To all of us suffering from the grief and terror of war, here is a poem for solace.
“How to Make Challah”
Begin with the biggest bowl you have,
let it be large enough to contain your whole week.
You will need to wrestle with angels.
Begin in the place of knowing,
the place that venerates.
Summon stillness, kavannah.
In the smallest nesting bowl,
proof the yeast in lukewarm water.
Remember that you are proof.
Let the fragrance of yeast envelop you,
rain, wet earth, fecund.
Measure 7 or 8 cups of flour,
challah is not precise.
Notice the flour cloud.
Make a well.
A deep well to contain the grief.
Pour the yeast water into the well.
Let it seep in.
Add 3 eggs and 3 tablespoons of oil.
Take off your rings.
Let the dough silence your rage.
Pour yourself into the challah,
filament and fractal
fingertip and phial.
Now walk away.
Give it a few hours to grow.
Let it rise.
When you return, let the growth surprise you.
Add raisins, golden and black.
Summon helpers to braid.
Take a tiny marble of dough,
set it apart
to recall loss, sadness.
Braid as if this is your last act.
Round, double braid, single braid.
Trust completely, irrevocably, let go.
After the braids have doubled in size,
entrust them to the oven
under a coat of egg wash.
Let the aroma
permeate your village
with the smell of rest and kindness.
Bring forth the challah with both hands.
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