Separating Challah

WHAT is the Mitzvah of separating Challah?

The Mitzva of Challah is mentioned in Bamidbar, Perek 15, Posukim 17-21. The Mitzva is to tithe a portion of the dough that you knead and give it to a Kohain. The Kohain would eat the Challah when he is free from any contaminates, (such as one who came in contact with a deceased person). Today, since the Kohanim are not clean from such contaminates the Challah is not given to the Kohain. The dough, however, is forbidden to be eaten until the Challah is separated. Therefore, Challah is separated and burned, to assure that it will not be eaten.

WHICH ingredients require the separation of Challah?

Any dough or batter containing 2 _ pounds or more of flour from wheat, spelt, rye, oats or barley. It does not matter if the dough is sweet or contains additional ingredients. See the chart below regarding which dough require separation with a Brocha.

WHO may separate the challah?

The owner or a Shomer Shabbos Jew appointed by the owner must separate the challah.

HOW much dough is separated?

It is customary to separate an amount of dough equivalent to at least one fluid ounce (half the volume of a large egg).

WHEN is the Brocha recited?

While holding the dough just prior to the actual separation of the challah from the dough.

WHAT is the Brocha?

“Boruch atu… asher keedishunoo… lihofrish challah” (“Blessed are You … Who sanctified us … to separate challah”). Some people have the custom of ending the Brocha with the words, “min haisa” (“from the dough”). After the separation it is a good practice to say “harei zeh challah” (“This is challah”).

WHERE do we put the separated dough/ challah?

The separated challah must be burned (until it is charred on the outside). It may be put in the same oven used to bake the prepared dough; however, the separated Challah may not touch any of the prepared dough baking in the oven. After the separated challah is burned, it may be wrapped in a waterproof wrap (e.g. plastic wrap) and may be discarded in any manner.

COMBINING TWO OR MORE BATCHES

Before and during baking: In the event that a housewife is making a large recipe but her mixer can only knead small amounts of dough* at one time, then challah should be taken if the small kneaded dough balls are combined. The separate doughs are considered combined in any of the following manners:

  1. They are placed in one container or oven together.
  2. The separate pieces touch each other.
  3. All the doughs are near each other and covered with one cover.

After Baking: If the small doughs_ or cakes (of the same variety) are baked separately and the finished products are then placed together in an enclosed unit (e.g. rolls are stored in a bin or basket after baking or a finished product is stored unwrapped in a refrigerator, freezer or even the same room), challah must be separated. However, a Brocha is not recited if the finished baked goods do not touch each other when stored.

* When the small doughs are of different varieties of flour (e.g. a doughs of wheat flour and a doughs of oat flour), a Rabbinical authority should be consulted.

A dough containing water and 5 pounds or more of flour Challah should be separated with a Brocha
A dough containing water and 2 _ pounds or more but less than 5 pounds of flourChallah should be separated without a Brocha
A dough that does not contain any waterIt is best to add a little bit of water; if no water can be added, challah should be separated without a Brocha. In this case the separated Challah should not be burned.
A dough that will be cooked, not baked (e.g. noodles), with or without water and 2 _ pounds or more (even if more than 5 pounds) of flourChallah should be separated without a Brocha. If the product does not contain any water and is not cooked in water the separated Challah should not be burned.
A liquid batter (e.g. cake batter) containing 2 1/2 pounds or more and even more than 5 pounds of flourChallah should be separated AFTER THE CAKE IS FINISHED BEING BAKED without a Brocha. If the product does not contain any water the separated Challah should not be burned.