Saturday, June 17, 2017



ADONAI spoke to Moses saying, "Speak to Bnei-Yisrael.  Say to them:  When you enter the land to which I am taking you, and you eat some of the food of the land, you are to offer a portion to ADONAI.  You are to offer a cake from the first of your ground-up meal as an offering from your threshing floor--so you are to lift up.  Throughout your generations to come, you are to give this offering from the first of your ground-up meal.

--Numbers 15:17~21 TLV

This week`s Torah portion ( parsha Shelach Lecha)  is  very exciting for a person who makes Challah.

In this week`s reading we see one of the places* the word `Challah` is mentioned in the Torah!

It comes after the episode of the sin of the spies, where only Joshua and Caleb get to enter the land and the other ten and their generation are banned from entering the Promised Land. (Numbers Chapters 13 and 14).

Events in each weeks parsha and how they are set together give us amazing `lessons` to study in each week`s Torah.  And for each person, the Torah portion speaks to us in different ways. 

For me, in the middle of all the intrigue of the spies, the tears, and the knowing about this great sin, how was it that all my eyes could see was those three Hebrew letters that spell Challah! I got so excited to see the word Challah (חַלָּה) in the Hebrew text of the Torah.

You can see the word Challah in the scripture below.  It refers to the `cake` in the English translation.

כ  רֵאשִׁית, עֲרִסֹתֵכֶם--חַלָּה, תָּרִימוּ תְרוּמָה:  כִּתְרוּמַת גֹּרֶן כֵּן תָּרִימוּ אֹתָהּ

20 Of the first of your dough ye shall set apart a cake for a gift; as that which is set apart of the threshing-floor, so shall ye set it apart.   --Numbers (Bamidbar)  15:20

 and from there comes the mitzvot of continuing in all the generations to come,

כא  מֵרֵאשִׁית, עֲרִסֹתֵיכֶם, תִּתְּנוּ לַיהוָה, תְּרוּמָה--לְדֹרֹתֵיכֶם.

21 Of the first of your dough ye shall give unto the LORD a portion for a gift throughout your generations.  --Numbers (Bamidbar) 15:21

I was intrigued to see the word challah  here as the first offering `cake` of bread, the first part of the dough, and to see where in Torah the word comes from.  The word challah appears before this, as,  when talking about the showbreads,  where it says `cakes` in English (as in Leviticus 24:5).  In that case and in other places in Exodus it was for the special priestly offering.
In this case in the Scripture in Numbers 15, it is an offering to be made from each household.

There are rules in Jewish Rabbinic law for `taking challah`, which come from this scripture.   My challah doesn`t qualify because I don`t use a large enough quantity of dough and I am not in the Land of Israel.

But I can `take` away a lesson from this and see the challah itself as an offering to ADONAI in each week, and lift it up to Him, as the first food (reminiscient of the first fruits offering we make on Shavuot) that we will bless for our Shabbat meal!

And speaking of `first`, the other word in Hebrew that I notice in this scripture is `reshit` and means  `first`.  It  is the same root as Bereshit, which means In the BeginningBereshit is the name of the first book of Torah, Genesis.  Bereshit is the very first word in the first line of the Torah.

Returning to Numbers 15:20 where `challah` appears, can you see the word `reshit`, or first, beginning.  It is the word I highlighted in pink:

כ  רֵאשִׁית, עֲרִסֹתֵכֶם--חַלָּה, תָּרִימוּ תְרוּמָה:  כִּתְרוּמַת גֹּרֶן כֵּן תָּרִימוּ אֹתָהּ  
21 Of the first of your dough ye shall give unto the LORD a portion for a gift throughout your generations. *
It is the same word that is in the beginning of the whole Torah.  Can you see it there, Be-reshit, In the beginning, again I will just highlight where you read `reshit` :
א  בְּרֵאשִׁית, בָּרָא אֱלֹהִים, אֵת הַשָּׁמַיִם, וְאֵת הָאָרֶץ. 
1 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.  *

The flour that we use for bread is from G-d, and from the earth that He created.  In a sense, as we offer the challah, we are taking something from earth --from Him!--,   and offering it to heaven--to Him, through this act of creation (the `last` act of creation in the week!),  each week, as we prepare to enter into His time and His rest.

 As I write this I am reminded that once Shabbat begins, we are to cease from all acts of creation, and rest in His presence, to remember that He rested and ceased from the work of Creation on the Shabbat!  The bread always seems to come alive in those hours of rising and anticipating!  When we eat the bread on Shabbat, we see indeed that it is good! It is His goodness that we taste and see!!

 טַעֲמוּ וּרְאוּ, כִּי-טוֹב יְהוָה;    אַשְׁרֵי הַגֶּבֶר, יֶחֱסֶה-בּוֹ.

9 O consider and see that the LORD is good; happy is the man that taketh refuge in Him.

---Psalm 34:9

And now to come full circle and `round out` this post, back to the sin of the spies.  It is said that the reason the commandment for taking challah and the commandment for wearing tzitzit (fringes on the garment) come in this same parsha, is because these commandments are to remind us to keep His commandments.  When we sin we are far from G-d.  We don`t believe in His promises, and take hold of our own beliefs rather than see His Greatness.  That separation is the great sin.  We can shake our heads at the spies, but rather may they help us to see our own sins and learn from them. (I recall Yeshua`s words in Matthew  7:5 when I judge another for their sin, first I have to look at the `plank` in my own eye).  So it is interesting that separating the Challah in a sense brings us back to ADONAI!! This act of taking the first part of the dough is a reminder each week that says, YES, I will do all that You command!  I will return to You ! It  is also an acknowledgement of the Land, the Promised Land that the ten disobedient spies did not enter.  They spoke badly about the Apple of G-d`s eye, the Land of Israel.  For me this is a lesson in going deeper in my heart to learn about Israel, to know it from G-d`s heart of Love, and to acknowledge the real promise of entering the Land.  Israel Is real! (that is not a line from the Torah, those are words that came to me recently!).  

How did the Parsha speak to you in this week? (*For the weekly readings, see `Link to the weekly readings` on the right sidebar!)

My prayer in this post is this... Like Matriarch Sarah, whose Challah was said to stay fresh from Sabbath to Sabbath because of the divine light that she contained from her Righteousness and Faith, may we too yearn to deepen our Faith and  Righteousness as women of G-d.  May we feed people with the `bread`  that comes from our Messiah Yeshua who lives in us, and may it nourish many!!!

Love to you!
Blessings and Shalom!


For more about the Mitzvot and Meaning of Challah,  Here is one Link I referred to, and it also tells about the specifics in Jewish practice of taking Challah from the first part of the dough.

welcoming the sabbath light

*note:  The Hebrew scriptures in this post and their English translations are referenced from HERE, Mechon Mamre 

Other references to the word Challah in the Scriptures include:
Exodus 29:2, Exodus 29:23,
2Samuel 6:19 (below!), King David giving out `cakes` to celebrate the return of the Ark of the Covenant!!

 Please let me know others as well!  

יט  וַיְחַלֵּק לְכָל-הָעָם לְכָל-הֲמוֹן יִשְׂרָאֵל, לְמֵאִישׁ וְעַד-אִשָּׁה, לְאִישׁ חַלַּת לֶחֶם אַחַת, וְאֶשְׁפָּר אֶחָד וַאֲשִׁישָׁה אֶחָת; וַיֵּלֶךְ כָּל-הָעָם, אִישׁ לְבֵיתוֹ.

19 And he dealt among all the people, even among the whole multitude of Israel, both to men and women, to every one a cake of bread, and a cake made in a pan, and a sweet cake. So all the people departed every one to his house. 

2 Samuel 6:19

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