Last week I wanted to bake challah. I had no flour or yeast, and figured I’d be tired by the end of the week. How could I make challah? I decided that I would take one action a day and see what happened. On Tuesday, I purchased the flour and yeast. Wednesday evening, I pulled out the rest of the dry ingredients, bowl, mixing spoon, and the recipe. And on Thursday evening, I didn’t think I could do anything else but put the dry ingredients in the bowl. That meant, I would bake on Friday. With a full writing schedule on Friday, I might not get to the baking.

What’s my option? Should I try to prepare tonight? It’s already 7:30 PM and the dough needs to rise for two hours!

I decided to try. While working on each step in my recipe, I connected spiritually to women from many generations before me who prepared challah for Shabbat or chagim (holidays). The water, oil, and eggs went into the bowl. I realized kneading time—the activity that requires the most energy—had arrived. I didn’t notice the time; I kept focused on the task. Almost magically, the individual ingredients became dough.

As I shaped the dough into rolls, I remembered the first woman who taught me that technique. My mind wandered back to her kitchen where we chatted about everything from challah-baking to child-raising…and even writing!

The sticky dough was hard to work with, so I added more flour. I prayed that dough would turn into tasty loaves. I placed the dough in a warm spot and prayed for the dough to rise quickly, although I hadn’t used quick-rise yeast. About an hour later I looked at the dough that was about to overflow the bowl!

As I shaped the loaves and rolls, I prayed some more. This time, I prayed not for the dough but for friends who want children, friends who want to get married, for all of us who need respectful livelihood, and for a speedy recovery to everyone I know who is sick. The whole wheat dough looked like fine wood on which I shellacked the egg white. While the challah baked, there was a woody-wheat smell throughout my apartment.

At the end of the process that I didn’t think I could do, I had spiritual and physical tasty whole wheat challah to share!


And a sense of accomplishment! I committed to one small step, took it, saw that I could accomplish it, and could move on to the next step.

Here’s my challah-baking-task-accomplishing recipe:

  1. Create a do-able plan that has three to five steps.
  2. Commit to accomplishing one step.
  3. Pray or take some spiritual action before that first step.
  4. Take the first step.
  5. Do more spiritual activity.
  6. This can be a simple plea like, “Help me.”
  7. Take another step.
  8. Repeat steps 5 and 6 until you complete your plan.
  9. Look at your accomplishment and celebrate!