It’s the week of Schlissel Challah! . . . We bake a key into our challah, to symbolize our prayers for an opening of the gates, in our blessings for expansive and abundant sustenance in the coming year!
Tomorrow we bless the new month of Iyar – a month of healing.
The Manna began to fall from the sky in this month, the perfect healing food that would sustain the Jewish people in the desert. We just finished the holiday of Pesach, when we obsess over food – particularly -bread, grains, and even things that look like grains (yeah, i’m talking to all us crazy Ashkenazim!). We clean out every nook and wipe down every surface, determined to rid our homes and our selves of anything that could leaven and rise.
We are so obsessed with the ridding ourselves of grains, and then . . .it’s over.
Bread is back in season, the house smells of challah baking once again, and we welcome all forms of leavening back into our lives.
It’s kind of crazy. But bread is a really big deal. I’ve been saying this a lot
On Rosh Hashanah it is decided if one will live or die, suffer or not and other such things, but on Pesach is when we are judged on the grains. (The Meiri)
Based on this there are customs in Sephardic communities to do things Motzei Pesach/the night that Pesach ends, as a sign that we want Hashem to give us livelihood.
In Aram Soba/Syria and Turkey they put wheat kernels in all four corners of the house on Motzei Pesach as a sign of prosperity for the coming year. (Moed L’kol Chai -R’ Chaim Palagi, Beis Habichira). So much for that sparkling clean house!
We have another tradition, one that dates way back, in which we remember that this is a time of great opening and possibility for abundance.
It’s known as ‘Schlissel Challah’ (that’s yiddish for ‘key challah’)
The Shabbat after Pesach, which is the Shabbat that precedes the month of Iyar, we hide a key in our challah.
This is meant to symbolize an opening of the gates of sustenance, which is represented by the challah.
There are lots of ways in which people practice this custom, mostly we put a key in the challah, but there are those who like to make the whole challah in the shape of a key, and some who place the key on top, adorning the challah.
In any case, however you choose to ‘key your challah,’ I bless you all that this coming year bring you all that you pray for and more, and may you have no worries about your nourishment and sustenance, may it fall like manna from heaven, whole and healing!