The Mitzvah of Hafroshas Challah for Women
- The mitzvah of hafroshas challah was mainly given to women. Therefore, women or girls who bake should review these halachos in order to prevent any potential transgressions, G-d forbid.
- If the woman of the house is unavailable, her husband or any Bar/Bas Mitzvah member of the family can do hafroshas challah.
- It is customary for women to knead enough dough before Shabbos or Yom Tov to require hafroshas challah (רמ”א או”ח רמ”ב). Two reasons are given: 1) To honor the Shabbos/Yom Tov; 2) Chavah caused Adam – who was considered “the challah portion of the world” – to sin. To rectify this, women fulfill the mitzvah of challah (מ”ב שם סק”ו).
- According to the first reason, one can also bake on Thursday, and one can bake less than the minimum amount requiring hafroshas challah. According to the second reason, one should specifically bake on Erev Shabbos [when Adam sinned] a quantity requiring hafroshas challah.
Types of Grain Requiring Hafroshas Challah
- Dough made from the five grains [wheat, barley, spelt, oats, and rye] – irrespective of what it will be used for – requires hafroshas challah (שו”ע יו”ד סי’ שכ”ד ס”א).
- Dough made from the prescribed volume of flour of a combination of the five grains also requires hafroshas challah (שו”ע שם ס”ב).
- If a woman made two batches of dough, each from a different type of flour, and neither contains the minimum volume, if she does not want the two to be mixed, sticking them together does not obligate hafroshas challah (שו”ע סי’ שכ”ו ס”א). If she does not mind the two getting mixed, see Shulchan Aruch (סי’ שכ”ד ס”ב) for the specifics of which flours can make up a shiur together.
Minimum Volume for Hafroshas Challah
- The dough must contain 43.2 beitzah of flour to require hafroshas challah (שו”ע סי’ שכ”ד ס”א). The poskim differ as to the modern-day measurements. As a result, there is an amount from which challah should be removed as a chumra without a brachah, and an amount from which challah is removed with a brachah.
- The custom of Yerushalayim, following Rav Chaim Naeh, is to set aside challah without a brachah from dough containing 1.25 kg. of flour, and with a brachah from 1.67 kg (מו”ר הגרי”י בלויא בלקט העומר פ”ה ס”ב).
- The Chazon Ish held that the dough must contain 1.2 kg. of flour [approximately 10 U.S. cups] to require hafroshas challah without a brachah, and 2.25 kg. [approximately 19 U.S. cups] with a brachah.
- Many follow the Chazon Ish in accordance with the principle not to make a brachah in a case of uncertainty.
- If one separated challah from less than 1.2 kg. of flour, it is not considered challah (שם ס”ג).
- Occasionally, a dough will have less than the minimum amount of flour, but while kneading, a woman adds some flour. She should take care not to add enough flour to require hafroshas challah. If she is uncertain, she should separate challah without a brachah.
Whole Wheat Flour
- Whole wheat flour is made by removing the bran and germ from the wheat kernel, and then recombining them. The bran and germ are not factored in to the volume for hafroshas challah (שו”ע סי’ שכ”ד ס”ג). Accordingly, one must add 15% to the ordinary amount to be able to make the brachah. This comes out to 1.92 kg. according to Rav Chaim Naeh and 2.59 kg. [approximately 21.5 U.S. cups] according to the Chazon Ish (מדריך הכשרות עדה”ח תשע”ו עמ’ 109).
- As of this publication, ‘Rubinfeld’ brand whole wheat flour [Eidah Chareidis] does not need the extra 15%.
Doughs Which Do Not Join
- Regular and whole wheat. If a woman kneads two doughs from wheat flour, each less than the minimum amount, and she does not want them to get mixed together [e.g., one is regular flour and the other is whole wheat], they do not join to meet the required amount (שו”ע שכ”ו ס”א). Accordingly, if each one is less than 1.2 kg., challah is not set aside; if each is less than 2.25 kg., challah is set aside from the respective doughs without a brachah.
- Kokosh cake and Challos. The same is true if she is making kokosh cakes along with challos. If she does not want the two doughs to be mixed, even if their recipes are similar (שו”ת אבני צדק מהדורת תשנ”ג בהוספות סי’ ו’), they do not join to meet the minimum amount (לקט העומר פ”ו ס”ט ובהערה).
- Chocolate and cinnamon babka. If the two doughs are identical, just she is planning to fill one with chocolate and the other with cinnamon, they join to meet the requisite volume (שם ובשו”ת שבט הקהתי ח”ד סי’ ער”ה).
Doughs Which Join
- “Neshichah”. Two identical separate doughs can join through what is called neshichah – connecting the two to the point that, when pulled apart, each piece will remove some of the other piece (שו”ע סי’ שכ”ה ס”א ובט”ז שם סק”א). Merely touching one to the other is not enough.
- Most poskim hold that neshichah only works on dough, in which case hafroshas challah is done with a brachah. If the neshichah was done while baking, some hold it still works. Therefore, the hafroshah should be done without a brachah (חלה כהלכתה סי’ ח’ אות ה’). If neshichah was done post-baking, most poskim hold hafroshah is not necessary.
- One basket. Two doughs can also be combined if they are placed into the same basket, or any other vessel with an interior (שו”ע שכ”ה ס”א), provided that they do not protrude out of the vessel (רמ”א). Ideally, they should be touching (ש”ך בנקה”כ). However, if they were placed on one tray, shelf, table, etc., they do not join.
- This method works while they are dough, or after they are baked (פתח”ז כלל ו’ ס”א) – even long after they are baked (או”ז ח”א סי’ רכ”ו, מנ”ח מצוה שפ”ה) – and the brachah is made (שו”ת רב פעלים ח”ד סי’ ל”ו).
- With a cloth. Covering the loaves with a cloth is like putting them in one vessel. The same cloth should be beneath the loaves and also covering them on top (ש”ך סק”ה, פמ”ג סי’ תנ”ז מ”ז סק”א). Some hold they need not be covered by the same cloth, and they can even be covered with a vessel (ביאה”ל סי’ תנ”ז ס”א ד”ה והסל).
Dough Which Will Be Divided
- Several small doughs. If a woman made the minimum amount of dough, even if she plans on splitting it up, e.g., she is making several smaller challos, she still separates challah with a brachah according to most poskim (פתח”ת יו”ד סי’ שכ”ו סק”ב, שו”ת שבט הלוי ח”ד סי’ קמ”ה הערות שכ”ו ס”ב).
- For multiple people. However, if she divides the dough planning on sending challos to others, and she wants specific challos to go to specific people, or if she wants to send the doughs to different households where they will be baked, challah is not set aside, as no one person is receiving the minimum amount of dough (שו”ע סי’ שכ”ו ס”ב).
- Gan activity. Often, a morah bakes challos with her students, with each child assigned a specific piece of dough. Even if the morah bakes all the dough in her house, challah is not set aside unless she leaves a portion large enough to independently require challah for herself.
- Distributing after baking. If she is planning on apportioning baked bread or cake rather than dough, the obligation of challah remains in force (ט”ז שם סק”ב וש”ך סק”ה).
- Sending challos to neighbors. If a woman bakes several challos and subsequently sends them to various neighbors or to her adult children, she must take off challah since she apportioned challos rather than dough. Some say not to make a brachah (שו”ת ארץ צבי סי’ מ”ט, שו”ת מנח”י ח”י סי’ ק”ב) unless she keeps a minimum amount [even by Rav Chaim Naeh’s measurement] for herself; others say she may make a brachah (מו”ר בעל שבט הקהתי).
- Saving for next week. If she makes the minimum amount of dough, but is only baking some now and is freezing the rest to be made later, the poskim debate what to do (לחם חמודות הל’ חלה אות כ’). Some say she should separate challah without a brachah (מו”ר בלקט העומר פ”ז ס”ג סוף הערה ט’); others hold she may make a brachah (קובץ מבית לוי ח”ה עמ’ ל”ו עפ”י שבט הלוי הנ”ל).
How Much to Separate
- Nowadays, we don’t specifically take off 1/48; any amount suffices. It is customary to take off a kezayis (רמ”א סי’ שכ”ב ס”ה) – half a beitzah (שערי תורת הבית סי’ י’ פ”א אות י”ב) – even from a large quantity of dough.
When to Separate
- Challah should not be separated while still flour. If one did so, it is not called challah (שו”ע סי’ שכ”ז ס”א).
- Ideally, challah should be taken off in the dough stage (ש”ך), immediately after kneading, so as not to forget. If one did not take off challah before baking the dough, one may take it off afterwards (שו”ע שכ”ז ס”ה).
- Marble cake, sponge cake, or the like, which are liquid before baking, can only have challah removed after baking, assuming they contain the minimum amount of flour (תורת הארץ). Often, the cake is mostly oil, eggs, sugar, and other ingredients, and the flour is the minority, in which case it is exempt from challah (שו”ת מנח”י ח”ח סי’ ק”ט).
Eating Before Challah is Taken Off
- Outside Eretz Yisroel. Since dough kneaded outside Eretz Yisroel – even with flour from Eretz Yisroel – only carries a derabonon obligation, one may eat the bread prior to hafroshas challah, provided that a piece of dough is left over. Part of the leftover piece is then removed as the challah portion (שו”ע שכ”ג וברמ”א).
- In Eretz Yisroel. Dough kneaded in Eretz Yisroel – even with flour from outside Eretz Yisroel – carried a de’oraisa obligation when the Beis Hamikdash stood. Therefore, one may not eat the bread before hafroshas challah. Also, all of the dough must be in one place during the hafroshah (שו”ע שם).
The Hafroshah Process and Brachah
- Separating the piece. Some pull off a piece, make the brachah holding the piece, and then state, “harei zu challah” (רמב”ן סוף הל’ חלה).
- Others first make the brachah and then pull off a piece. In that case, it is clear that the piece is challah, and it is unnecessary to say “harei zu challah” (בן איש חי ש”ב פ’ שמיני). Even in this case, some say it.
- One should have in mind that only the dough which readily comes off her hand will be challah and not any dough that sticks to her hand. This avoids possibly getting the challah portion mixed with the rest of the dough.
- When separating challah from dough containing between 1.2 and 2.25 kg. of flour, one should have in mind to cover flour added while shaping the dough, as a bit of extra flour can cause a full obligation.
- Nusach of the Brocho. Sefardim say “…vetzivanu lehafrish terumah” (שו”ע שכ”ח ס”א), while Ashkenazim say “…lehafrish challah.” The main Ashkenazi custom is to say “lehafrish challah min ha’isa” (ט”ז). If the challah is taken off after baking, one should say “lehafrish challah” (לקט העומר פ”י הערה י”ט).
- Even if one merely had in mind to designate a piece as challah without saying “harei zu challah” or making the brachah, the piece becomes challah (תורת הארץ אות ל”ג).
- It is a good idea to place the challah portion in a plastic bag immediately after separating it. This makes it clear that the piece is challah and prevents it from getting mixed up with the rest of the dough, an otherwise common occurrence.
Burning the Challah Portion
- Ideally, the challah portion should be burned in a fire by itself (רמ”א שכ”ב ס”ה), as one may not benefit from it.
- The poskim write that one should burn the challah in an oven before baking the bread (רמ”א שם, ש”ך סק”ח). In those days, there was fire in the oven, so after the challah was burned, libun (application of extreme heat) was automatically performed, and the oven could be used. Nowadays, our ovens do not have fire inside, so if one would burn the challah in an oven, the oven would need to be kashered.
- Some women wrap the challah in aluminum foil before placing it in the oven. This practice is best avoided since the dough often rises and pushes through the foil, rendering the oven not kosher. If this happened, one should consult a Rav.
- Some burn the challah over a gas flame. This is also problematic, since the challah touches the grate, necessitating libun.
- If burning it is not feasible, the next best option is to seal it in a plastic bag in a respectful manner and place it in the garbage (שו”ת מנחת יצחק ח”ד סי”ג).
- Some freeze the challah portion in a plastic bag and burn several weeks’ worth together. One should make sure to mark the bag as hafroshas challah (שו”ת שבט הקהתי ח”ד סי’ רע”ז), in order for it not to be mistaken with gefilte fish or kneidlach (both real-life examples).
Forgot to Take Off Challah
- If one forgot to separate challah from the dough, she may do so after it is baked.
- If she only remembered after some of the dough was baked, she should ideally bake the rest before separating challah (הג’ מיימוני סוף זרעים, חלת לחם בשם המרדכי). Nevertheless, if she set challah aside from the dough, it’s fine (לקט העומר פ”ו סי”א).
- If one began eating before remembering that challah was not removed, outside Eretz Yisroel, he may continue eating and leave a piece over from which to separate challah. In Eretz Yisroel, he should immediately take a piece off of what is left.
- On Shabbos and Yom Tov, challah is not taken off (שו”ע או”ח של”ט ס”ד) unless the dough was made on Yom Tov (שו”ע או”ח תקכ”ד ס”א).
- If one remembered on Shabbos/Yom Tov that challah was not taken off, outside Eretz Yisroel, he should leave over some bread and separate challah from that after Shabbos/Yom Tov. In Eretz Yisroel, if there is no other choice, he may transfer ownership of the bread to a 12-year-old boy or 11-year-old girl who will separate challah with a brachah (לקט העומר פי”א ס”ט בשם מהרי”ל דיסקין ובספר חנוך לנער פל”ז).
Challah Portion Got Mixed Up
- If the challah got mixed up with the dough from which it was separated and the volume of the dough is not 101 times that of the challah, one can do hataras nedarim in front of three men. The dough then reverts to tevel and he should take off another piece of challah (רמ”א שכ”ג ס”א) with a brachah (שו”ת חת”ס יו”ד סי’ ש”כ).
- The hatarah should ideally be done as it is done for a vow. Therefore, he should state, “I regret having made this piece challah. Had I known I was going to regret it, I would not have done it” (חכמת אדם דיני חלה). The three then declare, “muttar lach” three times.
- Since generally the wife does the hafroshah, while the dough belongs to the husband, the husband should do hataras nedarim on behalf of himself and his wife.
If some of the dough was already eaten, in Eretz Yisroel, hataras nedarim can no longer be done, because that would retroactively make what was eaten tevel (ש”ך סק”ו). Outside Eretz Yisroel, where it is permissible to eat and then set aside challah, one can do hataras nedarim as long as there is some dough or bread left.