Saturday, February 03, 2007

I love to bake bread.

Yes, I know, in a traditional mode, one does not bake bread on Shabbat. One bakes challah on yom shishi [Friday] but one does not bake on Shabbat.

My understanding of Shabbat, though, is that it is a day different from all other days, a day of rest, a taste of olam habah [the world to come], a day for enjoyment and family. And it is the one day of the week I bake. My sweetie and I spend Shabbat afternoon sitting in the warm kitchen, gradually assembling a nice soup, shmoozing with family and friends, smooching if family and friends don't show up, and I make bread.

Once upon a time, about 30 years ago, I made all the bread for my family. Breadmaking was sanity, health, and love. Now I do other things (perhaps saner things?) for sanity, health, and love, but on Shabbat afternoon, I love to bake a loaf of bread. Not challah -- usually a double measure of bread, one loaf of plain and one of whatever suits my fancy that day. Meanwhile a soup of odds and ends and leftovers and canned tomatoes simmers on the stove, and the door is open to whoever appears.

In difficult times, Shabbat keeps us going. For me, right now, the loaves of bread rising in the warm spot near the cooktop speak of the miracle of yeast that comes back from dry deadness, the elasticity of love.