Challah on the Shabbat During Passover?

April 18, 2014

Every week, Jody Hirsh, the JCC's Judaic Education Director, provides a Judaic message that is featured at the top of the JCC's weekly email newsletter. Below is the Shabbat message for Friday, April 18, 2014.

Challah on the Shabbat During Passover?

Of course...

But it isn’t what you think. Since we are commanded to eat Matzah during the whole week of Passover (8 days in traditional homes outside of Israel), we clearly can’t have a regular yeast based challah! What IS Challah, after all? In the days after the destruction of the Temple by the Romans in the year 70, the Challah symbolizes the sacrifices that were offered in the Temple – including the bread sacrifice. To make Challah kosher for ritual, the cook must take a portion of the raw dough and throw it into the fire to be burned up. (For more information about the origin of Challah, click here to see the JCC Shabbat Message from November 15, 2013)

However, we’re told in Exodus, chapter 13:6-8 (and other places in the Torah):

Seven days shall you eat unleavened bread... Throughout the seven days, unleavened bread shall be eaten; no leavened bread shall be found with you, and no leaven shall be found in all your territory. And you shall explain to your son on that day, ‘it is because of what the Lord did for me when I went free from Egypt.’

And yet... we’re expected to eat challah during the Sabbath as a symbol of the sacrifices! What’s a Jew to do? The answer to this conundrum is... the Matzah IS the Challah! Just like the Shabbat Challah has a portion separated from it that makes it proper to be served on the Sabbath, so does the matzah. Since almost no one bakes their own matzah at home, the companies that make matzah do this at the bakery. If you study the labels on your box of matzah at home, you’ll find a statement in the fine print that says “Challah is taken” or some other language to the effect that the laws of Challah have been followed. That means that the bakers have separated a piece of the dough when preparing the matzah, making the matzah useable for the Sabbath.

Shabbat Shalom, and Happy Passover.