|Ask Rabbi Simmons|
Why are the two loaves of challah bread served on the Sabbath braided?
There is no Halachic requirement to have the Challot plaited. However, there are numerous customs as to the special food or bread eaten on Shabbat.
Some have the custom to eat foods covered like the Manna, that was covered on top and on the bottom. Conceivably, the Challot are braided so that they are covered from the top and also from the bottom, as it weaves its way around the Challa - (source: "Code of Jewish Law - Rma" O.C. 242:1).
Others say that the symbolism of the braids
comes from the 12 showbreads that rested on the special table ("Shulchan") in
the Holy Temple (one for each tribe). The braided challot reminds us of the unity
of Israel, and also links us to the Temple, which our own dinner table today symolizes
the altar. With blessings from Jerusalem,
Rabbi Shraga Simmons