The Mitzvah of Challah (continued)
Parsha Halacha – Parshat Korach (Chukat in Israel)
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Monday Night Parsha Shiur on the Topic of Separating Challah
This week’s Zoom Parsha class on Monday night at 9 pm is sponsored by Joey Senker in memory of Sholem Benchimol and Aaron Beneviste who both tragically lost their lives too soon. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to be invited.
List of Likutei Torah Bytes Sponsorship for Next Week
Sunday is sponsored by Rabbi and Mrs. Daniel Kahane.
Monday is sponsored by Mr. and Mrs’ Sabi Varon Le’iluy Nishmat Eleizer ben Shabtai.
Tuesdays are sponsored by Rafael Zaidenberg in Memory of his Mother, Rachel bat Chana. Wednesday is sponsored by Rabbi and Mrs. Benchimol in memory of Sholom Dovber ben Iosef. May his neshamah have an aliyah.
Thursday is sponsored by Ilana Korchek in memory of her parents Shlomo ben Pinkus and Badonah bas Reuven, A”H.
Friday is sponsored by Chana Leah bas Rochel Baila & Menachem Mendel ben Yehudis & family for blessings of health, wealth, wisdom, nachas, good shidduchim and Moshiach NOW!
The Torah portion of Korach includes many of the gifts that the Jewish people are supposed to give Kohanim. The verse that introduces this section states (Numbers 18:8): וַיְדַבֵּר ה׳ אֶל אַהֲרֹן וַאֲנִי הִנֵּה נָתַתִּי לְךָ אֶת מִשְׁמֶרֶת תְּרוּמֹתָי “The L-rd told Aaron, ‘Behold, I have given you the charge of My gift offerings.’” Rashi explains that the term הִנֵּה (behold) is an expression of joy (see Exodus 4:14).
Giving and Receiving with Joy
The Panim Yafot in the name of the Midrash (Yalkut Shimoni) says that וַאֲנִי (and I) is an expression of goodwill, while הִנֵּה (behold) expresses joy. He explains that when a person gives willingly and joyfully, he imbues a bracha (blessing) into the article which he gives. A similar blessing is found when the recipient accepts the gift happily. The Talmud (Kiddushin 53a)teaches that in earlier generations the kohanim would receive a small portion of the lechem hapanim (showbread) and be satisfied with it. The reason for this is that they received this bread happily. In the later generations however, when the kohanim were not as righteous and thus not as happy with the small portions they received, they did not feel satisfied when they ate those portions.
Regarding giving tzedakah, the Torah says (Deut. 15:10) נָתוֹן תִּתֵּן לוֹ וְלֹא יֵרַע לְבָבְךָ בְּתִתְּךָ לוֹ כִּי בִּגְלַל הַדָּבָר הַזֶּה יְבָרֶכְךָ ה אֱלֹקֶיךָ בְּכָל מַעֲשֶׂךָ וּבְכֹל מִשְׁלַח יָדֶךָ “Give to him readily, and have no regrets when you give to him, for in return the L-rd your G-d will bless you in all your efforts and in all your undertakings.” The double expression of נָתוֹן תִּתֵּן indicates that one should give to the poor many times, even up to 100 times (see Rashi on the verse). But this is only necessary if one gave begrudgingly. If one gives happily, however, that gift is blessed and will provide the recipient with all his needs. The verse therefore continues and says, “Have no regrets when you give to him,” meaning that if you give in that manner, it will not be necessary to give 100 times.
One who gives joyously will be blessed by G-d, as the verse continues: “For in return, the L-rd your G-d will bless you in all your efforts and in all your undertakings”. Since one who gives happily bestows a blessing on even the smallest amount, G-d pays him back with a blessing in “all his undertakings,” even the most insignificant ones.
Happy Giving in 1994
On a personal note, I experienced “happy giving” when I was a Shaliach in Yeshivah Gedolah of Melbourne, Australia, in 1994. My friend Daniel Green and I were planning to spend Pesach in Byron Bay, New South Wales, and make the seders there for the local (and eclectic) Jewish community. Before embarking on the project, I approached several members of the Chabad community in Melbourne to raise money for this project. The most memorable contribution I received was a generous donation from Reb Binyomin Althaus (may he be well). Before he gave it to me, he said, “Thank you so much for asking me for this. I wish I could go to Byron Bay myself and do a Seder for the Jews there. But due to my circumstances I cannot. So thank you for giving me the opportunity to participate in this mitzvah.”
For a young yeshivah bochur who had never raised any significant funds in my life, this was a very welcome comment as it gave me a good feeling about the fundraising rather than making me feel like a beggar.
The 25th Gift
The Kli Yakar (quoted in Pardes Yosef) says that although we generally speak about 24 gifts of the Kohanim there is in fact a 25th. This is the gift of the blessing of the Kohanim. It is considered a gift as when the Kohanim bless the people, they in turn receive a blessing from G-d. This is alluded to in the verse preceding the Birkat Kohanim which says (Numbers 6:23) כֹּה תְבָרֲכוּ- so you should bless. Since the gematriyah (numerical value) of כֹּה is 25, the verse can be interpreted to mean that כֹּה – the 25th gift is: תְבָרֲכוּ – the fact that you have the ability to bless the people.
The verse quoted in the beginning of this article which teaches that the gifts of the Kohanim must be given with joy, also refers to the blessing of the Kohanim which must be done in a state of joy.
More Challah Laws
Last week we discussed some of the laws of separating Challah. We will continue the discussion now although we will still only scratch the surface, for there are many more details to this mitzvah which cannot be covered in two articles.
Less than the Shiur
As we mentioned last week, one need not separate Challah from dough that is less than the volume of 43.2 eggs (this is the correct number, not 43.33 as I wrote last week). Thus one who uses less than 2 lb. 11 ozs of flour need not separate Challah at all.
However, one should not specifically make a dough of less than that volume in order to avoid the mitzvah to separate Challah (Y.D. 324:14).
Friday Challah Bake
It is customary for women to make dough which requires the separation of Challah on Fridays in order to fulfill this mitzvah (Shach on ibid). This serves as an atonement for the sin of Chava,the first woman, who by persuading Adam to eat from the Tree of Knowledge, ruined the “Challah” of the world. The challah that is separated is the best of the dough. Likewise Adam – and mankind in general – was challah, the holiest part of the world. Since this sin happened on the first Friday, it is appropriate to atone for the sin on Friday (Magen Avraham 242:4 and Machatzit HaShekel, based on Jerusalem Talmud, Shabbat 2:6).
As mentioned last week, one need only separate challah from dough made from the five grains, i.e., wheat, barley, oats, spelt and rye.
- Combinations in One Dough
If one made a dough with any mixture of these grains, one must separate challah if it has the required amount of flour.
- Combinations in Separate Doughs
If one made two or more separate doughs, each of a different grain, there are some grains that may combine to form the minimum requirement while others may not.
The reason for the difference is that when the grains are combined in one dough, they are considered to be one, but when they are made into separate doughs, they can only be considered one if the species resemble each other (Taz 3 on Y.D. 324:2).
As such, here are the grains that, when combined, become obligated in the mitzvah of challah (Y.D. ibid).
- Wheat combines only with spelt.
- Spelt combines with all the other grains.
- Barley combines with all of the grains besides wheat.
- Rye combines with barley and spelt but not with wheat or oats.
- Oats combine only with barley and spelt.
Combining Two Doughs
In order for two separate batches of dough to be combined for the purpose of separating challah with a bracha, they must be placed together in a container before baking. If one forgot to separate Challah from the dough before baking, one may combine the baked loaves in a container and separate the Challah after baking. In some cases one may also cover the loaves with a cloth to combine them. We will, G-d willing, discuss this further another time.
It is forbidden to eat the Challah that one separates. As such, if the piece of Challah gets mistakenly mixed back into the dough, it is forbidden to eat the dough unless the dough contains 100 times the volume of the piece of Challah. If this happens, one must ask a bait din to reverse the Challah designation that was made. The bait din can do this just as they have the power to annul one’s oaths. After this, one must separate Challah again. (The Taz questions this, see Y.D. 323:1).
Forgot to Separate
One who forgot to separate Challah may separate it from the baked loaves of bread. In the diaspora, one may do so even after eating some of the loaves. In fact, one may eat all of the loaves as long as one leaves over a piece slightly larger than an olive. He may then remove an olive-size piece from that piece and declare it “Challah.” In the land of Israel, where these laws are more stringent, one may not eat from the loaves prior to the separation of challah. (Y.D. ibid).
This is helpful on Shabbat when it is forbidden to separate Challah as this is like “fixing” the bread. As such, if one forgot to separate the Challah before Shabbat, one who is not in Israel, may eat the loaves, and leave over a piece. After Shabbat an olive-sized piece should be removed from that piece, as explained above.
Flour from Different Years
Flour from different years cannot be combined to reach the volume of dough that requires separating Challah (Y.D. 324:8). Thus one who has bags of flour from grain grown in different Jewish calendar years should not combine them to make a dough as this will raise a question as to how Challah should be separated. The reason for this law is that one may not tithe grains from one year’s produce for the produce of a different year. Since Challah resembles the mitzvah of tithing in some respects, the rabbis instituted that the same rule apply to the grains used for Challah (Taz on ibid).
If one made a dough which combined rice flour with wheat flour, the law is as follows: If the bread will taste like wheat bread, one must separate Challah from it. In this case, the rice flour combines with the wheat flour to reach the required amount from which Challah must be separated (Y.D. 324:9). Some say that the same applies to a combination of rice and any of the other grains which are obligated in Challah (barley, oats, spelt and rye). There are also those who rule that the rice flour would not count towards the amount required for Challah when combined with the other grains (see Shach 17 on ibid). In practice, if one makes such a dough they should separate the Challah without a bracha.
If the combination does not taste like wheat bread (or bread of the other grains) one need not separate Challah.
If one mixed other flours (e.g. corn, quinoa or any flour besides rice) with the flours of the five grains, one would only have to separate Challah if there was the required amount of the flour of the five grains and the bread tasted like those grains. Some say that the law of other flours is the same as that of rice flour. (These are the opinions of the Taz and Shach respectively as explained in Challah KeHalcha by Rabbi Shimon Yoel Brach, pages 51 and 52.)
May We Merit to Give Tzedaka with Joy!
Wishing you a Shabbat Shalom UMevorach!