web analytics
May 26, 2015 / 8 Sivan, 5775
At a Glance
Blogs
Sponsored Post


Shlissel (Key) Challah: The Loaf of Idolatry?

This is an unusual post with which to kick off my new blog,  on the JewishPress.com.

I was sent a research paper that discussed the origins of the Minhag of the “Shlissel Challah”, the custom of baking a key into a Shabbat loaf of bread. It turns out that Shelomo Alfassa’s research uncovered some surprising origins for this “Jewish” custom. You can read the entire paper here, but here are key points from the research paper:

– Every year Jewish women, young and old, partake in the Ashkenazi custom to place a key (such as a door key to a home), inside the dough of a loaf of bread that they bake. This custom is known as shlissel challah—shlissel from the German language shlüssel (key) and challah or hallah from the Hebrew for bread.

– The baking of a key inside a bread is a non-Jewish custom which has its foundation in Christian, and possibly even earlier, pagan culture. At least one old Irish source tells how at times when a town was under attack, the men said, ―let our women-folk be instructed in the art of baking cakes containing keys.

– Keys were traditionally manufactured in the form of a cross, the traditional symbol of Christianity, a physical item all Christian commoners would possess in their home. On Easter, the Christian holiday which celebrates the idea of Jesus “rising” from the dead, they would bake the symbol of Jesus—the key shaped like a cross—into or onto a rising loaf.

– The modern Jewish custom of baking the symbolic shlissel challah, annually takes place on the shabbat immediately following the holiday of Pessah, when tens (if not hundreds) of thousands of religiously observant Jewish women practice this observance.

– In Christianity, baked goods associated with keys are commonly called “Easter breads,” and in Europe they are also known as “Paschals” as the holiday of Easter in the East is known as “Pascha” or “Pascua.” This is most likely the reason Christians often call Easter breads baked with keys Paschals.

– While the custom is said to be mentioned in the writings of Avraham Yehoshua Heshel (the Apter Rav 1748-1825) and in the Ta’amei ha-Minhagim (1891), there is no one clear source for shlissel challah. And while people will say there is a passuq attributed to it, there is not. And, even if there were, a passuq that can be linked to the practice is not the same as a source. Micha Berger, founder of the AishDas Society, [orthodox] calls this type of logic “reverse engineering,” it‘s like drawing a circle around an arrow in a tree, and subsequently declaring the arrow is a bullseye. The idea of baking shlissel challah is not from the Torah; it‘s not in the Tannaitic, Amoraitic, Savoraitic, Gaonic or Rishonic literature.

– Rabbi Moshe Ben-Chaim19 of Mesora.Org [orthodox] teaches that:

The Torah teaches that Hashem punishes the wicked, and rewards the righteous. It does not say that challah baking or any other activity will help address our needs…When the matriarchs were barren, they did not resort to segulas, but introspected and prayed…Nothing in Torah supports this concept of segula; Torah sources reject the idea of a segula…baking challas with brachos cannot help…segulas are useless, and violate the Torah prohibition of Nichush [good luck charms]. It does not matter if the charm is a rabbit‘s foot, a horseshoe, a challah, key or a red bendel. The practice assumes that forces exist, which do not, and it is idolatrous.

- On the far end of the scale, it can be said that shlissel challah observance is a nothing less than “the way of the Amorites.” It is precisely this type of behavior and observance which Jews are supposed to separate themselves from, so it doesn’t go on to influence our thoughts and deeds. Am Yisrael was not created to lose itself in such folklore, and Judaism without disciplined study is nothing but folklore. Judaism allows and encourages the use of our minds. It‘s never too late to realign our path with Torah sources, not blind faith practices which are trendy, in, or cool.

– Educated Jews should help to promote Torah sources to our friends and neighbors, not false practices which are of non-Jewish origin and have nothing to do with Judaism.

100 Amens to that!


About the Author: Jameel blogs at the Muqata: http://www.muqata.com, but these days extensively posts on Facebook. Follow Jameel at https://www.facebook.com/Muqata Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael טובה הארץ מאד מאד The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not represent the views of The Jewish Press.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Shlissel (Key) Challah: The Loaf of Idolatry?”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
President Obama watches helplessly as his two-year-old Passover Seder guest throws a tantrum.
Photo of Obama’s Passover Seder ‘Fifth Child’ Tantrum
Latest Blogs Stories
Doug Goldstein

Are natural sources of energy, such as thorium and molten salt, effective alternatives to oil?

34th Government of Israel

HaModia’s list of the new government’s ministers omitted the women ministers’ first names: WHY?

President Obama speaking at Congregation Adas Israel. May 22, 2015.

Introducing Obama’s latest 2-state solution…

A Soldier's Mother

To friends in America: Wishing someone “Happy Memorial Day” means you don’t understand the holiday.

President Obama believes anti-Semites limit their anti-Semitism to discrimination and organizing, but will always put their survival first!

What motivates a successful leader? Who are the best kinds of people to use as your role model?

The warnings came true: Among the 1000 released terrorists, many returned to terror activity

Torah is to be lived. Rabbi Moshe Levinger was a completely living Torah, the Torah of Eretz Yisrael

“Said Rabbi Yochanan: Happy are those who see the fall of Tadmor…” (Talmud Yerushalmi)

Why has Prime Minister Netanyahu given Erdan & Hanegbi insultingly low-level cabinet appointments?

Without Israel, the Jewish People are scattered nomads lacking Torah’s true national grandeur&power

Will it get better/worse for Bibi or does the wily Bibi know/plan something that will shock us all?

Dr. Vernon Smith, 2002 Economics Nobel Prize winner, on predicting housing markets & economic issues

100% of the ‘First Responders’ helping those Arab school girls were Jewish and they didn’t hesitate!

Women equalizing with men in all areas of Judaism is anathema to the very idea of male/female roles.

Bibi endorsing the “2 State Solution” endangers Israel, moving the policy Center-Right from far Left

More Articles from Jameel@Muqata
Tadmor - Yerushalmi

“Said Rabbi Yochanan: Happy are those who see the fall of Tadmor…” (Talmud Yerushalmi)

bbq cheese

Throw something from a cow onto the fire…

Shaked is known as an outspoken and intelligent advocate for Zionism and democracy.

The kibbutz had complained of hearing underground noises.

Adele Biton, who was seriously injured by terrorists in 2013, is again in critical condition…

Uri was a great representative for religious Zionism. He could get his message across… with a kindness and humor that was infectious and left you wanting to hear more.

American law recognizes assaulting and disrupting a civil airport as a war crime – such as what Hamas did to Ben Gurion Airport in 2014.

According to Obama, the Jews murdered in Paris were “randomly” targeted by a bunch of unaffiliated zealots. Yes he said that.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/muqata/shlissel-key-challah-the-loaf-of-idolatry/2011/12/21/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: