Why is Challah Braided?

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    oot for life

    As my wife was slaving over braiding multiple challah’s last night I began wondering… Why do we braid challahs?

    Neither of us knew.


    Because on Friday we have too much time.

    That is why for yontiff we make round challos. Because on Erev Yontiff we only have time to mush it into a blob and throw it in the oven.

    That is also why we have raisins in the challah on yontiff. So we shouldn’t notice the pieces of potato kugel or whatever that also got accidentally mushed in.


    If we didn’t braid them they wouldn’t be challahs, they would be loves of bread. Everyone knows that on shabbos you need challahs and not loaves of bread.


    Mak: Was that a serious answer?


    Can’t give you sources but what i was raised with was-the original challah on the Shulchan was braided, that is why we do it. The reason it was braided was to show unity – all the different strands are braided into ONE unit. For Rosh Hashona we don’t braid. (although it seems like there are many people who do – i was raised that it shouldn’t have braids) The reason was that we should have a Smooth year with no knots/lumps. May it be so for all of klal yisroel


    “….Because on Friday we have too much time. That is why for yontiff we make round challos. Because on Erev Yontiff we only have time to mush it into a blob and throw it in the oven.

    That is also why we have raisins in the challah on yontiff. So we shouldn’t notice the pieces of potato kugel or whatever that also got accidentally mushed in.”

    popa- LOL, sounds like the life story of my daughter’s hair!!


    Working on it

    They are braided because they look pretty and are more appetizing that way. Personally, when I bake challahs I make it like a breakaway which is so much faster and still looks pretty. Tell your wife to try it next time


    See: The Challah on the Shulchan was not braided. It was a loaf shaped by a mold.


    Sam2: No


    There is an inyan to have 12 challas on Shabbat, to remember the Lehem HaPanim. There are different ways of achieving the 12.

    I think that the braid concept is to have 4 challot throughout Shabbat of 3 braids to make 12.

    The GRA held that there are 2 loaves at each meal (6 total) that are each cut in half, making 12 halves.

    The Arizal, as mentioned in the Ben Ish Hy, had 12 rolls that he arranged on the table.

    “I bake challahs I make it like a breakaway which is so much faster and still looks pretty.”

    Some will do a breakaway with 12 pieces.

    A Heimishe Mom

    For a regular Shabbos: 2 Challos of 6 strand braid each equals 12 representing the 12 loaves on the shulchan. I have made pull-aparts with 6 or 12 balls each (much easier than braiding).

    From Rosh HaShana through Hoshana Raba we eat round challos to symablize to cirlce of the year/life. Raisins symbolize a sweet new year (some use a honey glaze or a streusel topping for the same reason).

    Bakeries make round challos for all yomim tovim because its faster!!

    Everthing however, is based on minhag, not halacha.


    because they make you think of peyos and when you think of peyos you think of a chassid and when you think of a chassid youll think of tzitzis and when you think of tzitzis youll be reminded of techeles and when you think of techeles youll think of the sea and when you think of the sea youll be reminded of the sky and when you think of the sky youll think of the kiseh hakavod and when you think of the kiseh hakavod youll think of teh chairs in your dining room and when you think of the chairs in your living room youll think of the people sitting there impatiently waiting for you to stop contemplating why challa is braided and just wash already so they can get on with the meal!


    seeallsides -“Can’t give you sources but what i was raised with was-the original challah on the Shulchan was braided, that is why we do it.”

    Wow, that’s a new one. Where did you pick this one up -your parents, school? I think you got mixed up.

    There were 12 Challos in the Mishkan, so we also want 12 on our Shabbos table. Six braids in each Challah is 12 altogether.

    sof davar

    The braiding incorporates more air making the challah fluffier.


    I always thought it was as a reminder that on the very first erev shabbos, Hashem braided Chava’s hair before presenting her to Adam, who was called the “challah of the earth”. So a braid in challah = adam and chava –> the 7 days of creation, for which Shabbos is an Ois that H’ created the world. I don’t have a source, but that’s what I remember reading somewhere.


    it is becuase we do not make bread that is fleishig or milchig without a symon and the used to make challos fleishig so they braided them and now it is that it just stuck when we stoed making them fleishig.

    oot for life

    Thank you everyone for your posts, both the serious and the comical… although sometimes I can’t tell which is which.

    kesiv vachisma tova!


    k so pshat from lechem haponim is downright folly. i assume it has a source in the fact that Hashem made chavas hair braided.


    My father a”h was a baker. He always told us that he made the round challahs for the Yomim Noraim because it symbolizes the cycle of life and it is a Zchus that it should continue and not come to an end. It has nothing to do with mass production. Why do we NOT make round challah’s for shavuot?


    popa_bar_abba: 🙂 🙂


    Some people make challah with 6 strands and then braid them together.The six is keneged the 6 days of melacha and the whole challah representing Shabbath.Like the idea of you work 6 days and rest on shabbath (olam hazeh for olam habah).


    In Russia and Ukraine, I have seen many a loaf of bread that resembles challah to a T sold to the general market. I believe they took the shape from us but I am not sure.


    soliek; you sound like me 😉 have we met?

    Since there is always some tension and in the winter a race with the clock, It was introduced to keep a calmness in jewish homes on erev shabbos.

    The braiding which requires two hands, keeps Mommy’s hands busy from potching the kids. The intricate braiding process (which seemed to progress from 3 to four to six etc…) keeps Mommy’s mind and mouth occupied from shouting at Tatty.

    Nowadays with all the commercial bakeries it is kinda pointless

    to some, and the shouting and potching matches continue to be prevalent at those houses that don’t bake and Flecht Challah.

    Rosh hashanah when the new year is upon us we are aware and busy with Teshuvah and Forgiveness, so we are not worried about this.

    So to show our seriousness and achdus at this time of years we make round Challas.


    There was only one family that knew how to make the lechem haponim, and they didnt teach anyone the secret. So even if we tried to make challah look like it, we’d not succeed.

    Dont worry, the family was punished.

    moi aussi

    Creative Energy

    The Shabbat challah is braided. “Six days shall you work (engage in creative activity), and on the seventh shall you desist” (Exodus 34:21). Part of the preparation for the Shabbat is engaging in melacha, creative activity. Braiding is creative activity. The braid is a shape that does not appear in nature. (Ficus trees are hand-braided.) It is a shape that is made by humans and it is representative of the human ability to manipulate the raw material of the world. Braiding the challah strands helps us harness our creative capacities for the purpose of observing the Shabbat.

    Braids don’t appear in nature; they are created by humans.

    But braiding is more than that. The Talmud tells us that God Himself braided Eve’s hair in preparation for her wedding to Adam (Brachot 61a). Was He merely beautifying her? Rabbi Avraham Chaim Feuer teaches that God’s braiding of Eve’s hair was His wedding gift to the couple. He was arranging her creative energies, channeling her imagination into an ordered form that would allow her to maximize her potential as a wife. He was both charging her and gifting her with the ability and the task of channeling the energy of the couple into positive and creative directions. The braid represents that directive, to focus and give order to the energies of one’s household.

    Significantly, many loaves are braided out of six strands. Six represents the days of the week that are not Shabbat. My mother-in-law taught me that braiding six strands into one loaf represents the six days of the week that are bound up in the one Shabbat. Six directed toward one, weekdays manifesting on Shabbat, this world bearing fruit for the next. The six-stranded braid offers us the direction of the channeling that we are enjoined to accomplish.

    70 Faces of Torah

    Round challahs are unique to the High Holiday season. Some say they represent a crown that reflects our coronating God as the King of the world.

    There are 70 faces to the Torah, or in Hebrew, shiv’im panim la’Torah. This means that there are 70 ways to understand every facet of Torah. The word “panim” can be translated either as “face,” or as “innerness.” Thus the Torah presents 70 different “faces,” appearing differently depending on the psychological, intellectual and spiritual angle from which it is examined. It also means that there are 70 different inner realities for every facet we can see.

    Even while studying the same weekly Torah portion, we are able to tune into a new aspect each year.

    King David lived for 70 years, and, in our tradition, that is considered to be the “average” lifespan. Each subsequent year of life makes a person into a different creation than the year before. So if one lives the average lifetime, another understanding of “70 faces to the Torah” could mean that we, through living 70 years, have our own 70 faces that we can turn to the Torah. That is why we often have “aha!” moments even as we study the same concepts we studied last year, or hear the same weekly Torah portion we have heard for years in a row. Turning a different one of our faces to the Torah means that our “receptor sites” are different, and we are able to tune into a new aspect each year.

    Climbing Higher

    The word “shana” has a double meaning as well. In addition to “repeat,” it also means “change”. As the year goes go round and round, repeating the same seasons and holidays as the year before, we are presented with a choice: Do we want this shana (year) to be a repetition, or do we want to make a change (shinui)? Hopefully, each year we make choices for change that are positive, and each year we will climb higher and higher, creating a spiritual spiral.

    The shape of the Rosh Hashana challah reminds us that this is the time of year to make those decisions. This is the time to engage in the creative spiritual process that lifts us out of the repetitive cycle, and directs our energies toward a higher end. Have a sweet new year!


    Squeak: Actually, the weren’t. Check out the Mishna in Yoma (it’s the last Mishnah in one of the Perakim, not the eighth, not sure which one though).


    Is this why the Havdalah Candle is braided?


    Three braids- chut hameshulash, and also maybe it symbolizes the three segments of Yidden – Kohein, Levi, and Yisroel.

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