The entire hamotzy to challah eating process is very intricate and can seem like it is taking forever. Actually getting everyone to remove their butts from the chairs and get to the faucet can take several minutes. Then getting everyone to wash and sit down is definitely the worst part- I always wash after women, or else I would go nuts. Then you have to wait for everyone to settle down and finish with their last nu’s and uh’s and finally you have to weight for Lot’s wife to be turned into a pile of salt, then the cutting itself can be grueling and finally the distribution seems to be taking forever. Fine the women of the house gets first, I am so not about the order of kids and guests, I believe in first come first serve.
The hamotzy process can be short and sweet or long and grueling, that difference can make the meal, allow a happy transition to the actual food, or bring people to go on shooting rampages at their local school- the power is with the challah cutter, and usually they just don’t represent as they say in predominantly African American neighborhoods. Not representing can take many forms, there are those that think the washing station or sink is like the water cooler at work, suddenly you have half the table sitting patiently and a few folks playing Jewish Geography with the cup full of water in one hand. I think they are lucky that most challah knives are dulled from the hard to cut challah of newlywed years, or else they are liable to see me become to Boro Park Challah Knife murderer.
If I don’t stab them I usually let out an irate “uhhhhhh” or “nuuuuu” but it falls on deaf ears. They just go on talking about the latest sushi takeout or which bathroom cleaner is best, until finally the husband- usually the self appointed challah cutter as well, will try and negotiate a plea bargain with open hands and a couple shrugs of the shoulder. If this strategy doesn’t work he goes for the “Rabbi at Kiddush routine” and starts to say the bracha in an elevated slightly irritated voice.
The whole process just bugs me, for one thing I am usually at the point of hunger where I should be receiving UN rice drops under a hail of rebel gunfire. I am also extremely impatient when it comes to food, in shul I have to do multiple reconnaissance missions while dodging Kiddush bouncers and angry old sisterhood members yelling at me that I should not mess up their platters of week old entamins, stella dora cookies and tooth pick speared gefilte fish balls. Now imagine that you made it past all that, you are about to get to the holy grail and bam someone says to be continued. Actually I do recall that the best Knight Rider episodes were always like that- at least with challah you k now your going to get it at some point- sometimes up to 15 minutes later.
But its not just the wait, have you ever experienced salt shaker sign language and no one understands. You would think someone would have invented an official sign for “honey can you get the salt shaker” but there always seems to be some sort of misunderstanding, because they can never figure out of the downward hand motion is for the knife or the salt shaker which always seem to be missing in action. On a side not I find that figuring out which challah is going to be used- should be decided before the hungry folk are drooling over themselves in anticipation, its kind of like when you get pesicha and you have no idea which torah to bring out.
I also dislike the way most people cut the challah. I was thinking about this, this past shabbos as my friend Chaim, one of the more efficient challah surgeons I have ever seen. Not only does each person get a full piece- none of that portion control- but its done a quick and smooth manner. There were no pieces of challah flying all over the place, there wasn’t a pile of crumbs as is usually left behind by any challah surgeons, similar to the way regular surgeons leave instruments in peoples bellies, challah surgeons will usually leave several small pieces of challah behind in a pile of crumbs, the crumbs usually end up on the table and the small pieces end up in a little memorial to looking like Stonehenge around my soup bowl.
I do understand that dense challahs are the easiest to cut. They usually don’t leave a trail and personally they taste the best. For instance at shabbos lunch this week, someone made this kick ass sweet whole wheat challah. I am a sucker for whole wheat products, maybe because I know its better for you and I also know they tend to have less crap in them and easier to pronounce ingredients, it also happens to be that whole wheat challah is usually very dense and easy to cut. This challah happened to be of the type that could be used as a weapon, it was so heavy. But what happens when you have fluffy challah that cannot be cut so well? Break off pieces I always want to yell as I see the knife struggling through the bread like an icebreaker caught in the Northwest Passage.
I never understood portion control in the challah cutting process. Its understandable if there are 13 people, but when there are 5 people, there is no excuse. I mean you cant say that it gets the bread to people faster because it doesn’t. It always makes challah lovers like myself look like pigs, because you have to keep getting shipments sent down to you. It also leaves people with a lack of confidence in the dust for they might feel awkward to ask for challah over and over again- kind of like the folks that go to Kiddush and get pushed aside by hungry carefree confident people who don’t mind dropping the spoon in the cholent as long as they get first.
On a final note it seems that everyone has a different way of packaging challah and removing the packaging. Some folks like my dad need to have both challahs physically touching each other, others feel the need to only have one of the challahs in its birthday suit. Some people use matzo and I have even seen people cut the matzo and the challah together.
24 comments for “The Hamotzy process gets really annoying sometimes”