Apr 20, 2017
On This Shabbos: Shlissel Challah

In many Jewish homes, a Shlissel Challah (Yiddish for key) will be served this Shabbos. There are different ways to do it.

There is a custom in Jewish communities to bake a Shlissel Challah (Yiddish for key) for the Shabbos after Pesach. These Challos are best known as a segula for parnasa and livelihood, though there are other reasons for it.

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.

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 Hatodaa 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 Lkol Chai -R Chaim Palagi, Beis Habichira). From a mishna we already see that there is a connection between Pesach and parnasa.

Different ways of making Shlissel Challah

As mentioned above 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 Hatodaah 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 womens mitzvah of challah. Here too, the key is on top and the challah on the bottom.

How to make Challah in the shape of a key

Step by step tutorial on how to shape your challah dough into a key by Joy of Kosher.

Click here for Jamie Geller's famous Challah Recipe.

Now, how to shape the key, see photos below for step by step instructions (using play dough for illustration purposes, but it is also fun to play with):

Most Read Most Comments

Opinions and Comments
The Shlisel Challah
As far as I know this is not a Minhag Chabad.
Growing up in a Chabad home with all Chabad neighbors I never heard of it until about the late 70's from a friend of mine who came from a different home in Williamsburg and got married to a Chabad man.
I was told by a Rov from Chabad "Mir hoben eigene Minhogim vos darfun mir unnemen andere".
(4/20/2017 9:06:43 AM)
On good authority, the Heavenly locks have gone digital
The Heavenly locks have gone digital and now use NFC cards to open the locks. From now on please use a square matzoh to symbolize the schlissel. Indeed, Yidden of old knew that one day the locks would resemble matzohs and so chose the Shabbos after pesach (when we use exclusively matzoh) as the week to bake shchlissel challah.
(4/20/2017 11:16:53 AM)
chabad minhag
there is a minhag each year to point out that this shlissel challa is not a chabad minhag :)
(4/20/2017 12:58:37 PM)
From sefer minhagai chabad
(4/20/2017 2:34:03 PM)
minhagai chabad YES or NO whats the story???????
(4/20/2017 6:42:44 PM)
When chassidim do it - it becomes our minhag
Rebbe used Shmerling chocolate, but minhag Chabad based on what chassidim do is not to use ANY products. Go figure.
(4/20/2017 8:39:01 PM)
to #1
Every year col post an article post pesach about shlissel challa. And every year someone who is more righteous than thou had to comment that it's not minhag chabad.
Any segula for parnassa I'll take.
(4/20/2017 9:24:49 PM)
A thought:
, doesn't mean "don't do it" (unless it says , ...), there is nothing wrong with doing it, and it is actually a beautiful minhag...
There is no mitzva - and it definitely not a chassidishe thing to - cool off others' enthusiasm for Jewish things!
(4/20/2017 9:27:12 PM)
Best segular for Parnosso is to get off one's........
And work
Join a Union too
And obtain tenure

(4/20/2017 11:36:33 PM)
Want a Segulah for Parnasah?
Learn Chitas Rambam
(4/21/2017 1:21:01 AM)
Didn't hear about it from the Rebbe
By Chassidei Chabad it's Mekubal: If we didn't hear it from our Rebbe we don't do it. End of story.
(4/21/2017 1:23:56 AM)
Reb Laibel Bistritzki
Mrs. Bistritzki would bake shlisel challa every year and send to the Rebbe and Rebitzen, enough of a makor for me.
(4/21/2017 11:25:25 AM)
The Aptar Rav spoke against the Alter Rebbe
Which is why he is not quoted by our Rebbeim. The Rehbe said this on Shavuos " or ".

Why do his minhag when our Rebbeim won't talk about him?

Something to think about.
As Lubavitchers, our Rebbe's words come before all.
(4/21/2017 12:31:56 PM)
Why is a key a segula for parnassa?
What are some other reasons?
(4/21/2017 3:45:05 PM)
old chabad custom
Ask around. You'll find out that this custom was around in Lubavitch for generations.
(4/21/2017 3:49:48 PM)
Why is a key a segula for parnassa?
What are some other reasons?
(4/22/2017 5:32:35 PM)
# 13
That is a very serious allegation
Are you sure
Can you be more specific
Have you seen the quoted source yourself
(4/22/2017 7:16:08 PM)
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