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Jan 28 2011

Friday Night: The Great Challah Debate

By at 11:40 am

Do you slice or rip?

My husband and I tend to agree on most of the important things. We’re both politically liberal, we agree that 30 Rock is one of the funniest shows on the air, and we both think that street food tends to be the tastiest stuff around. There is, however, one major area in which we just can’t find common ground.

Challah. He’s a slicer. I’m a ripper. It’s a problem.

I’ve known that my husband was a challah cutter since before we got married, but I’ve never thought to question why such a generally sensible man would espouse such an obviously incorrect opinion. So, I finally sat down and asked him.

Josh cited several quite pragmatic reasons for slicing the challah each Friday night. Cutting creates less surface area than ripping, which means the challah stays fresh longer. Slicing preserves the integrity of any uneaten challah, which allows for the possibility of French toast in the morning. Finally, he insists that it’s easier to maintain appropriate portion control with neatly cut slices.

As if that weren’t enough, Josh went on to cite a few religious reasons for cutting the challah. (Word of warning: never get into a debate with a Jewish day school graduate. It’s just not worth it.) He believes that the primary reference to “ripping” or “tearing” in the Talmud involves rending one’s garments in times of mourning—clearly not an appropriate action at the dinner table. Yadda, yadda, yadda. Furthermore, in the days of the Temple, Jews showed their devotion to God by sacrificing animals, which was done with a swift, clean cut. Since the beit ha’mikdash (the Temple which used to be located on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem) was destroyed, our dinner tables have become our altars, meaning we should cut the challah.

Yes, those are all reasonable arguments. I suppose. The thing is, he’s just wrong.

I don’t claim to have any such fancy-pants reasons for why I prefer tearing the challah. There’s just something so visceral and delicious about sinking my hands into a warm piece of bread. I love grabbing those big braided knobs, each bite a combination of sweet crust and warm doughy goodness. Tearing challah is the great equalizer; everyone at the table (including our 2 year old daughter) can reach over and pull off a hunk. Perhaps most importantly, tearing is faster when I’m hungry. And when there’s warm challah on the table, I’m always hungry.

You may be wondering how this grave conflict is resolved each Friday night. Back before we had kids, I let Josh slice away, mostly because I was hoping for his amazing French toast in the morning. But now we have a toddler who loves nothing more than to sink her grubby little hands into a fresh challah. Oh, and I’m the Mommy, so I win. We rip.

Epilogue: After I finished writing this article, I showed it to Josh. He agreed with everything, but noted that I had failed to mention the most important reason why he is so adamantly pro-slicing—because it annoys the hell out of me.

Well, shoot. I guess he wins after all.

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3 Responses to Friday Night: The Great Challah Debate

  1. Judy Kropf says:

    Well, if you make two challot, I guess you can pull one and slice the other. Shalom bayit prevails! Cheers, Judy

  2. Sharon Gorberg says:

    Hi Naumburg and Herzig-Marx family!

    This is such a funny mostly because of Josh’s well reasoned, backed up with facts presentation of why he slices the challah. (impressive reasoning I must add)

    Since it is not unusual for 2 parents to disagree on a myriad of child rearing issues as well as numerous other things, I LOVED your words Karla “I’m the Mommy so I win!”

    As long as Josh doesn’t feel the need to slice EVERY Shabbat and can share he receives his challah I’d say you guys are on solid footing. :) :) :)
    PS I love your posts Karla!!

  3. michelle says:

    Well, another great one, bubbala!!! Keep up the good work. xox


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