Hei. Amazing.) “One who learns Torah and reviews it 100 times cannot be compared to one who reviews it 101 times.”

That is to say – if you only learned it 100 times you’re a slacker. That’s what everyone else is doing. But if you learn it 101 times, then… you will be a master.

Keep at it, whatever it is you are determined to master, and one day, you will be very, very good at it.

So I lift my (well-earned) cup of tea to all of you.

Here’s to 10,000 challahs past, and hundreds of thousands of challahs to come, please G-d.

May we make them in good health, share them with good friends, and may they always Rise.

Shabbat Shalom!

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