Thursday, October 28, 2010

Challah for Healing

This post is part of a three part installment focusing on Challah - traditional Jewish egg bread.  This post will focus on baking and "taking" challah as a time to ask G-d for blessings and special requests.  This series is in the merit of a complete and speedy recovery for my dear friend Nechama Gittel Chaya bat Chana (Norma Kuras).  See adjacent posts for some challah basics and shaping techniques.

There is never a bad time to ask G-d for help; however, when women take part in the three mitzvoth (commandments/good deeds) specifically given to women, it is considered a particularly auspicious time to ask for things.  The three mitvot are: lighting Sabbath candles, managing family purity, and separating challah.  In the merit of a complete recovery for my friend, I am instigating a mass challah baking.  We want to get at least 40 women to bake Challah this coming week (in your own homes) before next Shabbat (Friday night, November 5.)
There are three ways to sign up:
1.Comment on this post with some form of your real name and your commitment to bake.
2. Join our Facebook event and mark yourself “attending”, or
3. E-mail me at  If you want a reminder next Thursday, e-mail me.  (You can also use this e-mail address to send me pictures of you and your kids baking challah or doing another mitzvah in for Nechama Gittel Chaya bat Chana's recovery.  I'd like to collect as many as possible.  I think it will bring some cheer to Nechama Gittel Chaya bat Chana and her family.)

*Please specify if you can commit to taking challah with a blessing next week, if you are just baking challah in honor of Nechama Gittel Chaya bat Chana’s recovery, or if you would like to take on another mitzvah in the merit of her recovery (such as lighting candles before sundown Friday night or giving to charity.)  I hope the public display of your commitment will encourage others.

Below is an example of how to separate challah with a blessing by Hannah of Cooking Manager and A Mother in Israel.

Here are instructions on the formal way to take challah when you are asking for the healing a sick person, from my good friend Leor:

"1) Make the dough (it needs to have at least 10 cups of flour, so if one recipe of challah dough isn't enough, just make two batches and put all the dough together before the next step)

2) Take off a handful and make the bracha:

Baruch Ata Ado-nai Eloheinu Melech Haolam Asher K'deshanu B'mitzvosav V'tzivanu lehafrish challah (min ha'isa).

3) Set the dough aside in tinfoil.

4) Immediately afterward is when you should add any extra tefillos that you have, so in this case the yehi ratzon for a sick person.  (It's the same yehi ratzon that's in the siddur at shemone esrei, in refa'ainu, that you can add for a specific sick person.)  

Here's a transliteration: Yehi Ratzon Mil'fanecha Ado-nai Elo-hai V'elo-hai Avosai Shetishlach Mehaira Refuah Shelaimah Min Hashamayim, Refuas Hanefesh Urefuas Haguf Lacholah Nechama Gittel Chaya bas Chana Besoch Shaar Cholei Yisrael.  (Substitute the Lacholeh for Lacholah if the sick person is a male.)

And in Hebrew:
יהי רצון מלפניך ד' אלקי ואלקי אבותי שתשלח מהרה רפואה שלמה מן השמים, רפואת הנפש ורפואת הגוף לחולה_______ בתוך שאר חולי ישראל.

5) Burn the dough.  (You can burn it in the oven, but you can't have this dough in the oven at the same time as your challahs.  You can burn it before or after you bake the challahs.  Or, you can burn it on the stove, with a blowtorch, etc.)"

Thanks Leor!  

FYI: The amounts of flour that require a blessing are based on weight.  According to Spice and Spirit, you need between 13-15 cups of "sifted" flour (1666.6 g or 3 lb. 11 oz.).  Additionally, the authors write that you say the blessing BEFORE separating the challah.  Hannah says, besides burning the dough, you can set it aside until it is no longer edible.  In Pittsburgh I learned to stick it in the freezer in paper towel until Passover, and then burn it with all the other chumetz.  But that community did a community challah burning, so a cold mass of challah dough was no match for the bonfire.  Some people might not like the idea of having challah dough in the house after they have otherwise cleaned for Passover.  The attached printable challah recipe is well tested and makes enough dough to make the blessing (as well as enough loafs and cake for a small family all Shabbat). 

For more on baking challah, see the next post: Challah Basics

Update:  Thank you everyone who participated!  We got an excellent response with people baking, learning, and saying tehillim (psalms) in the merit of Nechama Gittel Chaya bat Chana's recovery.  Please continue to keep her in your prayers. 
I baked soft pretzels, Leor in Silver Spring, MD made 4-braid challah loafs, and Jennifer in Coral Springs, FL made these beautiful loafs:
Read Hannah's post for more about Nechama Gittel Chaya bat Chana.  Refuah Shelaima!


  1. Beautiful. May Hashem send Nechama Gittel Chaya a complete recovery in the merit of the mitzvah of challa performed by so many women. Kol HaKavod!

  2. I`m baking this week. Shavuah tov! Shiran ZM

  3. I can bake this week! Refuah Shelaima to your friend!!

  4. I bake challot every week but this week they will be for Nechama Gittel Chaya bat Chana. Please don't hesitate to call on me to do this whenever you need it.

  5. Baking as soon as I get home from work. May Nechama Gittel Chaya have a complete and speedy recovery and a wonderful Shabbos.

  6. I baked last night- the challot came out beautifully! Shabbat shalom l'kulam and refuah shelaimah to Nechama Gittel Chaya.

  7. My oatmeal sour dough is about to go into the oven.

  8. My oatmeal sour dough is about to go into the oven.

  9. I learned this morning with Nechama Gittel Chaya bat Chana in mind. May Hashem bring her a refuah shelaima.

    - Brian from NJ -



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