Some people may remember an old commercial that said, “Piston engines go boing, boing, boing but Mazda engines goes mmmmmm.” It was advertising a nice, quiet engine.
This time of the year kind of brings back that commercial to me: Matzah chewing goes crunch, crunch, crunch, but the challah goes mmmmmm!
So, our ears are back to enjoying the soothing quiet as a nice warm piece of challah is being digested between our teeth.
But I’m here to warn you. Remember there is a tradition of some to keep that crunch going. So, hold onto your caps! And I don’t mean hold onto your hats – I mean, caps. All that dental work you’ve ever had can go right down the tubes if you happen to be the one who bites into that metal slab hidden inside the challah.
Yes, many people traditionally bury a key inside the challah the first Shabbos after Passover. I’m sure some of them don’t even have a clue why.
Bad sense of humor, perhaps?! It could be that, or the old Fiddler on the Roof explanation: tradition! Tradition is certainly always a good reason to do something. It keeps our connection to, and respect for, what mattered to our ancestors going.
But it might be nice to know some of the reasons we have this tradition, especially since we do endanger our valued molars.
So, one reason is that the manna stopped falling right after Pesach. It was a source of easy sustenance. Therefore, we are symbolically asking G-d to open the gates of financial success post-Passover because we realize our contribution and work must help to bring us sustenance.
A kabbalistic reason is that during Pesach the upper gates of heaven are open but after Passover they are shut once more. We are asking G-d to use that key to keep those high-up gates open for us.
There is a phrase in Shir Hashirim (Rabbah) that proclaims that G-d promises that if we open the connection with him the size of a pinhole, He will reciprocate by opening the relationship great enough to fit a chariot through. When we show G-d the key, we are symbolically opening that connection – and we’re hoping G-d will take notice and make His giant response.
After Pesach we should realize that freedom comes in many forms: physical and mental, concrete and spiritual. Passover is a time to become open to the idea that even if G-d hasn’t delivered freedom yet physically in all situations, we should realize we have been given the tools to find it through attitude and optimism. With the key we put in our challah, we can be open up to the idea of finding freedom from burdens, struggles and life’s mysteries.
However, these days a lot more people use passcodes than actual keys. Therefore, I’m baking a combination lock into my challah.
Wow, talk about potentially needing to go for dental work. If you bite into one of those chunky guys, watch out! Who knows? Maybe, secretly, I’m trying to drum up work for my daughter-in-law and niece; they are about to start the clinical portion of dental school.
The ultimate concept is to use this key as a reminder that you have the opportunity, as a newly freed person, to open new highways and byways for yourself.
Can you see a theme running through our Jewish holidays? Rosh Hashanah is our new year; it is an opportunity to start over. Each new month is a new opportunity to start over. In fact, each morning we are told is a new day; we have an opportunity to start over. And now with this “key Shabbos” comes yet another reminder of the glorious opportunity we always have to open up new beginnings, new ways of thinking and living.
Sure, some people may think I just want to continue where I left off. It’s too burdensome to keep starting all over. There is truth to that. But think – the effort may be worth it. Every time you start over you open a door again. Remember how these metal keys work. You need to put the effort in and turn them once again each time. Yet, it’s worth it. Because it gets you the chance to enter anew.
So use that key – step out of the past, unlock new vistas, and start renewed!
Rivki Rosenwald is a certified relationship counselor, and career and life coach. She can be contacted at 917-705-2004 or firstname.lastname@example.org