WHAT YOU KNEAD TO KNOW
By: Rabbi Dovid Heber
One of the many ways Klal Yisroel serves the Ribbono Shel Olam is through the performance of mizvos hateluyos ba’aretz, mitzvos that are dependent on land. Those who live in the land of Israel have many opportunities to fulfill these mitzvos. In chutz la’aretz, the mitzvah of hafrashas Challah is one of the only agricultural mitzvos that we are obligated to perform.1
It is well known that this is one of the mitzvos performed preferentially by women. Furthermore, one honors the Shabbos by baking and being mafrish Challah on Erev Shabbos.2
The following are halachic guidelines, based on the psak of Rabbi Moshe Heinemann Shlita.3
Products kneaded from chameishes minei dagan (wheat, spelt, barley, oats, and rye) are obligated in hafrashas Challah. Baked goods produced from other grains are exempt from this mitzvah. One is obligated in hafrashas Challah only when the dough was mixed/kneaded while in the possession of a Jew. If the dough was kneaded in the possession of a gentile, and the Jew then acquires the product, there is no obligation for hafrashas Challah.4 For example, Challah is not taken from bread or cookies manufactured by a non-Jewish company, even when a Jewish customer buys them. The same is true when one purchases frozen dough kneaded while it was owned by a gentile. However, if one purchases dough that was mixed/kneaded while it was owned by a Jew who was not mafrish Challah, one must perform hafrashas Challah as soon as possible.
Min haTorah, the amount of flour one must knead to be obligated in hafrashas Challah is an “asiris ha’aifa.” This is equivalent to the volume of 431/5 eggs.5 The exact volume of an “egg” is questionable due to various factors, including the possible “downsizing” of the eggs used today in comparison with those used in Talmudic times. L’halacha, one should be mafrish Challah when kneading 2.6 lbs. of flour, which on average is equivalent to 82/3 cups of flour.6 However, a bracha is not recited for this amount. If one kneads a smaller amount of flour, one is not mafrish Challah.7
There are two customs as to the amount that must be kneaded to require a bracha. Some individuals recite a bracha when kneading 3.675 lbs. or more of flour (on average, 121/4 cups).8 Many only recite a bracha when kneading 4.95 lbs. of flour (i.e. almost the entire contents of a 5 lb. bag of flour – on average, 161/2 cups of flour).9 Individuals should follow their family custom.
These measurements apply when baking bread or any other hamotzi product. When kneading dough for baking pas haba’ah b’kisnin (e.g. cake and cookies), for boiling (e.g. noodles), or for frying, one is mafrish Challah if 2.6 lbs. (82/3 cups) of flour are used. A bracha is not recited even if more than 5 lbs. of flour are used.10
4. The Procedure
After kneading,11 while standing, one should hold with the right hand,12 a k’zayis of the dough (without detaching it) and recite13 the bracha: “…Asher kidshanu b’mitzvosav v’tzivanu l’hafrish Challah” (some add the words min ha’eesa14). One should then pull off the dough.15 At this point, some recite the words “harei zu Challah” (one may not say this until the piece has been pulled off). When being mafrish without a bracha, one should simply pull off the dough and say “harei zu Challah.” If a liquidy batter (e.g. chocolate cake) is prepared, one must perform the hafrasha only after the product is baked.16
The Challah should then be burned17 as soon as possible until it is completely charred. One should not store the Challah for future burning (e.g. freeze it for burning at biur chametz on Erev Pesach), as this undermines one of the reasons we burn the dough, shelo yavo leydai takala, that one will not accidentally mix this dough (which is Challah) with regular dough and inadvertently bake and eat it.
The Challah may be burned in a regular oven or toaster oven if it is wrapped in foil. However, one may not burn the Challah in an oven that is simultaneously baking bread or other products.18 After burning the Challah, it should be wrapped in something waterproof and discarded.
- If one accidentally discarded the Challah before burning it, nothing further is required, as the hafrasha (which constitutes the main part of the mitzvah) has been performed. In this case, one may eat the bread as usual.
- If one forgot to be mafrish Challah until after baking, one may be mafrish Challah on fully baked goods. A bracha is recited (if enough flour was originally used) and one pulls off a piece of bread from a roll or loaf of bread and burns it.19If one remembers on Shabbos that Challah was not separated, one may not be mafrish Challah until Shabbos is over.20 If the dough was kneaded in chutz la’aretz, one may continue eating. A piece should be left over until after Shabbos, at which time one is mafrish from the remaining piece.21 One may not simply take the leftover piece and burn it – a ma’aseh hafrasha is necessary. This hafrasha after Shabbos “works” on all the products that came from the original kneaded dough, even if the rest of the baked goods are elsewhere or one has eaten them. In Eretz Yisroel, one may not eat the product until one is mafrish Challah(after Shabbos ends).22
- If Challah was inadvertently mixed back into the regular dough.23 – see here: https://www.star-k.org/articles/kashrus-kurrents/5061/insights-from-the-institute-when-challah-separation-goes-a-rye/
6. Combination of Doughs
One of the most complex yet important aspects of hilchos Challah is “combining” two doughs into one. This issue, known as hitztarfus, can be divided into three categories:
- Each Individual Dough is Less Than a Shiur – If two or more doughs individually do not have a shiur large enough to require hafrashas Challah, but collectively add up to a shiur (as addressed earlier), under certain conditions halacha states they are mitztaref (collectively add up to a shiur). For example, if one kneads three separate doughs, each using two pounds of flour (i.e. individually, there is no obligation to be mafrish Challah on each small batch) they now collectively add up to six pounds. If one does not care that the doughs are mixed with each other,25 one is obligated in hafrashas Challah if they meet any of the following conditions:a. The doughs are in one vessel, and preferably touching. If either dough rises above the top of the vessel, the doughs should be covered to combine the entire contents.b. All the doughs are wrapped together on the bottom and top (e.g. in one sheet of plastic).c. One places the doughs on the table and pushes them together allowing them to bond well enough so that when one is pulled from the other, a chunk is pulled off the attached dough.26
The above also applies if someone baked several batches that add up to a shiur hachayav b’challah (a large enough amount that one is obligated in hafrashas Challah – see section II) and stores them in one bag or container. For example, if a woman uses two pounds of flour to bake rolls on three different occasions, and stores all the unwrapped27 rolls in one container, the six pounds are now mitztaref and she is required to be mafrish Challah. The same applies to other products, including cookies, stored in a bag or plastic container.Under any of these conditions, if the doughs combine to make the required shiur, one is mafrish Challah from one dough. This action would take care of Challah for all the doughs. For example, if one kneaded two 3 lb. batches and placed the doughs in one container, allowing them to touch, one would recite a bracha and only be mafrish a k’zayis from one of the batches (since there is now a total of 6 lbs.). If one kneaded two 11/2 lb. batches (i.e. if each dough was left alone they would not require hafrashas Challah), and placed them in a container allowing them to touch, one is mafrish a k’zayis from one dough without a bracha.
- One or More Doughs Have a Shiur – If two doughs are kneaded separately and each dough individually has a shiur that is obligated in Challah, these doughs are mitztaref if they are min hamukaf – “in the same vicinity.” This means as follows: If they are not in containers they are min hamukaf if they are in front of the individual being mafrish Challah or the doughs are anywhere in the same room.28 If the doughs are in containers, they are min hamukaf if the containers are open and next to each other.29 Under these conditions, one may be mafrish Challah from one dough and it will apply to all the doughs that are min hamukaf. For example, if one kneads two doughs, that each use 5 lbs. of flour, and the doughs were on different tables in the same room, one may be mafrish on one dough and have in mind for this separation to work on the other dough.30The same halacha applies if one dough has a shiur and the other doughs do not.<31 For example, if one dough consists of 5 lbs. of flour and the other dough consists of 2 lbs., and they both are in front of the individual being mafrish Challah or on tables in the same room, the 2 lb. dough is mitztaref with the 5 lb. dough. One is only required to be mafrish a k’zayis from the 5 lb. dough.
- Forgetting to Take Off Challah From the Original Batch – As previously indicated, if one kneads a batch that has a shiur that requires hafrashas Challah and forgets to take Challah until after it was baked, one may still be mafrish on the fully baked goods. It is not necessary to bring all the loaves together for the hafrasha. For example, if one bakes six loaves of bread from one batch using a total of 5 lbs. of flour, and these six loaves are now stored in different freezers, one can simply perform the hafrasha on one loaf, even if the other loaves are not present.
7. Special Cases
- Dividing – If one bakes using a shiur hachayav b’challah with the intention of separating the finished product into smaller items for distribution, one should be mafrish challah without a bracha. For example, if a first grade class kneads a batch of dough using 5 lbs. of flour, and the batch is divided into ten parts, with each child baking her own roll to bring home for Shabbos, they should be mafrish challah without a bracha .32The same applies when baking for Mishloach Manos. If an individual kneads a large batch of dough (e.g. using 5 lbs. of flour) with the intention of distributing the baked goods (e.g. rolls for Mishloach Manos) to others, one does not recite a bracha when being mafrish challah. To recite a bracha there must be a shiur obligated in challah used for one family. For example, If one baked using 10 lbs of flour and 5 lbs are for one family and the other 5 lbs are for distribution one would recite a bracha as the 5 lbs for the one family is enough to obligate one in hafrashas challah.If one person bakes dough with 5 lbs. of flour and uses half of it this Shabbos and freezes the rest for eating next Shabbos, Challah should be taken with a bracha after the dough is kneaded.
- Baking without Water – If one bakes without using any water, but rather bakes using only fruit juice or vegetable oil, a bracha is not recited and one cannot burn the Challah. Due to the complexity regarding this halacha, the Shulchan Aruch33 advises that one should always use water34 when baking a shiur hachayav b’challah. The reason is as follows: Challah can only be burned when it is tamai (impure). To become tamai, it must first become “muchsher L’kabel tumah.” This means water or other specific liquids 35 have come in contact with the challah. If none of these specified liquids are used, the challah can never become tamai and therefore can not be burned and a bracha is not recited. It should be noted that nowadays wheat kernels used to make regular wheat flour are tempered with water. This process makes them muchsher l’kabel tumah. Oat kernels are steamed and the condensation makes the kernels wet thereby making them also muchsher l’kabel tumah. Therefore, nowadays when baking with regular wheat flour 36 or oat flour one may l’chatchila knead these products without water, recite a bracha when being mafrish (if there is a shiur), and burn the challah after hafrasha. The problems related to kneading without water as addressed by the Shulchan Aruch would still apply when baking with rye or spelt flour since these grains are not tempered (unless they are made into flakes). Similarly, the problems would apply to barley flour and whole wheat flour since the kernels that are ground to make these types of flour are not always tempered or steamed making it possible that they are not muchsher l’kabel tumah. Therefore, one should only knead whole wheat, barley, spelt, and rye flour with at least a small amount of water or with one of the liquids that is muchsher l’kabel tumah.
The Gemara37 tells us that Chazal instituted hafrashas Challah in chutz la’aretz so that Klal Yisroel would not forget this special mitzvah. The nashim tzidkaniyos who cherish this mitzvah are a testimony to Chazal’s master plan and ensure that this mitzvah – with all the details – will be remembered l’dorai doros v’ad olam.
1. The obligation min haTorah for hafrashas Challah requires two conditions: 1) that the dough is kneaded in Israel, and 2) a majority of Klal Yisroel resides in Israel. Nowadays, it is only d’rabonon, even in Israel. In chutz la’aretz, it is a “d’rabonon of a d’rabonon” (i.e. the obligation is “weaker” since most of Klal Yisroel is not in Eretz Yisroel and we reside in chutz la’aretz). The ramifications of this will be discussed.
2. See Rama O.C. 242:1 and Mishna Berurah (ibid.).
3. This article elaborates on a previous Challah article written by Rabbi Heinemann in Kashrus Kurrents Winter 1995.
4. If a Jew and non-Jew are partners, then if the percentage owned by the Jew is a shiur hachayav b’challah, one must be mafrish Challah. For example, if a Jew owns 40% of the dough, and a gentile 60%, one is obligated in hafrashas Challah if 40% of the dough is a shiur hachayav b’challah. Two or more Jewish partners are obligated in hafrashas Challah if the entire dough is a shiur hachayav b’challah.
5. There are six eggs in a “log” – 24 lugin in a sa’eh – three sa’eh in an aifa, so there are 432 eggs in an aifa – a tenth of this (an “asiris ha’aifa”) is 43.2 or 431/5 eggs.
6. An 8 oz. cup of flour generally weighs between 4.2 and 5.3 oz. There is no precise conversion between the weight and volume of flour. The temperature, methods of storage, type of flour, how one fills the measuring cup, and whether it is sifted, can all impact on this amount. For example, if it is hot and humid, the flour will expand, thereby increasing the volume (but not the weight). Similarly, one cup of “scooped and tapped” flour will weigh more than one cup of “sprinkled and leveled” flour. One cup of bread flour weighs more than one cup of all-purpose flour. In this article, the following calculations are used (based on our testing and observations): The average weight of one cup of flour is 4.8 oz., which also means 1 lb. of flour will fill 31/3 cups.
7. One should not intentionally minimize the amount of flour in order to exempt oneself.
10. See Aruch Hashulchan Y.D. 329:14.
11. L’halacha, one may perform hafrasha before or after the dough rises. One may not be mafrish from flour before it is mixed.
12. A left handed person should use her left hand.
13. If one forgot to recite the bracha and realized after the hafrasha, the hafrasha is good and a bracha should no longer be recited.
14. As will be discussed, b’dieved, one can be mafrish Challah from fully baked goods. When doing this, one should not add the words “min ha’eesa” to the end of the bracha since it is no longer a dough (eesa).
15. May’ikar hadin, one can pull off a morsel the size of a barley grain. However, the custom is to be mafrish a k’zayis – 1.33 fl. oz. (40 ml) – a piece of dough the size of a golf ball. One may not give the entire loaf as Challah. One has to be mafrish – taking off Challah and leaving some behind to eat.
16. If one was mafrish from the liquidy batter, there are different opinions whether one must be mafrish Challah again. The Sefer Leket Ha’omer (4:f7) says it should be performed again after it is baked (without a bracha).
17. Min HaTorah, the Challah one is mafrish should be given to a Kohein. Nowadays, under almost all circumstances, kohanim are tamai and may not eat Challah. Therefore, we burn it (similar to kadshim that became tamei and could no longer be eaten, that was ultimately burned). As will be indicated, a second reason Challah is burned is shelo yavo leydai takala – that one does not inadvertently come to eat the Challah.
18. This would constitute deriving benefit from the Challah (i.e. it “fuels” the oven) which is prohibited.
19. See footnote 14.
20. Shulchan Aruch O.C. 339:4 One reason it may not be performed on Shabbos is because it is neer’eh k’misakain (it appears as if something is being “fixed”). One may not perform hafrashas Challah on Yom Tov on dough that was kneaded before Yom Tov. However, if one kneads and bakes on Yom Tov, one may perform hafrashas Challah on Yom Tov – however, the dough may not be burned until after Yom Tov.
21. If enough flour was originally used, a bracha is recited (similar to a hafrasha after baking which requires a bracha).
22. As indicated above, the mitzvah in chutz la’aretz is not as strict because it is a “d’rabonon of a d’rabonon.” Hence, in chutz la’aretz one may continue eating on Shabbos, whereas in Eretz Yisroel one may not.
23. If the Challah is 1/101 or less in the regular dough, then it is batel and may be eaten. If it is more than one part in 101, a possible solution is to be “matir neder” on the Challah as addressed in the link above.
24. See Leket Haomer – end of chap. 2. Due to the complexity of this issue, one should consult a Rav.
25. For example, if a woman kneaded identical doughs, hitztarfus would apply under any of the conditions listed above. However, if one is makpid not to allow doughs to mix, there is no hitztarfus of these doughs. For example, cake and bread are not mitztaref, since they are generally not mixed. Similarly, the Leket Haomer (6:f32) says a dough and baked item are also not mitztaref. This example is only true if the baked item was from a different batch. However, if the baked item was originally kneaded with the remaining dough, they are mitztaref since they were originally kneaded as one (see V-3). As to whether hitztarfus applies to doughs from different minei dagan (e.g. one kneads dough from wheat and a second dough from oats or spelt), one should ask a shaila.
26. It should be noted that if two doughs that are individually less than the shiur for a bracha are in two different keilim, they are not mitztaref to recite a bracha, even if one places a towel over them or allows the vessels to touch (see Leket Haomer 6:14 & 16). Rather, one of the methods above should be used to be mitztaref the doughs.
27. If they are wrapped and then placed in one container, Challah is taken, however, a bracha is not recited. Similarly, if a woman baked and placed in plastic bags 2 lbs. of rolls at three different times, and then stored them all (6 lbs.) in one freezer – Challah is taken without a bracha.
28. See Shulchan Aruch Y.D. 325:2.
29. If the containers are closed or they are not near each other, b’dieved they are considered min hamukaf if they are in the same room (see Mishna Brura 457:7 and Shaar Hatziyon ibid. 13).
30. See Shmiras Shabbos K’hilchasa 42:f38 who says in this case one may also be mafrish Challah from the kneaded dough and have in mind for this separation to work on the baked dough if one of the doughs was already baked. For example, if one has a 5 lb. dough on one table, and a baked loaf of bread on another table (that one forgot to take off Challah from), one should be mafrish from the dough thereby fulfilling the obligation of hafrashas Challah for both the dough and the baked loaf.
31. See Shach Y.D. 325:6.
32. See Shaalos U’teshuvos Eretz Tzvi 1:49 and Minchas Yitzchok 10:102. Also, note that this halacha applies to individuals and not to bakeries who produce for sale. Jewish owned bakeries are obligated in hafrashas Challah each time a batch is kneaded.
33. Y.D. 329:10
34. To alleviate this problem, a small amount of water suffices. Alternatively, one can use wine, grape juice, olive oil, honey, or milk. (Note: Milk may be used in cake and cookies, but not bread).
35. Besides water the other liquids include blood and the liquids listed in the previous footnote. There are a total of seven liquids that are machshir l’kabel tumah. The acronym is ‘Ya”d shacha”t doh”m’ – Yayin, dvash, shemen, chalav, tal, dohm, mayim.
36. As opposed to whole wheat flour – see discussion at the end of the paragraph.
37. Bechoros 27a
2. ‘ברכות, דף מ”ח, עמוד ב
3. ‘דברים, פרק ח’, פסוק ב
4. ‘או”ח, סימן קפ”א, סעיף א