Weekly Shabbat Messages

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, January 23, 2015Click here to view our archived Shabbat messages.

Covering the Challah

On Shabbat the order of blessings is as follows:

1) Blessing the Candles before the sun sets

2) At the Shabbat Dinner table, the KIDDUSH (The blessing over wine)

3) At the dinner table, the MOTZI (the blessing over the bread) follows the KIDDUSH

There’s an interesting legal discussion about the order of blessings at the table. Technically, before a full meal, the only requirement is the blessing over bread, which is said for bread and collectively any other foods that are eaten at the meal. However, on Shabbat, there are two blessings: The blessing over the wine, and one over Challah (the Sabbath loaf). Since the Kiddush makes specific references to the Sabbath, it comes first since it actually marks the festive Shabbat meal. The blessing over bread, however, is a more important blessing! It’s said at every full meal in which bread is served. How could it be “shamed” by coming second? The rabbis decided that the solution is to cover the Chalah so it wouldn’t be shamed. Thus, the tradition of “Challah Covers” was born. A Challah Cover can be anything from a paper napkin to an elaborately embroidered work of fabric art (see below).

 

A story is told about the famous Rabbi Yisroel Salanter (1810 – 1883). Rabbi Yisroel was once stranded in Kovno, Poland, for Shabbat. Everyone wanted to host him, but he chose to spend the Shabbat at the home of a baker who had no children to feed, so he would not take away anyone's portion of food. The baker was an observant Jew but hardly a man of intelligence. As he ushered his esteemed guest into his house, he shouted at his wife, "Why are the challahs not covered? How many times must I remind you to cover the challahs?" The poor woman, recognizing her distinguished guest, hurried to cover the challahs with tears in her eyes. When the baker asked Rabbi Yisroel to do the honors by reciting the Kiddush, the Rabbi first asked him, "Can you tell me why we cover the challahs?" "Of course," replied the baker. "Every child knows the answer. When there are many different foods on the table, the first blessing is always made over the bread, after which no other blessing need be made. On Friday night, however, the first blessing has to be made over the wine. In order not to shame the challah, who expects the blessing to be made over her, we must cover her over until after the sanctification of the wine." Rabbi Yisroel looked at the baker incredulously. "Why do your ears not hear what your mouth is saying?" he asked. "Do you think that our Jewish tradition does not understand that a piece of dough has no feelings and would never become embarrassed? Understand that our laws are trying to sensitize us to the feelings of human beings, our friends, our neighbors, and especially our wives!"

Shabbat Shalom


 

 

Past Shabbat Messages

Shabbat & Secret Jews - Friday, April 26, 2013

Out of the Land of Heaven - Friday, May 3, 2013

Almost Shavuot - Friday, May 10, 2013

Cakes on Shabbat - Friday, May 17, 2013

Dressing Up for Shabbat (Part I) - Friday, May 24, 2013

Dressing Up for Shabbat (Part II) - Friday, May 31, 2013

Solomon's Temple and the Shabbat - Friday, June 7, 2013

Shabbat Starts When? - Friday, June 14, 2013 & June 13, 2014

Making Commandments Beautiful: Part I - Friday, June 21, 2013

Making Commandments Beautiful: Part 2 - Friday, June 28, 2013

Making Commandments Beautiful: Part 3 - Friday, July 5, 2013

Crypto Jews and the Shabbat - Friday, July 12, 2013

Shabbat Nachamu... The Sabbath of Consolation - Friday, July 19, 2013

Bialik and Kabbalat Shabbat - Friday, July 26, 2013

Angels and Shabbat - Friday, August 2, 2013

Shabbat in the Land of the Midnight Sun - Friday, August 9, 2013

Shabbat in Jerusalem As Told By Jody-  Friday, August 16, 2013

Shabbat in Jerusalem II As Told By Jody - Friday, August 23, 2013

The Streets of Jerusalem - Friday, August 30, 2013

The Final Heat – Closing in on Rosh Hashanah and Shabbat - Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Shabbat and Yom Kippur - Friday, September 13, 2013

Species, Species and More Species - Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Shabbat Breishit - Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Evening & Morning - Friday, October 4, 2013

Singing and the Sabbath - Friday, October 11, 2013 & Friday, May 9, 2014

The Rainy Season - Friday, October 18, 2013

The Triennial Torah Cycle - Friday, October 25, 2013

The Sabbath and the Temple - Friday, November 1, 2013

It Is All In the Timing - Friday, November 8, 2013

Challah - Friday, November 15, 2013

Why is the Challah Braided? - Friday, November 22, 2013

Shabbat, Thanksgivukkah and Beyond - Friday, November 29, 2013

Carrying on Shabbat - Friday, December 6, 2013

Eruv Art - Friday, December 13, 2013

Celebrating the Sabbath in Darkness - Friday, December 20, 2013

Celebrating the Sabbath in Darkness Continued - Friday, December 27, 2013

The First Shabbat of the Year - Friday, January 3, 2014

Shabbat Shirah - Friday, January 10, 2014

Shabbat and Trees - Friday, January 17, 2014

Strangers in our Midst - Friday, January 24, 2014

The Ten Commandments, Part I - Friday, January 31, 2014

The Ten Commandments, Part II - Friday, February 7, 2014

Shabbat, Babylonians, Tacitus, and the Communists - Friday, February 14, 2014

The Shabbat Umbrella - Friday, February 21, 2014

Lighting Shabbat Candles - Friday, February 28, 2014

Philip Roth and Shabbat - Friday, March 7, 2014

Shabbat Zachor - Friday, March 14, 2014

Shabbat in Amsterdam - Friday, March 21, 2014

Ahad Ha’am and the Shabbat - Friday, March 28, 2014

Shabbat at the JCCA Biennial - Friday, April 4, 2014

Shabbat HaGadol – The Great Sabbath - Friday, April 11, 2014

Challah on the Shabbat During Passover? - Friday, April 18, 2014

Shabbat and the Counting of the Omer - Friday, April 25, 2014

Shabbat and the First Yom Ha’Atzmaut - Friday, May 2, 2014

Sabbaths and Sabbaticals - Friday, May 16, 2014

Light and Dark and theShabbat - Friday, May 23, 2014

Learning on Shabbat - Friday, May 30, 2014

The Shabbat After Shavuot - Friday, June 6, 2014

Shabbat in Outer Space - Friday, June 20, 2014

The Longest Friday of the Year - Friday, June 27, 2014

Shabbat and the 4th of July - Friday, July 4, 2014

The Fast of Tammuz - Friday, July 11, 2014

The Three Weeks - Friday, July 18, 2014

Haftarot for the Three Weeks - Friday, July 25, 2014

The Ninth of Av - Friday, August 1, 2014

Sabbath Peace - Friday, August 8, 2014

All You Need is Love - Friday, August 15, 2014

The Secular Shabbat - Friday, August 22, 2014

Labor Day - Friday, August 29, 2014

Elul - Friday, September 5, 2014

Philip Roth and Shabbat - Friday, September 12, 2014

The Last Shabbat of 5774 - Friday, September 19, 2014

Shabbat Shuvah - Friday, September 26, 2014

Shabbat and Yom Kippur - Friday, October 3, 2014

Species, Species and More Species - Friday, October 10, 2014 

Bialik and Kabbalat Shabbat - Friday, October 31, 2014

Akeidat Yitzchak... The Binding of Isaac - Friday, November 7, 2014

Saving the Jewish People - Friday, November 14, 2014

Shabbat and the Artist - Friday, November 21, 2014

Thanksgiving - Friday, November 28, 2014

Shabbat and the ‘Cello - Friday, December 5, 2014

Short Friday - Friday, December 12, 2014

The Seven Day Week - Friday, December 19, 2014

Celebrating the Sabbath in Darkness - Friday, December 26, 2014

The First Shabbat of the Year - Friday, January 2, 2015

The Kiddush - Friday, January 9, 2015

Bread - Friday, January 16, 2015

Covering the Challah - Friday, January 23, 2015