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Shlissel Challah

shlissel challah.jpg

Not Chas V’shalom to make light of a Minhag, but this particular so-called “Segula” seems to be making it’s way to the top ten.

There seems to be a Machlokes how to be Mikayem this Chiuv. Do we bury the key inside the dough? Place it next to the baked Challah? Place a key next to the Challah while it’s baking? Shape the Challah like a key? Take the key from the Aron Kodesh and poke holes in the Challah (Minhag Nadvorn)? How many keys? Use your house key? Car Key? Key from vault?

So many questions and so few answers.

The big question: How many people making Shlissel Challah are following the Minhag of their parents? Did their mothers do the same?

51 Responses

  1. ‘Not Chas V’shalom to make light of a Minhag,’
    On the serious side, does anybody have a mekor in writing for this?

  2. Actually you missed one, some (my wife included) make a small “key” out of the dough, and place it on top of the challah braids and bakes on. A piece of advice for those who do it this way, make one “key” for each kid. The kids love to fight over the “key”!

    Another piece of advice, if you place you house/safe deposit/car key in the challah (as we do as well), do yourself a favor and wrap it in silver foil first. It’s disgusting to put your filthy key inside the challah.

    We should all the zoche that the shlisselach should open up all the appropriate shearim in shamayim. Gut Shabbos.

  3. I put in the keys to my piano.

    The Taamei Minhagim has a bunch of reason for it,some of them parnassah, and some of them along the lines that the shaarim are open around this time of year, when the B”Y became the B”Y, B”H.

  4. This is a Minhag Kadmonim. Some Mekoros:
    Imrei Pinchas on Shabbos Umoadim ois reish ches tzaddi (letters reversed for obvious reason, not amaratzus),
    Oheiv Yisrael (Apter Rov) Likutim,
    Ginzei Yisrael (Chortkov) Pesach from Tof Reish Samech Bais Simun Kuf Ayin Zayin,
    Ahavas Yisrael (Vizhnitz) Parshas Shmini ois Pei Zayin
    Sefer Ateres Yeshuah page Nun Gimmel amud Bais
    Sefer Rav Tuv (by the Baal Yetav Lev) on Inyanei Shabbos Shechal Achar Pesach.

  5. Yehudi:

    Minhag Kadmonim? You must have meant to write “Minhag Chassidim”. Last I checked the Apter Rov, Ahavas Yisroel and the rest of the Gedoley Chassidim were not Kadmonim.

    They were all Choshuver Rebbes from the last two hundred years.

  6. y.w. editor – the last line is extraneous. noone normal thinks that you are anti-chassidim. However, if you read your post again you will see why some people make that assumption. you have a habit of referring to them in a sense which seems like they are “the others”. probably not intentional, but not nice.

  7. I would strongl advise against putting in the new fangled car keys as they very often have microchips and transponders in them that will get ruined in the heat!! (besides the plastic and/or rubber on around them!)

  8. Y.W. Editor
    All these sources bring the minhag’s source down as a Minhag Kadmonim they just give various reasons for the minhag.

  9. Nitei Gavriel Pesach Sefer Chelek Gimel Perek Lamed Tes:

    The first words are “Minhag Chassidim”.

    He brings down the Imrei Pinchos, but calles it Minhag Chassidim.

  10. There is a wonderful segulah for parnassah that I learned from my Rabbaim and it also happens to be a family minhag. It has the benefit of not being restrained to one particular friday in the year. In fact, this wonderful segulah is available for everyone at any time and in any place. In addition to parnassah, it has been reported to be effective in cases of shiduchim, child raising, health and practicly anything a person could desire. Although not nearly as exciting as baking a key shaped challah, or even sticking a key into a challah, it is brought down by kadmonim. In fact, according to some rishonim it is actually a kiyum of a mitzvas asseh d’oraysah.

    In case you didn’t guess yet, this segulah is called TEFFILAH. Try it. It’s boduk umenussa.

  11. I know someone who makes several types to be “yotzei l’chol hadei’os.”

    There’s a beautiful article about this from a real skeptic in this week’s Forward. He was troubled by the whole thing, but his wife tried it and Hashem sent them abundant berachah.

    He was thinking about “why it works,” and his wife’s friend told them that her Challah baking is a way to connect to Hashem and “ein od milvado” — as she kneads and the dough she focuses on placing herself completely in His hands.

    If we can be inspired in that way, we and our families will certainly benefit from the “kirvas Elokim.”

  12. kadmonim is a subjective term. How long are keys around? and how long ago are chassidim around? put them together and anything from an early chassidish sefer (up to a maximum of 400 years or so) can be called from the “kadmoiynim” by later (current) chassidim. however, real kadmonim probably didn’t have keys and if they did they were not bakable.

  13. if i have a fancy new keyless car (like the new RL has an oven knob) & i only have a combonation lock to my house – what alternative should i use

  14. I heard that one reason for the minhag is because just like H-shem gave bnei yisrael lots of mon in the midbar after they left mitzrayim. So too, the shabbos after pesach we make shlissel challah as a segulah that H-shem will also shower us with mon- parnassah.

  15. bugnot – if ur wife didnt make the challa yet – make a key shape out of dough on top of the challah – thats what my mother does-

  16. I received a warning from “All Three American Friends of Neturei Karta” that baking the challah in the shape of a Zionist “Mul-T-Lock” key (Rav Bariah for those who live in the Zionist Entity), or burying such a key inside the dough, negates the segulah. 🙂 🙂 :).

  17. according to sefer hatodaah you form a shape of a key with poppyseeds on the outside, which is zecher to the mon which satrted falling after pesach and shaped like a key to remind us just like h’ gave parnosah, he gives it now

  18. itsprivate – my challas are in the oven already – its to late – i was klering if i should put in the key chip from the car but the other guy said it’ll ruin it – does plastic toy keys do the trick or its cheating?

  19. bupkiss: keys have been around forever (the Gemora in Shabbos mentions them…)
    Also, I want to say a new pshat in this minhag: The Shabbos following Pesach (when we eat the Schlissel Challah) is always Shabbos Mevorchim Iyar, and Iyar is the month when the Monn started falling (15 Iyar, see Parshas Beshalach).

    We all know that on Erev Rosh Chodesh Sivan you’re supposed to say the Tefilas Hashalah for having your children become Talmidei Chachomim. But if you look closely at his intro, he says that since the month of Sivan is the month of Kabolas HaTorah, therefore it is appropriate to say this tefilla Erev Rosh Chodesh.

    So too by the Monn – We only eat Challah on Shabbos, so therefore Shabbos Mevorchim would be the best time.

    Say this by your Shabbos tisch tonite !

    א גוטען שבת קודש

  20. I just made a shlissel challa in the shape of a key. Yes, my mother and grandmother proudly made it! It’s a segula l’parnassa and a minhag passed down in many homes. Frankly, I’m surprised that YW editor has allowed some of the comments which make light of this minhag…..It may not be YOUR minhag but it’s a minhag of a big part of klal yisroel

  21. Re previous post about tefillah, i work for in sales, and it wasn’t easy yesterday. This morning, as I came into work, I literally almost cried when I davened to Hashem- and I just got an account!!
    In sales, I realize very quickly that I’m not the one in charge very easily- lets all daven to Hashem, in whatever situation they are in, that he should control us, and that everything should be easy and smooth for Acheinu B’nai Yisrael

  22. “How long are keys around? ”
    According to Wikepedia :Wooden locks and keys were in use as early as 4,000 years ago in Egypt .

    I wrote a guest post for a blog on Shlisel Challahs giving many beautiful reasons behind the minhag. It’s not only about parnasa it’s also about allusions to yirah.

    Edited by Site Moderation Panel: No links to blogs allowed in comments.

  23. On the issue of Challah Minhagim. My wife enlightened me as to why we six braid challos, it is kenneged the lechem haponim, you have lechem mishneh two challos of six braids equals 12 individual rolls. Just think about these amazing connections everytime you make hamotzie on Shabbos and really enjoy the Challah.

  24. bugnot – you can use plastic toy keys but don’t be surprised if you end up with monopoly money and a melted key!

  25. If you’ll put those piano keys in-and daven for the amud on shabbos-make sure the piano is tuned first.
    BTW-A minhag does break a din.How do we know?The din is when you borrow money you should pay back.The minhag is,people don’

  26. Here is info on shlisel challah

    There is a minhag to bake shlissel challah (shlissel means key in Yiddish) for the Shabbos after Pesach. Shlisel challos are best known as a segula for parnasa, though there are other reasons for it, as we will soon see. Some bake the challah with an actual key inside, some make the challah in the shape of a key and some put sesame seeds on top in the form of a key. There are those who make the challah flat to look like matzos. We will discuss this later on. The Ohev Yisroel says about shlisel challah that “the minhagim of our fathers are most definitely Torah”. There are many reasons given for this minhag of baking shlissel challah; we will go through some of them. (Some of the items written below can also be found in Taamei Minhagim, Nitei Gavriel, Sefer Hatoda’a and Minhag Yisroel Torah)

    First of all, the second mishna in Rosh Hashanah says on Pesach we are judged on the grains, parnasa. Rabbeinu Nissim asks if we are judged on Rosh Hashana then how are we judged on Pesach? He answers that on Pesach it is determined how much grain there will be in the coming year for the world, but on Rosh Hashana it is decided how much of that grain each individual receives. The Meiri, however, says that on Rosh Hashana it is decided if one will live or die, suffer or not and other such things, but on Pesach is when we are judged on the grains. Based on this there are customs in Sephardic communities to do things Motzei Pesach as a sign that we want Hashem to give us livelihood. In Aram Soba (Syria) and Turkey they put wheat kernels in all four corners of the house on Motzei Pesach as a sign of prosperity for the coming year. (Moed L’kol Chai -R’ Chaim Palagi, Beis Habichira). From a mishna we already see that there is a connection between Pesach and parnasa.

    Reasons for Shlissel Challa

    1).In Shir Hashirim (which we read on Pesach) it says פִּתְחִי-לִי אֲחֹתִי רַעְיָתִי – “Open for Me, My sister, My beloved”. Chazal say that Hashem asks us to open up for Him a small whole like the tip of a needle and He will open up a huge hole for us. Also, Klal Yisroel is called a bride and they are called the bechina (aspect) of bread. During Pesach all the upper gates and minds are open and after Pesach they close and we need to open them. Therefore, we put a key in the challah after Pesach to hint at us opening a small “hole”, through the mitzvah of Shabbos (and, if I might add, the mitzvah of challah) and now Hashem should open up all His good from his storehouses and the heavens like He gave the mon to our fathers in the month of Iyar, and this Shabbos we bless the month of Iyar.

    2) After Pesach is when the mon stopped falling and we brought the Omer. From then on we needed to eat from the produce of the ground; we needed parnasa, since untill now we had the mon. It is known that everything has a gate. Therefore just as we daven to Hashem to open up the gates of parnasa we have a minhag to put the form of a key on the challos to allude that Hashem should open up the gates of parnasa for us.

    3) During sefira we count 49 days till Shavuos, the 50th day, which is the shaarei bina. We go from gate to gate, and each gate has a key. That is why we make an image of a key on the challah.

    4) It says in Shir Hashirim 1:11 תּוֹרֵי זָהָב נַעֲשֶׂה לָּךְ עִם נְקֻדּוֹת הַכָּסֶף – “We will make for you circlets of gold with spots of silver.” By the Mishkan it says זהב וכסף ונחשת, putting zahav (gold) before kesef (silver). In Bereishis, by the creation of the world, the first day it says Yehi ohr which is chesed (which is represented by silver) and the second day represents gevurah, which in turn represents gold. The reason is that by the creation of the world it was pure chesed, as it says “the world was built on chesed” (Tehilim 89,3), therefore chesed, which is representative of kesef, precedes gevurah, which is representative of zahav. By the Mishkan, however, Hashem had to, so-to-speak, contract (tzimtzum) the Shechina (Divine Presence) to dwell in it, and tzimtzum is from the aspect of gevurah, therefore zahav precedes kesef by the Mishkan. However, the zahav written there has the nekudah (vowel sound) of a פַתַּח (it has a patach instead of the usual kometz), it says זְהַב הַתְּנוּפָה (Shemos 38,24), and that is the nekuda of chesed –the nekuda of chochma. And פתח (the vowel) also means opening like פתח ושער- from there comes all the kindness. Putting it all together, this that we say in Shir Hashirim תּוֹרֵי זָהָב נַעֲשֶׂה לָּךְ עִם נְקֻדּוֹת הַכָּסֶף means the Mishkan was made with zahav, the aspect of tzimtzum, but with the nekuda of kesef, meaning the (word “zahav”, instead of having the usual vowel, kometz, is written with the) nekuda of patach, which is chesed. And the Shabbos after Pesach is always in the second week of sefira which is gevurah, the aspect of zahav, except that it is menukad with kesef, nekudas patach. Through this we say that we will open up all the gates of blessing and since every gate has a מפתח (key) we make the image of a key on the challah.

    5) The previous four reasons are all brought by the Ohev Yisroel in Shabbos Acher Pesach and Likutim Parshas Shmini. There is a fifth reason brought by the Ohev Yisroel, also based on the posuk תּוֹרֵי זָהָב נַעֲשֶׂה לָּךְ עִם נְקֻדּוֹת הַכָּסֶף, connecting the written and oral Torah to challah. (See Ohev Yisroel, Shabbos Acher Pesach)

    6) The matza we ate on Pesach is supposed to instill in us Yiras Hashem. And Yirah is compared to a key as we see from the following Gemara in Mesechta Shabbos 31a-b: “Rabbah bar Rav Huna said: Any person that has Torah but doesn’t have Yiras Shomayim is comparable to a treasurer who has the keys to the inner parts (of the treasure house) but the keys to the outer area was not handed to him. How can he get to the inner parts (if he can’t first get into the outer parts)?” Therefore we put a key in the challah the Shabbos after Pesach to show we want the Yirah obtained from the matzos to stay with us, because if one has Yirah then the Torah will stay attached to him. (Yismach Yisroel)

    7) The Rambam lists out at the beginning of Hilchos Chometz U’Matza that there are 8 mitzvos (3 positive & 5 negative) involved there. The key we put in the challah alludes to this Rambam: the letters of מפתח (key) spell פ״ת ח׳ מ׳צות. (פ״ת is bread, representing the “chometz” and מ׳ is for matza- these allude to Hilchos Chometz U’Matza, and theח׳ is the 8 mitzvos involved) (Tzvi LaTzadik)

    8) The Shabbos after Pesach we make challos that look like matzos, as an allusion to the matzos that were eaten on Pesach Sheini. And we put a key in it to allude to the “gates” being open untill Pesach Sheini. (Imrei Pinchos)

    9) The minhag is to put keys in the challah and make them in the form of matzos. The reason is that in these seven weeks of sefira we are supposed to work on our Avodas Hashem until we reach the the level of the first night of Pesach. The way to do this is to put the “left into the right”, meaning mix the trait of ahava (right side) with yirah (left side). In this second week of sefira we have these two traits in our hands, since the first week of sefira is chesed- ahava, and the second week is gevura – yirah. That is why we make the challah look like matza. Matza is representative of the yetzer tov, the right, and chometz is representative of the yetzer horah, the left. Now, we have challos which are true chometz, in the form of matza; “the left is in the right”, chometz in matza. (Shearis L’Pinchos)

    10) There are many reasons given for the shlissel challah, and I say that the shlisel challos are the keys to parnasa. (Segulas HaBeShT V’Talmidov quoting Nachlas Yaakov)

    Different ways of making Shlissel Challah

    As mentioned above (reasons 8 and 9) there are those that make the challah round and flattish for this Shabbos, in the image of matza.

    Some make the challah in the shape of a key.

    Some attach a piece of dough in the shape of a key. Breslov Customs for Pesach (page 57) says this is the minhag of the family of Reb Elazar Kenig shlita and of Manistritch.

    Sefer Hatoda’ah mentions making the image of a key with sesame seeds on top of the challah. These first three customs can, perhaps, be seen from the wording of the Ohev Yisroel in one place where he says we put the image of a key on the challah.

    Some place an actual key in the challah. Perhaps this is done because of the wording in many places of indenting the challah with a key.

    Either way it is done the key or image of the key is usually on top. An interesting observation about this. The Gemara quoted by the Yismach Yisroel (reason 6), about the key, is at the top of daf 31b. At the bottom of the daf is the mishna mentioning the women’s mitzvah of challah. Here to the key is on top and the challah on the bottom.

    Either way one performs this minhag they are all correct and all have holy sources. When I started writing this I did not realize how much information there was on this minhag which is done only once a year. I learnt a valuable lesson. Every minhag and of course every mitzvah has many holy reasons behind it and it’s not done just because someone decided this is a nice thing to do, as some say. The more I looked into shlissel challah the more I found in seforim written by Rabbonim who were geonim in every part of Torah, nistar and nigleh, and tzadikim in every aspect, between “man and God” and “between man and man”. They were able to understand reasons for every little action we do as a way of serving Hashem. May we all be blessed with parnasa berevach together with all of Klal Yisroel.

    Note: It is said in the name of Reb Dovid of Tolna that one should make sure the dough separated as challah is burnt completely until no part of it is edible. In addition to being the ideal way to burn the challah, he says that if a davar tamei eats the unburnt challah it can cause ones children to go off the derech, chas v’shalom.

  27. lkwdguy is right, tefilla works wonders. another wonderful segula that promises to give us all good things is kibud av vaem… in addition to long life, we are promised only good for keeping this mitzva!

  28. An Israeli burglar I know had his wife bake challah with a crowbar inside instead of a key since that is what he usually uses to open doors!

  29. for those who are putting down this beautiful minhag plese stop. you r prob jealous that you dont have this minhag

    A TALMUD u have nothing better to do on a friday afternoon with an hour to shab than write a megila?! just kidding- thanks for your beautiful explanation on the minhag

  30. by the way for next year- some local bakeries in flatbush were selling already made dough- just braid and bake! dont forget the key!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  31. I bit into the challah and swallowed the key. what do i do now? please help me. Everytime i try to swallow, my car alarm goes on!

  32. Another reason given for Shlissel Challah is to remember the blood libel that was averted during the time of the Maharal… the ma’aseh with the key chain that fell off the wall three times in his house… leading them to finding the flask of blood in shul. It happened on Pesach. I guess that since it might be difficult trying to hide a key in matzo, they decided to wait until the Shabbos following Pesach to hide the key. (we just read about this story during Shalosh Seudos in an introduction to Pirkei Avos).

  33. Another Segula for Parnosa is Berchas Hamozon with Kavona (pref. from a Bencher) so if your Chalah didn’t make it for what ever reason try the all around year Segula!

  34. A Talmid – Thanks for a great post.

    Please everyone stop knocking this wonderful minhag. I’m sure everyone has minhagim of there own which might sound weird to everyone else. just try to chill and except it, I promise it won’t hurt you.

  35. Not my mother’s minhag, but it’s a great opportunity for my wife to bake challos! And everyone loves the keys. if she can she does if she can’t she doesn’t.

  36. Hodu L’HaShem “Key” Tov – “Key” L’Olam Chasdoh

    (I couldn’t leave a thread with 50 posts and not add my 2 cents)


  37. To Chacham, Kitzur, A Talmid:

    you have taken what i said out of context. the point of my post was that keys predate hassidm, i was not questioning if keys were around that long. not a good track record for a contributor to wikipedia but no surprise coming from “yeshiva guys”. if only you (in general) could actually try to understand what was said before running your mouths….. and if you don’t, keeping still……

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