The Midrash1 tells us that when Yitzchak was looking for a sign that Rivka was the right bride for him, he brought her into the tent of his mother, Sarah. When Sarah was alive, a cloud hovered over her tent, a candle burned continuously from Shabbos to Shabbos, and Hashem blessed the dough she baked. When she passed away these signs ceased and when Rivka arrived they resumed. These miracles correspond to the three mitzvos that are the foundation of a Jewish home. The dough was blessed because of Sarah’s fervor in the mitzvah of taking challah. This began with our matriarchs – Sarah, Rivka, Rochel, Leah – and continued throughout history. We learn from the Midrash that women and girls should be taught the importance of challah and participate in Hafrashas challah (separating challah), just as Rivka did, at the age of three.2
The connection between women and challah is emphasized in Halacha,3 where it states that one cannot separate challah without permission from the owner. At home, the woman is the owner of the challah. Therefore, contemporary poskim say that a helper or even a chef cannot take challah in the place of the woman, unless she has given her permission. Some take this a step further and say that even the husband cannot take challah without his wife’s permission, especially from bread that was baked for sanctifying Shabbos.
Another reason that the mitzvah of challah is entrusted to women is explained in the Midrash.4 When Hashem wished to create man, He mixed some earth and water together to form dough and shape Adam. The Sages thus call Adam, “The challah of the world.” When Chava sinned by causing Adam to eat the forbidden fruit, she brought death into the world, thereby ruining the challah. The mitzvah of separating the challah offers women a unique opportunity to rectify Chava’s sin.
In Bamidbar5 it states, “Upon your coming to the land to which I am bringing you, when you eat from the bread of the land you should set aside a portion for G-d. You should set aside the first of your dough.”
This mitzvah is one of many mitzvos that the Jewish people were commanded to fulfill in Eretz Yisroel. It is directly connected to the physical land of Israel. However, unlike most mitzvos that are dependent on the land (which were not instilled until fourteen years after the Jewish people entered the land and settled), the mitzvah of Hafrashas challah applied as soon as the Jewish people arrived in Eretz Yisroel. This highlights the importance of this mitzvah, since the Torah commanded Jewish people to practice this mitzvah immediately upon arriving in Israel instead of waiting until they conquered the inhabitants and settled the land.
Bread is an essential part of the human diet. By taking the first portion of dough and designating it for the Kohen, we are recognizing that along with the physical nutrition that bread gives, it also serves as a spiritual nutrient if used correctly and with the proper intentions. One should always remember that everything belongs to Hashem; therefore the first portion is designated for Hashem.
In addition, by giving the portion of challah to the Kohen, the poorest of people who did not even own land, one is essentially giving the challah to Hashem, which teaches us the importance of giving tzedakah.6
The mitzvah of separating challah only applies to challah that was formed into dough in the Land of Israel. Dough that was formed in the Diaspora only requires Hafrashas challah d’rabbonon (Rabbinical commandment).7 Chazal instructed us to separate challah in the Diaspora so that the mitzvah of challah would not be forgotten. Therefore, one will find that many poskim were more lenient on challah dough from the Diaspora, as opposed to dough made in Eretz Yisroel.
In reality, today even Hafrashas challah in Eretz Yisroel is d’rabbonon (Rabbinical), since there is no majority of Jewish people in the Land of Israel. Chazal extended the mitzvah of challah after the destruction of the Beis HaMikdash, like they did to many mitzvos that are dependent on the land. Even so, we are more stringent with challah in Eretz Yisroel than in the Diaspora. It states in Halacha that in Israel one must take challah prior to eating bread. However, in the Diaspora one can eat from the bread as long as there is a small amount of dough left from which to take challah.8 Many poskim say that this is only b’di’eved (as a correction after the fact) or on Shabbos when one forgot to take challah before Shabbos. But l’chatchila one should always take challah before eating from the bread.
Another difference in Halacha between Israel and the Diaspora is when there is a safek in din. For example, when baking several small cakes (each one smaller than the minimum amount required for challah [see below]) in an oven together, there is doubt if the oven would combine them as one dough and cause the cakes to require Hafrashas challah. In Israel we are stringent and require Hafrashas challah, but in the Diaspora we do not require Hafrashas challah.9
Types of Pastries
If the Mezonos bread has water mixed into it; one should take challah with a brocha.
Many cakes call for recipes without water. One should take challah without a brocha (unless water is added). The other factor to consider: If the amount of the other ingredients (oil, eggs, sugar, etc.) are larger than the amount of the flour and are the predominant taste, so much so that one cannot eat more than a little of the cake at a time, there are poskim that hold one would not separate challah at all. The common practice in commercial bakeries is to take challah from sheet cakes after they are baked, without a brocha, to avoid confusion. Note: At home a typical cake mixture may not have enough flour to require Hafrashas challah.
Water Bagels and Pretzel Bagels
Even though they are boiled before baking, they do require Hafrashas challah with a brocha.
Pancakes, Latkes, Bissli, Croutons and Doughnuts
Do not require Hafrashas challah since they are fried. There is an opinion that one should take challah from doughnuts and other thick dough without a brocha.
Pasta, including Lokshen, Spaghetti, Macaroni, Ravioli, Gnocchi
Requires separation of challah without a brocha, since one might bake these later on.
Cookies, Rugelach, Croutons and Knishes
If the recipe calls for water, then one should take challah with a brocha. If not one should not say a brocha. In addition, if the pastry is so sweet that one cannot eat so much at once, it may not require Hafrasha like the sheet cakes mentioned above.
challah is taken on dough only from one of the five Minei Dagan – wheat, barley, oat, spelt and rye. Other grains, like rice, soy, corn, etc., are not considered lechem (bread) and one does not take challah.
If a recipe calls for a mixture of flour from the five Minei Dagan and the amount of flour combined into dough is enough for a Shiur challah, then the mitzvah of Hafrashas challah can be fulfilled.10
If a recipe calls for wheat and rice flour and there is not enough wheat flour to require Hafrashas challah, Halacha requires that if the prominent taste of the mixture is wheat, one takes challah. Since rice tends to be a silent ingredient with a bland taste, even when there is more rice than wheat, challah must be taken.11 This Halacha is unique to a combination of rice and wheat. Other types of flour blended with wheat (or rice flour blended with one of the other four Minei Dagan) does not require Hafrashas challah, unless the majority of the flour mixture is wheat and there is enough wheat flour to require Hafrashas challah from the wheat alone. [Some poskim disagree and say that all starches are like rice with wheat in this regard.12]
A batch of dough that was made with flour and water requires Hafrashas challah. The same is true for flour mixed with any of the other Shivah Mashkim – seven liquids that allow foodstuffs to become impure, including milk, wine, olive oil, honey13 and dew. (Blood is the last of the Shivah Mashkim, but it is obviously not used in kosher cooking.) One is required to separate challah from such dough with a brocha. If, however, the dough was not mixed with one of the above and instead it was mixed with eggs, sugar, oil, etc., one would not take challah with a brocha since there is a question if such dough requires separating challah.14 In that case one should add a small amount of water to the mixture so that one can take challah with a brocha.15
challah is taken from dough regardless of whether it was prepared as a thick dough or thin batter (pourable). If the dough is thick and roll-able, then the mitzvah is done while the dough is still raw. If, however, the dough is a thin batter, then one should take challah after it is baked.16
Dough that is going to be cooked or fried does not require Hafrashas challah since it is not considered “lechem”. If the dough is thick, some poskim suggest taking challah without a brocha. All agree that if some of the dough will eventually be baked, one should take challah with a brocha.17
The amount of flour one should prepare in order to be obligated to separate challah is a tenth of an eifah. This is equivalent to the volume (not weight) of 43 and 1/5 eggs. The precise volume of the egg is questionable, according to some poskim, due to the possible downsizing of eggs today relative to the eggs used in the Talmudic times.
The Shulchan Oruch HaRav18 accepts today’s eggs as being the correct size. As stated, “How should this be measured?” One should take a large bowl (that can fit 43 eggs), fill it with water until the top, and then pour the water out into an even larger bowl. Then, one should place 43 eggs in the first bowl and pour the water from second bowl to fill the first bowl to the top. The remaining water in the second bowl is the proper volume to be obligated in Hafrashas challah. One should just add a little more to equal 1/5 of an egg. This water should be then placed in a measuring bowl. A line should be drawn where the water reaches so one can use this for future measuring of challah. The Oruch HaShulchan and others hold that one cannot measure with today’s eggs.
To convert 43 and 1/5 eggs from volume to weight would depend on a number of variables including, whether the flour is whole wheat, all purpose flour, high gluten, oat flour, etc. Each type of flour yields different weights per cup. Also, seasonal changes, moisture content and sifting all affect the final weight of flour.
Therefore, if the dough contains less than two and half pounds of flour, it is too small to take challah. If the dough contains more than two and a half pounds, challah should be taken without a brocha. If the dough is 4.95 pounds or more, then a brocha should be recited. There is a disagreement, however, whether a brocha should be said if there is less than 4.95 pounds, but more than 3.9 pounds of flour. One should follow one’s family custom.19
When the dough contains less than two and a half pounds of flour, one may combine two or more dough batches to achieve the correct amount needed for Hafrashas challah, as long as the owner does not mind that they are combined together. One then puts all the dough into one container, covers the container entirely to render it one batch of dough, and takes challah.
If two or more batches of dough are kneaded separately and each individual batch has enough flour to take challah, one can join (mitzaref) the dough in order to be mafrish all of the challah with one brocha. This can be done providing that it is min hamukaf – in the same vicinity. This method is commonly used in commercial bakeries where they bake multiple batches of dough in a day. The mashgiach will gather all the dough into one area and take challah from one of the batches of dough. This eliminates the obligation of taking challah for each individual batch. In a facility where the mashgiach or frum owner is not there daily, some will take this a step further and take challah with the intent to cover the next few days. In this case, the challah that was taken is left in the dough room to consider all the dough in the same area min hamukaf. It is preferable that the mashgiach instructs the workers to save a small piece of dough from each batch of dough so that the mashgiach can take challah from them.20
If a teacher is distributing dough to her class and each child ends up with a small portion of dough for their own challah, they do not need to take challah, since their individual portion does not have enough dough to require Hafrashas challah.
If, however, a housewife makes a large batch of challah dough and bakes challah to last several weeks, she does take challah. Even though each challah does not have a Shiur challah, the entire batch of dough has only one owner.
A Jew must own the dough at the time of kneading in order to require Hafrashas challah. Therefore, one may buy frozen challah dough manufactured by a non-Jew, with a proper hechsher, from a supermarket. Since it belonged to a non-Jew, one is not obligated to take challah from it.21
If a Jew and a non-Jew are partners and the Jew’s stake in the business is large enough that his portion alone in the dough would be sufficient to be obligated in challah, challah should be taken. For example if he owns 40% of the business, and 40% of each batch of dough is larger than 4.95 lbs. (or 3.9 lbs.), challah should be taken.
Many women give tzedakah before taking challah. After kneading the dough, while standing, one should hold a small amount of dough (a k’zayis – about the size of an egg) in the right hand, without detaching it, and recite the brocha, “Baruch atah Hashem, Elokeinu melech ha’olam, asher k’dishanu b’mitzvosav v’tzivanu l’hafrish challah.” (Some add “min h’eisa”.) At that point, one removes the dough and says, “Harei Zu challah. This is challah.” In the event that one is separating challah without a brocha, one should still say “Harei Zu challah” after separation.
Immediately after the hafrasha, the challah is then burned until it is completely charred. It is forbidden to burn the challah in the same oven that one bakes the rest of the dough. (One may not benefit from the challah dough since it belongs to the Kohen, and the Kohen himself can not benefit from the challah since he is impure.) If the challah dough is wrapped in foil, it can be burned in the same oven after baking the rest of dough. Alternatively, one can burn it directly on the stovetop. If one cannot burn it, he may double wrap it and dispose of it respectfully.22
If the separated challah dough was lost or was inadvertently disposed, one does not need to make another hafrasha.23 However, if the challah got mixed back into the rest of dough, a Rov should be consulted, since there might be an option of Hataras Neder to nullify the original separation and then one could take challah again.24
As with most areas of Halacha, there are many opinions and customs regarding Hafrashas challah. If one has a specific question regarding the practical application of any of the issues discussed above, please contact your local Orthodox rabbi. In the merit of the great mitzvah of Hafrashas challah, and our efforts to perform it with dedication and care, may we speedily merit the final Geulah and the opportunity to serve challah to the Kohanim in the Beis HaMikdash.
1. בראשית רבה ס, טז.
2. אולם קטנים אינם כשרים להפריש חלה לבדם. ובדיעבד כשקטנה בת י”א שנים הפרישה יש מתירים בשו”ע יו”ד סי’ של”א סל”ג.
3. יו”ד סי’ שכ”ח ס”ג, ש”ך סק”ה, ט”ז סק”ב, באו”ח סי’ רמ”ב ס”ד,ובכף החיים שם סקכ”ג וכ”ד.
4. ילקוט שמעוני בראשית רמז ל”ב
5. ט”ו, י”ז
6. לקוטי שיחות ח”ב עמ’ 326 ע”פ הרמב”ם סוף הל’ איסורי מזבח.
7. יו”ד סי’ שכ”ב ועי’ באריכות באנצ’ תלמודית ערך חלה סקט”ז. הראשונים מוסיפים עוד טעם, מכיון שהחיוב הוא בשעת גלגול העיסה הוה כמו מצוה שחובת הגוף הנוהגת גם בחו”ל.
8. גמ’ ביצה ט., יו”ד סי’ שכ”ג, או”ח סי’ תנ”ז, מג”א שם סק”ג, ט”ז שם מיקל לכתחילה, שו”ע הרב שם סקי”ב שמדת החסידות להפריש קודם.
9. שספק דרבנן להקל. ועי’ ביו”ד סי’ שכ”ה ס”א בספיקא דדינא, ש”ך שם סק”ב, וביו”ד סי’ ש”ל לגבי ספק במציאות, שהט”ז שם סק”ג מיקל,והש”ך שם סק”ח מסתפק בזה ומכריע שיפריש בלא ברכה. ועוד נפק”מ בחו”ל הוא לגבי ביטול שי”א שבטל ברוב ואי”צ ביטול בס’ או בק”א כדין חלת הארץ. וגם י”א שאין דין ביטול איסור לכתחילה כיון שעיקרו דרבנן. ועו”ע באנצ’ תלמודית ערך חלה סקט”ז.
10. סק”ה.יו”ד סי’ שכ”ד ס”ב,ט”ז שם סק”ב, ש”ך ש
11. מתני’ חלה פ”ג מ”ז, שו”ע יו”ד סי’ שכ”ד ס”ט, ט”ז שם סק”ט כתב “משמט אע”ג דלית שיעור חלה בדגן לחוד”. וי”א דאינו חייב אא”כ יש בו כזית בכדי אכילת פרס, וכן מכריע השו”ע הרב באו”ח סי’ תמ”ב?, וי”א שאינו חייב אא”כ יש בדגן לחוד שיעור חלה. ועו”ע באנצ’ תלמודית ערך חלה סי’ט”ו.
12. ועי’ בהערה קודמת, ובזה י”א דהוה כמו אורז לגמרי (בש”ך שם סק”יז), וי”א שאם יש בה או כשיעור חלה או רוב דגן אזי יש חיוב חלה, וי”א דצריך שניהם גם שיעור חלה וגם רוב דגן (א”ז סק”ט), ועי’ באריכות בשו”ת הצ”צ יו”ד סי’ רל”ו שמכריע כשיטה הג’ לענין לעקאך. וע”ע במנח”י ח”ח סי’ קט ובתןרת הארץ פ”ד.
13. דבש דבורים ועי’ שו”ע או”ח סי’ קנ”ח בתחילתו.
14. לבני ספרד יש להפריש בברכה ע”פ דברי המחבר ביו”ד סי’ שכ”ט ס”ט, ועי’ בשו”ת יבי”א ח”ה או”ח סמ”ב, ועי’ בש”ך שם סק”ט, ובפ”ת סק”ב. ובכ”ז עי’ באנצ’ תלמודית ערך חלה ס”י.
15. (ע”פ מהריק”ש ערך לחם יו”ד שכ”ט ס”ט). וע”ע בפ”ת סק”ג שאם הוסיף מלח שלנו שנתבשל במים הוכשרו.
16. יו”ד סי’ שכ”ט בתחילתו וש”ך שם סק”ב, שו”ת שבט הלוי ח”ח סי’ רמ”ד.
17. יו”ד שכ”ט ס”ג וס”ד, ש”ך שם סק”ד, ט”ז סק”א, פ”ת סק”א, ומנהג המהר”ם היה לאפות קצת לצאת מידי ספק. אולם כשאופה קצת לברך על ההפרשה, ועי’ ש”ך שם סק”ו.
18. או”ח סי’ תמ”ו ס”ב, ועי’ בכ”ז בשיעורי תורה בתחילתו (לר’ חיים נאה), שיעור מקוה עמ’ קפא, ערוך השלחן יו”ד סי’ שכ”ד ס”ג-ה, פ”ת שם סק”א בשם הצל”ח שהבצים שלנו נתקטנו לכמו חצי ביצה שלהם.וכן הוא בהנהגות הגר”א.
19. לר’ חיים נאה ע”פ שו”ע הרב שם יפריש בברכה, וכן מנהג בירושלים,ולערוך השלחן והצל”ח יפריש בלא ברכה ובן בהנהגות הגר”א.
20. ראה מנחת יצחק ח”ד סי’ נט בארוכה שהפועלים ישאירו מכל עיסה ועיסה חלק קטן בשביל המשגיח, והמשגיח יפריש חלה מכל החלות וגם מזה ויאמר “הריני מפריש חלה זו על כל מה שיש פה ועל כל מה שכבר נילוש ונאפה אצל זה הנחתום ולא נפרש עוד חלה, בין על מה שבעין בכל מקום שהוא ובין על כל מה שכבר נאכל.
21. יו”ד שכ”ט ס”ג.
22. מנח”י ח”ד סי’ י”ג, ובפרט שהיום שורפים גם האשפה.
23. יו”ד סי’ שכ”ב פ”ת סק”ב.
24. רמ”א יו”ד שכ”ג ס”א, טור בשם הרא”ש, הב”י, הסה”ת והש”ך. ועי’ בפ”ת סק”א שאם בטל ברוב יש לסמוך להקל.