The origins of shlissel challah are a hot topic come the week after Passover. Hailed as a segula for parnassa by some and dismissed as a leftover from a Christian custom by others, the discussions get as heated as the oven-fresh bread itself.
So let’s get it straight. Shlissel challah is a loaf of bread baked for the Shabbat after Passover. The loaf is either baked in a shape of a key or has the house key baked inside. Baking such bread is considered by many to be a good omen (segula) for material success.
The custom of baking shlissel challah is widely practiced in Chassidic communities. But in the past 10 years it has become extremely popular in other communities as well and many women take the time to bake shlissel challah. (The fact that we get our kitchens back after a week-long trip to the Pesach foil-wrapped neverland is an added motivator.)
Rabbi Yair Hoffman quotes Rabbi Pinchas Shapiro of Koritz (18th century) who taught that schlissel challah is a reminder that the Gates of Heaven are especially open to our prayers during the month between Pesach and Pesach Sheini. On the other hand, the Apter Rebbe teaches that now is the time to reopen the Gates of Heaven through meticulous observance of Shabbos. And since after leaving Egypt, the Jews merited man in the desert, we pray for additional material success.
Still, others dismiss the custom of shlissel challah, citing its pagan origins. In a long article, Shelomo Alfassa explains that Eastern European Christians had a long-standing custom of baking their cross-shaped keys inside bread loaves around Easter time. To his mind, the Christian custom must have been adopted at one point by the Jews.
For me shlissel challah, is first and foremost a way to make Judaism more experiential and memorable for my kids. If you want to make your business more fun, memorable and experiential too, check out this post on shlissel challah I had written a while back.
Whether you choose to believe in the segula of shlissel challah or not, Chazal (Pesachim 118) teach us that a person’s parnassa is as difficult as the splitting of the Red Sea. The miracle of kriyat yam suf is a clear example that even something this miraculous requires both divine intervention and human effort. Before the sea could split, Hashem commanded Moshe to stop praying and tell the Jews to ride into the water (Shmot 14:15). Only then could the miracle happen.
Believe it or not, our parnassa works in the same exact way. Hashem decrees how successful we will be. He sends us the blessing. Yet we have to create a kli – a receptacle – for all this bounty. We are commanded to make our effort.
So often I hear people say that they don’t do anything to promote their business, because “God sends me clients”. This is always true. Yet sometimes these words are not an expression of faith. They are an excuse to cover up the fact that the business owner has no clue how to get more clients.
In a famous story with Elisha and the pot of oil, the Torah teaches us that even the greatest miracle starts with a physical vessel to contain the blessing. If you want more parnassa, by all means strengthen your faith in Hashem and daven, but don’t forget to make an educated hishtadlus to create such a vessel in your business.
If until now you have been hesitant to charge for your services, if it is difficult to charge what you are worth, join us on April 27 to learn why paying you is God’s way of helping your clients solve their problems. Learn how to set fair prices – fair for you and fair for your clients.
If you have been avoiding making a real effort to get more clients, you can also take part in an exclusive coaching group that will help you get the business-building work done. NOW!
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