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Why is the Challah dipped in salt before it is eaten?

by Rabbi Naftali Silberberg

  

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Important note: We always dip the bread in salt, not only Challah and not only on Shabbat.

Our table is considered an altar (see Ezekiel 41:22 and Ethics of our Fathers 3:3), and in the Holy Temple salt was offered together with every sacrifice (Leviticus 2:13).

Salt never spoils or decays, therefore, it is symbolic of our eternal covenant with G-d. That's why the verse refers to it as "the salt of your G-d's covenant.

Salt also adds taste to everything. Our bond with G-d is supposed to add meaning and flavor to every moment of our lives; even when we are not directly involved in spiritual pursuits.

TAGS: salt

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COMMENTS

Dipping challah into salt

Posted by: Gary, NYC, NY on Aug 11, 2005

So why don't we just sprinkle salt on the challah, why is it dipped?

Editor's Comment

According to Kabbalah, salt, which is bitter, represents Divine Severity, and bread, the staff of life, represents Divine Kindness. We don't want to sprinkle severity atop the kindness ... rather we wish to overpower the severity with kindness. On an even more mystical level, the gematria (numerical value) of the word Lechem (Hebrew for bread) is 78. We dip the bread three times dividing the energy of 78 into 3 = 26, which is the gematria for G-d's name (the Tetragrammaton). This reminds us of the verse (Deuteronomy 8:3) "man does not live by bread alone, but rather by, whatever comes forth from the mouth of the Lord does man live."

RELATED CATEGORIES

Daily Life » Eating

Shabbat
(pl: Shabbatot). Hebrew word meaning "rest." It is a Biblical commandment to sanctify and rest on Saturday, the seventh day of the week. This commemorates the fact that after creating the world in six days, G-d rested on the seventh.
Challah
A loaf of bread. Usually refers to: 1) The section of dough separated and given to the priest (today that section is burnt). 2) The sweetened, soft bread customarily consumed at the Sabbath meals.
Ezekiel
1. Major Jewish prophet who lived in the 5th century BCE. 2. One of the 24 books of the Bible, containing the prophecies which Ezekiel transmitted.
Leviticus
The third of the Five Books of Moses. This book deals with the service (of the Levite Tribe) in the Tabernacle, and contains many of the 613 commandments.
Temple
1. Usually a reference to the Holy Temple which was/will be situated in Jerusalem. 1st Temple was built in 825 BCE and was destroyed in 423 BCE. The 2nd Temple was built in 350 BCE and was destroyed in 70 CE. The 3rd Temple will be built by the Messiah. 2. A synagogue.
G-d
It is forbidden to erase or deface the name of G-d. It is therefore customary to insert a dash in middle of G-d's name, allowing us to erase or discard the paper it is written on if necessary.