Saturday, January 18, 2020

To Life! A Challah of "Life"!

 Then Joseph said to his brothers, "Come forward to me."  
And when they came forward, he said, "I am your brother Joseph, he whom you sold into Egypt.  Now, do not be distressed or reproach yourselves because you sold me hither; it was to save life that God sent me ahead of you.

Genesis 45:4~5

(timing note:  On the Cycle of weekly readings we have entered into the book of Shemot, Exodus.   This post is from the last two readings from the book of Genesis!)

Chai means "life" in Hebrew.

The last parsha in the book of Genesis is called "Vayechi"  and the word Vayechi means "and he lived".  It is referring to the "life" of Jacob, who passes on from earthly life, and yet, like our foremother Sarah and the parsha "Chayei Sarah", which means "Life of Sarah", our righteous forefathers and mothers "live" on.

Interestingly, in the second to last parsha in the book of Genesis, which is called "Vayigash", I noticed that the Hebrew word "chai" , for "life", was appearing a lot!! According to my count I found this root word "chai" NINE times in the parsha Vayigash.  That is a lot especially as Chai, like other of the deeply meaningful words like Shalom, is a word that has deep spiritual significance. 

Hence, when I saw its appearance so many times, I felt moved to make a challah that expresses "Chai" or "Life'".  Especially as the tribes are going down to Egypt and into a place of darkness in the readings we are in, I was inspired to make this challah at this junction between the book of Genesis and the book of Exodus.  The Torah is a Torah of "Life".

When I put the word and the challah together, it also occured to me the connection to the "Bread of Life"!!  Everyone who eats this challah, may they know the Bread of Life, Yeshua!

Below you can find my recent "Challah-cast" about the "Chai" Challah.
Please join me on this newest "Challah-cast" adventure if you are moved to and watch the latest upload!! 
 It  is fun of doing the Challah-casts , "on the spot" and in the spirit--- things got a little changed from the original plan, as the dough was shaped and formed!!  Enjoy and hope it blesses you and that there might be something to learn or feel free to share anything that is on your heart about the parsha or any encouraging or "life-giving" thoughts!!  Blessings and Love and thank you for your visit!

Chai Chai Chai! Am Yisrael Chai!!!
Life, Life, Life, Israel nation is alive!
Adding a Life-filled link to this song, thanks to our blog friend Duta!!


You will teach me the path of life.
In Your presence is perfect joy;
delights are ever in Your right hand.
Psalm 16:11 

 תּוֹדִיעֵנִי,  אֹרַח חַיִּים
שֹׂבַע שְׂמָחוֹת, אֶת-פָּנֶיךָ;    נְעִמוֹת בִּימִינְךָ נֶצַח

Be strong, be strong, and let us strengthen one another!!
*Finishing the book of Genesis!  
words that are said after finishing reading each book of the Torah 

Monday, January 13, 2020

Parsha Vayigash and Vayechi Postcards

The Hebrew word "Chai" means "Life"
 Yeshua said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life!
Whoever believes in Me, even if he dies, shall live.  And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die.  Do you believe this?

John 11:25~26

There the tribes go up, the tribes of the LORD-- as a testimony to Israel --to praise the Name of the LORD.  For there thrones of judgement are set up, the thrones of the house of David.  Pray for the peace of Jerusalem -- may those who love you be at peace!

Psalm 122:4~6

Ending the book of Genesis,
Chazak Chazak, Venitchazek!!*

Be strong, be strong, and may we strengthen one another!!

*Parsha Vayigash and Parsha Vayechi are the last two Torah portions in the book of Genesis; these are the words we say after reading each book of the Torah!

(PS stay tuned for a post to follow on this topic and the Hebrew word "Chai"!)

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Let there be Light! Star of David Challah and Challah-cast!

In visions of the night God said to Israel, "Jacob, Jacob."
"Hineni," he said.
I  am God, the God of your father," He said.  "Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for I will turn you into a great nation there.  I Myself will also most certainly bring you up.  Joseph will put his hands on your eyes."                   Genesis 46: 2~4

In the Torah readings this week we are already coming to the end of the book of Genesis. 

The book of Genesis starts with the Creation.  Through His word, God  brings light into the world and forms and creates all things.  This time when reading Genesis I am noticing how the book of Genesis ends with creating light from darkness as well in the sense that He is bringing into existence a new light that will be created from the darkness of exile--- the nation of Israel.

In the light of all that we are reading, in this Challah-cast from the Parsha Miketz (sorry I am already a few weeks behind!)  I chose to focus on making a "Star of David" challah for the Shabbat of Chanukah! (already a few weeks past, but remember, we are to bring our light in to the continuing the days!)

If you are just joining in, The Challah-casts are my new series of looking at the weekly parsha and connecting to it in some way to the making of a challah.  It is always a learning experience for me to do them and find connections to the parsha, and to somehow put it together into an upload!!  I hope  there would be something in them that would bring light to you!!

In the post below, we have been talking about the importance of "unity" and reconciliation between brothers.  Remember, that kiss between justice and shalom.  A kiss that took 14 years in the making for Joseph and his brothers, and a kiss that is still thousands of the years in the making that is yet to take place when the Shalom is restored between all brothers (and sisters) in Yeshua, the true light who lights all others, who is the Light of the World. 

Blessings and Shavu'a Tov and a light-filled week to you! And by the time I am posting this, Shabbat Shalom!!


But you, O LORD, are a shield about me,
my glory, He who holds my head high.
Psalm 3:3

Deliverance is the LORD's YOur blessing be upon Your people!  Selah.  Psalm 3:9

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Justice and Shalom Kiss!

  צֶדֶק וְשָׁלוֹם נָשָׁקוּ

His help is very near to those who fear Him,
to make His glory dwell in our land.
Faithfulness and truth meet;                
justice and well-being kiss. 
                                                            Psalm 85:10~11
I get excited when I see the word "well-being" in scripture as I know that it most probably is "Shalom" in the original!! When I read this scripture this morning I got so excited to see the Hebrew that indeed it is Shalom!!  I recently started keeping a notebook of when I come across the word "Shalom" in scriptures, and this verse surprised me to see with the special "kiss" between justice and shalom.

Justice = Tzadek and  well-being= Shalom

The Hebrew word for "kiss" is new to me, so I just looked for a few scripturew with the same word, and lo and behold, wouldn't you know, there is a verse in our very parsha this week where Joseph "kissed all his brothers and wept upon them; only then were his brothers able to talk to him."  Genesis 45:15

וַיְנַשֵּׁק לְכָל-אֶחָיו, וַיֵּבְךְּ עֲלֵהֶם; וְאַחֲרֵי כֵן, דִּבְּרוּ אֶחָיו אִתּוֹ

Shalom was restored with a kiss!!

 Remember in the beginning of meeting Joseph and his brothers the Torah tells us they couldn't speak to each other and there was "no shalom".  (Genesis 37:4)

 וַיִּרְאוּ אֶחָיו, כִּי-אֹתוֹ אָהַב אֲבִיהֶם מִכָּל-אֶחָיו--וַיִּשְׂנְאוּ, אֹתוֹ; וְלֹא יָכְלוּ
 דַּבְּרוֹ לְשָׁלֹם

 Justice and shalom, come together in this scene, when seen in the light of the psalm!!
Its so interesting and Torah-ly fascinating with the words used to see how at first the brothers couldn't speak to each other as there was "no shalom" before the episode of them throwing Joseph in a pit.  And years later after when they meet again after the brothers have had to understand the "injustice" that they did towards Joseph, it literally says the same word "talk", that after they kissed and wept, they were able to talk to each other again!!
(note:  always just a "caveat" that these are my personal explorations in Torah and in my study that I share here as a "journal", so I am sure there is much more depth in the meanings, as I just share these discoveries at the "level" that I am at!)

It was a quiet morning with the light streaming in, and the fragrance of daffodils, in Japanese suisen, was filling the room.  Flowers given me by my friend yesterday, the daffodils release a delicate scent that brings out His fragrance of Shalom!! It even made the rose revive.  The soft sweet scent you wouldn't think it had that strength, but indeed the rose was wilted before the daffodils came.

A subtitle of this post, the fragrance of Shalom!!

And speaking of Shalom, I want to thank all of my blog friends who left a comment on my Shalom in Psalms giveaway post!! I am happy to announce there were two winners !!   Since the first year I did it, the prize was not redeemed, so this year I decided to make it  2.  Congratulations to Joyful and Hobbyloes, whose name was drawn from a Blossoming Challah bag with the names of those who left a comment on that post!!  I will hope to do other giveaways as it was fun to have the first one successfully go through!!

Blessings and well-being to all who read this.  Shalom Aleichem!
Peace be with you!
May justice and well-being kiss, as truth springs up from the earth and the LORD bestows His bounty!!

Truth springs up from the earth;
justice looks down from heaven.
The LORD also bestows His bounty;
our land yields its produce.
Justice goes before Him
as He sets out on His way.
                                                   Psalm 85:  12~14

After writing the post, I opened up my copy of "Shalom in Psalms" to Psalm 85, which is the Psalm I talk about in this post. Apparently I am not the first to "discover" this beautiful Psalms 85 verse about Justice and Shalom kissing!! Though when I came across it today, its the excitement to discover a verse "for the first time" that it feels like it was there just for us to discover it!

This is a quote from Shalom in Psalms, beautifully referring to the verse about the attributes of Shalom and Tzedek kissing each other, and the commentator's prayer. 

O God, You have been restoring more and more of Your people to the land.  Now we appeal to You to revive more and more of Your people with Your Ruach.  Surely chesed and emet meet together in Messiah.  Surely tzekek and shalom kiss each other in Yeshua.  Revive us, ADONAI!
   Quoted from Shalom in Psalms, p. 202, commentary by Glenn Blank, I enlarged here for emphasis of the verse
 and we all say...Amen!!

 PS a Challah and Cherry Blossoms Shalom QUIZ for anyone who might like to try!

We know Yeshua greets his disciples with "Shalom Aleichem",  Peace be with you, in many instances in the Brit Chadeshah (New Covenant) scriptures.  The quiz question is:  where in the Torah do we see this expression "Shalom (a)Lechem?

Hint: It also pertains to a recent reading !!

Hint:  It is said by someone who we see to have many parallels to Yeshua, so I found it exciting to find him use this greeting as it was a connection to our Messiah's greeting.

I will put the answer in the comments section in the post below so those who want to try it can check it!! (PS any Hebrew experts please correct me if I make any Hebrew mistakes or misunderstandings!! I am learning as I go along!)

Monday, December 30, 2019

Hanukkah diary--Hanukkah encounters of the Divine kind (reflections and a story from the 7th night of Hanukkah)

The lifebreath of man is the lamp of the LORD
Revealing all his inmost parts.
                                               Proverbs 20:27

(note:  still catching up some Hanukkah posts!!  this some notes I wrote from the 6th or7th night)

The light of Chanukah is not just any light.  It is the light of the Shekinah, the divine light, the light of the Divine presence that we recall from the miracle of Hanukkah those many years ago in 167 BC from the oil that burned in the re-dedicated Holy Temple after the victory of the Maccabees. 

The small band of Maccabees stood up for their faith in the God of Israel and their Judaism in walking in His ways, and from refusing to give in to the ways of the "world", of the Greeks, and fighting for the Torah for their life,  even though they didn't have a chance in terms of "numbers", they had strength in God.  He gave them a victory over the Greek army!!!  He gave the stronger into the hands of the weak.  As even the weakest is given strength in the One who gives us strength!

While the lights are lit, and especially for the first 30 minutes, the Jewish sages say that we are not to do anything to use the light for any other purpose,  but just to look at the light.  There are many things said about the light of Hanukkah! One is that it is said to be a concentration of the hidden light of Creation.

On each night of Hanukkah you can see that the light is increasing.  You light first one on the first night, then two on the second, three, ....and then seven , then eight lights at last are lit!! Its very exciting to think of how the one days light spread out and expanded over 8 nights.  There are said to be two kinds of light, one the "physical " light that can be defined by its properties and physical qualities measurable to the eye, and the other is light of the Divine kind.  Like the fire of the burning bush,  which kept on burning but wasn't consumed.  And the light of the Hanukkah miracle, which was "measurable" to one nights amount, but spread out over eight.  Even when we light the 8 lights of Hanukkah with the one "shamash" candle, we have a sense of what looks like a tiny flame can light all the others.

So when I set out tonight with my menorah in hand, I prayed for some kind of miracle or divine encounter so that I would be able to share about this amazing miracle and more than that, so that I could share about this amazing God!!! And lo and behold, He gave me an encounter!! I returned to the "tent" that you can see in this post below, where I had a little Chanukah party on the third night.  Tonight though I didn't have anyone with me, I decided to bring the menorah there and "light"it.  The dome "tents" that are set up there in our city made me think of Abraham and how he and Sarah always anticipated for someone to come into their tent so they could share about the God of Israel, and I had a flicker of confidence, almost a mustard seed of faith, that there might just be a guest to the tent!!

So you know what happened?!  I had not one guest, but three!!! It was a wonderful Hanukkah encounter in the tent with the menorah!! First a woman passed by before I even settled in, I hadn't yet taken out the menorah and she peeked in to see if there was anyone in, and she actually asked me if she could come in!! She beat me to it! I would have asked her! It was just that exact timing that the Holy Spirit breathed on the moment, so that it would work out that she would come in!!  She said she had time before her bus and wanted to have a place to wait!!   She asked if I mind if she had a sweet snack she brought, and offered me one.  (guess what it was?  you guessed! a "red bean" sweet! )   So it was my moment to ask if she would mind if I "light" the menorah with her, and she said she'd like that!!  And wanted to know about what it was about!! Then I took out the menorah from my "sack" (yes, thinking of the sack with the goblet! in Benjamin's sack, this week's parsha Miketz, Genesis 44:12)).  And when I was about to "light " the Shamash candle (on the battery powered menorah),  a young woman and man stopped to look into our tent. Both I and the other woman asked if they would like to join us, as we were just starting to light the menorah!!

The young man and woman lit up and seemed excited about this gathering, and they entered into our Hanukkah adventure!! This was God!! Now there were four of us settled in around the menorah, and I was able to share with them about Him and the miracle of Hanukah!!!  I made a prayer and a blessing.  Even though it wasn't the real candles, it was the real Presence of the Holy Spirit, so we were able to feel His light expanding even beyond the transparent confines of the tent!! It was wonderful!! I even had a chance to pray for the young woman, and in that way introducing her to Yeshua, in whose name we pray.  He showed me a lesson of the Maccabbees.  How when we step out to shine our light for His glory, He will meet us and in the power of His light we become strong!!

I really hope I can meet the people I shared Hanukkah with tonite again, but most importantly, they had an encounter with Him, with God who is the Light !

Wishing all a Happy New Year, may we go forth with the light revealed from Hanukkah and may the year and each of our lives be filled with the pure oil of the Light of Messiah Yeshua!!

(ps please pardon my spelling of the word Hanukkah in so many different ways, I know there are several ways to spell it and I just couldn't settle on one, and left it the way I typed it out! thank you, from the editorial staff at Challah and Cherry Blossoms! Much love!)

Saturday, December 28, 2019

Nes Gadol Haya Sham, Hebrew Letters Challah! Parsha Vayashev Challah-cast

"Nun" on the dreidel stands for
"NES"  which means"Miracle"

Gimel on the dreidel stands for "Gadol" which means "Great"
"Hey" on the dreidel stands for "Haya" which means "Occured"
"Shin" on the dreidel stands for  "Sham" which means "There" .  Remember, on the dreidels in Israel this letter would be "Pey" which stands for "PO", which means "HERE"!

Nes Gadol Haya Sham, in Challah!!

Hebrew letters in challah is not what you would see on the typical Shabbat table, but our God sometimes asks us to go out of the typical!  As its something I love, so He is giving me the go ahead  in such a way on the challot these past weeks, from a "Shalom" challah to the "letters on the dreidel"  challah in a recent Chanukah challah, this one to go with the parsha Vayashev.

As I was making the letters,  I learned a lot as I shaped each one, even consulting a book on Hebrew Calligraphy to get the basic strokes right, and then while the dough was rising checking a little about the meanings of the letters, and looking for connections with reading about Joseph in our parsha from the week.

My "kitchen" and rooms became like a Chanukah Challah studio in the days of Chanukah.

Tonight is the seventh night of Hanukkah. Or Chanukah.  There are a few ways to spell it.   The CH sound in Chanukah has the same first letter as the CH in Challah.

I will share my challah-cast in which I make the "Nes Gadol Haya Sham" in Challah!  if you are moved to watch it please do and enjoy!!  It has some fun twists and spins, and a little learning as I go along!

Hope you enjoy it if you have a chance to take a break to view it during your end of the year cleaning and winding down, and that you might even learn something new and hope it blesses you!!  

Blessings and Shalom!



Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Let your light shine!♡

latkes with sour cream and applesauce, is a de- light of Hanukkah!

For with You is the source of life---. 
By Your light we shall see light.

Psalm  36:9

You are the light of the world.  A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.  Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a basket.  Instead, they put it on a lampstand so it gives light to all in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before men so that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.           Matthew 5: 14 ~16

A few scenes from the first few days of Hanukkah here.  Each night there is ever increasing light as the candles are lit adding each day to the light from day one to eight.
On this holiday we are to go out and shine our light!
Blessings and Happy Hannukah!
Don't hide your lamp under the table!

Light and dreidel -- Sharing Hanukkah

"Light and Dreidel"  is the name of a small community exhibition and workshop I had at a community gallery this past Sunday,  to share about Hanukkah.   Visitors were invited to  make a "dreidel" and enjoy an afternoon of  relaxed meeting , fellowship,  playing the dreidel game,  and learning a little about the festival of Light, which is Hanukkah!

A dreidel is a special game that is played at Hanukkah with a four sided spinning "top" that has four Hebrew letters written on it to represent "A Great Miracle Happened There", and as you know that is the Hanukkah miracle of the light that the pure oil that miraculously lasted long enough for 8 nights that should just have been enough for one .  

I love Hannukah,  though I must say I don't quite know how to spell it.

You can make a dreidel in two ways at the workshop, either out of paper clay or using origami paper "straws".

Of course, the idea of making a paper clay dreidel comes from the song! Which we sang.  In Japanese and English!

And the idea for the  dreidel craft from straws, comes from a creative Jewish Mom's blog, and it is This Post.  I love her creative and colorful Hannukah ideas, and when I saw it  I had an inspiration for my "Made in Japan" variation here, which is to use origami paper to make "straws".

Just roll the origami paper first into "straws" and enjoy all the variegated patterns and colors to make a dreidel decoration of many colors or many different colored dreidels. Because we were reading the Parsha about Joseph, it made me think of "Joseph and the many colored dreidels".

Please tune in  for a related Challah-cast from this week, all new,  HERE!

The original special edition challah in the header above will just be for the days of Hanukkah! It spells the letters on the dreidel which as you know stand for "A Great Miracle Happened There"!

Much love and Hanukkah blessings!!


I was so happy to share about making a dreidel with the children!!  A few adults made one too, and when you make a dreidel as an adult, you feel like a child again!!
This paper clay dreidel was made by an adult who stopped by.  We found a new idea, to make the letters on the dreidel out of cut origami paper.

As part of the "light" theme, a photo that I took in Israel , Sunrise over the Sea of Galilee, and of the Menorah that will go in the Holy Temple.

A Great Miracle Happened There--this is what the letters on the dreidel stand for, Nes Gadol, Haya, Sham.   Sharing about the miracle of Hannukah at a small community exhibit here in Oita.  This Origami craft Menorah I made inspired by this creative Hannukah Craft HERE that uses Straws to make an adorable menorah.

Reading the Hebrew letters from Right to Left, they stand for "Nes Gadol Haya Sham", a great miracle happened there.  The dreidels in Israel have one difference, there it says "A great miracle happened HERE"!
This little girl made her first dreidel.  She made it out of clay!
Sharing Hanukkah with children was a complete joy!! This is one of the new friends I made! She took home a little dreidel after we read together from the Little Dreidel book.

Reading this book, with a Japanese translation handy, that I translated last year with the help of my Japanese teacher!!  Its a fun book because it is all in "verse" to the Dreidel song tune, so even if the words aren't all understood, the pictures and the "song' are fun to share!

Another craft using origami paper rolled into "straws" inspired from this Dreidel Craft HERE!  Thank you to Creative Jewish Mom for the inspirations on her blog!
Sea of Galilee sunrise♡

Yeshua, You are welcome in this place!!

And He called a child to Himself, set him in the midst of them, and said, 
"Amen, I tell you, unless you turn and become like children, you shall never enter the kingdom of heaven.  
Whoever then shall humble himself like this child, this one is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.  And whoever welcomes one such child in My name, 
welcomes Me.

Matthew 18:2~5