Shlissel or Key Challah

key-challah

There is a custom to bake key-shaped or Shlissel challah in honor of the Shabbat after Pesach. This is a well observed custom you might want to try for yourself. You can do this by slipping a key directly in the challah, by baking it in the dough or placing it in the braids as you shape. Many even shape their challah to look like a key.Shlissel Challah is a segula, good omen, for parnassa, or livelihood. It’s a very interesting custom with many sources and traditions. The second mishna in Rosh Hashanah says on Pesach we are judged on the grains, parnasa. For a explanation of the segula see: “A Simple Jew :Shlissel Challah”
 
This was the time of year when the Jews entered the Holy Land and the manna stopped falling from heaven. Then they began to eat from the produce of the land and to earn their livelihood in a natural manner. The key-shaped challah symbolizes the key to livelihood which is in G-d’s hand, and our prayers to Him to open the gates of livelihood for us. Another reason, based on Kabbalistic teachings, is that at midnight, on Seder night, various spiritual influences depart from the world. By working to achieve an enhanced spiritual level during the sefirat ha’omer period, we gradually bring them back. The key-shaped challah symbolizes the effort made on our part, as it is written, “Make for me an opening like the eye of a needle and I will open for you an opening as broad as a spacious hall.” We create an opening by observing Shabbat, and we hope G-d will open for us His bountiful treasure house, as it is written, “He had commanded the skies above, and opened the doors of heaven” (Psalms 78:23).
 
The custom is brought down in several books and is especially popular in hareidi communities – but many modern communities observe it as well. According to rabbis, the key is an expression of prayer for the blessings of G-d, as the “key” to a life of material plenty is in His hand.
Some versions of the custom require the placing of an actual key inside the dough, with the key actually baked into the challah, while others prefer the key-shaped bread in observance of the custom. Still others contend that it is sufficient to attach a key to an already-baked challah before it is brought to the Sabbath table.
Shlissel or Key Challah served on the first Shabbat after Pesach
Tips for Making Shlissel Key Challah
 
~If you want to place a key in your homemade or store bought challah, first make sure to wash the key very well. Many keys contain lead so it is usually best to wrap the key in foil as well.
 
~Slip the key in between the braids of the challah as you shape it.
 
~Impress a key on the surface of the shaped, unbaked bread before it rises.
 
~You can use any key you like. Some like to use the key to their home as the home is the place we can fully feel the Almighty’s presence in our lives as He is the one who puts the food on our table. Some like to use an old decorative key to press on top. If you have a home in Israel, how wonderful to use that!
 
~For store bought challah, simply slip a small key into the bottom of the loaf.
 
~Making your own challah gives the woman of the home a magnificent opportunity to pray for the members of her family and community as she kneads. The mitzvah of separating challah is a cherished mitzvah for us that you can learn about here on TheKosherChannel.
 
~You can us any challa recipe you like. Here’s my favoriteCooking for The King recipe which you can use to make your own Shlissel key challah.
 
~Many have the custom to shape the challah like a key or design one out of dough to place on the top of the challah.

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