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Why is it customary to run the knife over the Challah before reciting Hamotzi?

by Rabbi Naftali Silberberg

  

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The common custom is to make a slight indentation in the Challah with the knife before saying the hamotzi blessing. The reason for this custom is because normally we cut the bread before reciting the blessing so we shouldn't have to make an interruption between the blessing and the eating. On Shabbat, however, we cannot cut the bread before the blessing because there is a Mitzvah to make a blessing on two complete loaves of bread (to commemorate the two portions of manna which each Jew received every Friday).

So instead we make a mark on the challah with the knife. This way we are at least "starting" to slice the bread before the blessing.


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Mitzvah
(pl. Mitzvot). A commandment from G-d. Mitzvah also means a connection, for a Jew connects with G–d through fulfilling His commandments.
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.