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Challah for the Soul, Parshat Terumah

Rosh Chodesh Adar, 5778

So here’s the thing with challah dough… every single week it comes out slightly different.

I use the same recipe each time (you know the one… it’s in my cookbook :) and it’s always great!

But different each time.

And I think I know the reason why. It’s the same reason that when I lead a challah bake of 2,000 women—each one using the exact same pre-measured ingredients and following my instructions—every single dough turns out completely unique. And I mention this each time to the women - I say “look at your dough, and look around you” and each time there is a col

lective gasp - every woman’s dough is totally unique. I think it’s because we put ourselves into the dough, and each one of us is so unique and individual, of course no two could be the same.

But even my own dough turns out differently each week.. and that too, makes perfect sense. In this week’s Torah portion we are instructed by Hashem to “make for Me a dwelling place, and I will reside within them” Our sages understand this to mean that the dwelling place is not a single place—in one narrowly defined location—rather a larger collective village of dwellings, each one of us a temple within it. Every one of us can be a home for G-dliness, a place wherein the Divine presence dwells comfortably. If we just make the space. In a home that is a temple, the Shabbat table is our altar, and the challah we place upon it- our offering. Challah is a terumah - a gift - that we offer. When we are instructed to bring offerings we are told to “bring from ourselves an offering”… for this is the definition of a true offering, something that comes from deep within ourselves. This is how we nurture, and give love, and it is reflected in the challah we create and serve. Today we begin the new month of Adar, a month which reveals previously hidden layers of joy.

We gratefully peel away the many heavy layers of winter, and begin to find our deep inborn joy. The Zohar tells us that when we serve Hashem with joy, that joy is reflected back into our lives. And how does this joy manifest? As open, revealed blessings. Not the kind we have to dig into, dealing with a whole lot of dirt and debris to find the good. No, this reflected joy appears to us as the blessing that makes us clap our hands in spontaneous delight, the brand of good which is transparent and obvious to all. That is the kindness we receive in our life when we offer of ourselves with pure joy. Joyfulness is a choice, every moment. When we choose to be happy, it is reflected in our challah dough, and in all the work of our hands… and it comes right back to us. Let’s choose ecstatic joyfulness this month, this day, this moment.

Let us each be a place in which the Divine dwells delightfully.

May we merit to nurture those we love from this place of joy, and see it reflected in all the blessings that pour unfiltered, and untarnished, straight into our challah dough and into our lives!

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