A Bisl Torah – What Do You Knead?

November 10, 2022
Richard T. Nowitz/Getty Images

This week, Sinai Akiba Academy put on their annual challah bake. We gathered, put the various ingredients together to mix our dough and schmoozed while the dough had time to rise. While challah making is a well-known Jewish ritual, I think we forget the mindfulness embedded in this ancient tradition.

This week, for me, it is all about the kneading. How do we expend energy, anger, disappointment, or frustration in our constantly moving world? Many of us choose exercise, breathing, meditation or even prayer as vehicles to pause, reflect and reengage. But kneading dough shouldn’t be discounted. The pounding, shaping, rolling, and forming allows for an integration of physical, emotional, and spiritual worlds. This week, what do you knead into your challah? Are you kneading the tears shed from loss or anguish? Are you kneading the joy experienced from celebration and community? Are you kneading the questions faced with an unknown future or are you kneading the comfort that comes with knowing Shabbat is just around the corner? What do you knead?

Challah isn’t just a delicious Jewish food. Challah is an immersive Jewish experience. We remind ourselves that Shabbat is an opportunity to take what the week has given us and for just a moment, be still. The events and emotions of the week can be externalized, taken off our shoulders, kneaded into the bread that sits before us. It doesn’t mean the problems of the world have faded away. But it does mean we are given a few precious hours to shift focus, count our blessings and make room for the week that is about to unfold.

To prepare for Shabbat, the very question we must ask ourselves is the following: What do you knead? The dough seems ready to receive. And in return, perhaps, we will have the space needed to grow.

Shabbat Shalom

Rabbi Nicole Guzik is a rabbi at Sinai Temple. She can be reached at her Facebook page at Rabbi Nicole Guzik or on Instagram @rabbiguzik. For more writings, visit Rabbi Guzik’s blog section from Sinai Temple’s website.

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