Transformations, in the past and present, in the face of challenges.

Letting the Challah Rise

Yesterday my son wanted to make challah. My first thought was ‘what a wonderful idea!’. So after naptime he was ready to get started. With great enthusiasm my son helped carry all the ingredients to the table and was more than eager to begin pouring and mixing, ‘by myself’. He climbed up on a chair and was ready to go. We dissolved the yeast, added eggs, honey and salt and were ready to begin mixing in the flour. Upon setting up my gigantic 20 lb mixer I realized we were missing the actual mixer attachment. I vaguely recalled this being used as a toy recently and started to look in my son’s play kitchen, but there was no mixer to be seen. Ok, ‘let’s try the hand mixer’ I told my son. I pulled out my high-tech hand mixer, plugged it in and began to mix. As more flour went in, the mixer was working harder and harder until it got completely tangled up in all the dough and would no longer budge. I felt hopeless and thought this was the end of our challah baking escapade. But wait! I vaguely recall that dough used to be made without such electronics, you know, back in the shtetl era. So I rolled up my sleeves and dug in; kneading, pulling, punching. I got quite the upper body workout.(By this point my son lost interest and was busy conducting an elaborate game involving his stuffed animals and refrigerator magnets.)

While I’m standing there covered in flour head to toe, with my arms deep in dough, I realized there was perhaps something to glean from this seemingly frustrating dough making situation. Sometimes I find myself aiming so high and having high expectations. I want to be the best mother ever and the best wife ever. I want everyone to be happy with me, accomplish all my tasks and still have time to grow and work on myself. Some days I achieve it all and some days I don’t. But sometimes on those days that I am sapped of energy I am able to just focus on the tiny happy things, and people, in my life. I cannot fold another pile of laundry or make that important phone call, but I can get on the floor and play with the cutest little 3-year-old around.

The mixer may not work, in fact both mixers may not work, but then I go back to basics. I let go of the gadgets and somehow the dough does rise to produce beautiful challahs and rolls. Sometimes we need to just forget about all the fancy gadgets and multitasking goals we have, and then we will truly ‘rise to the occasion’.

For more about how to conduct your daily life in a meaningful way please check out Rebbetzin Tziporah Heller’s Q&A class on Naaleh.com in which she addresses a question from a woman about how to fill her day meaningfully:

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Comments on: "Letting the Challah Rise" (3)

  1. Jill Cohn said:

    I too made Challah this past week and I used a hand mixer as well. Yes at some point when there is a lot of flour going in the bowl you have to mix it and knead it by hand. It is definitely a real upper body workout. My dough took quite a bit longer to rise since it was cold in the house. But the end results were gorgeous and delicious too. I will continue to make my own Challah every few weeks.

  2. This is really sweet!

    I’ve never used a handmixer in my life… for years, I’ve just made it by hand and it’s a great workout/massage. Since I play the guitar,I appreciate the workout it gives my hands because it makes my fingers stronger. And I like the back-to-basics idea of doing by hand. But then again, I don’t have a three year old to entertain ;)

    Lately, I’ve been cheating a bit though. I have a bread machine and sometimes I get the bread machine to knead the dough :) Then all I have to do is separate challah and braid it.
    Even so, doing it by hand makes it more meaningful. I can pour all my emotions into the kneading: anger, hope, love, frustration, joy, anticipation… it is so tactile and natural and gives me time to contemplate on things.

    I hope you bake many more beautiful challot with your son!

    Bivrachah,
    This Good Life

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