Taking Challah

  1. It is a positive commandment to take Trumah from dough that is made from the five grains and to give it to a Cohen. This tithe is called Chalah.
  2. According to most Poskim, the Mitzvah of taking Chalah in our time is Rabbinic even in Eretz Yisrael since the majority of the Jewish People do not live there. The Rabbonim required Chalah to be taken outside of Eretz Yisrael so that the Mitzvah of Chalah would not be forgotten. They did not require Trumah to be taken outside of Eretz Yisrael because, while the mitzvah of taking Chalah pertains to anyone who prepared dough, the mitzvah of taking Trumah pertains only to people who own land.
  3. The mitzvah of Chalah pertains only to dough that is owned by a Jew. Therefore, the dough of a gentile is exempt from the mitzvah even if a Jew kneads it, and Chalah must be taken from the dough of a Jew even if a gentile kneads it.
  4. Chalah must be taken from dough that is owned in partnership by a Jew and a Gentile if the portion owned by the Jew is the minimum size from which the taking of Chalah is required. When Jews own dough in partnership, the mitzvah of Chalah applies even if neither owns the minimum quantity of dough from which the taking of Chalah is required, but only if they intend to separate their portions of the dough after baking it. If they intend to separate their portions of the dough before baking it, the, since neither owns a sufficient amount of dough to incur the obligation of taking Chalah, they are exempt from the mitzvah.
  5. Since it is unclear whether the mitzvah of Chalah pertains to flour that is kneaded in pure fruit juice, Chalah should be taken without reciting the blessing. If even the slightest amount of water is added, the blessing should be recited, and for that reason, it is good to add water. There are Poskim that hold that if any one of the other 7 liquids that allow foodstuffs to become impure is added to the flour, the blessing is recited only when it constitutes the greater part of the liquid which forms the dough.
  6. The obligation to take Chalah does not apply to dough that contains less then 1200 grams of flour. The blessing is not recited unless the dough contains at least 1670 grams according to Rav Naeh or 2250 grams according to Chazon Ish.
  7. If Chalah is taken from dough which contains less than 1200 grams of flour, the dough which has been designated as Chalah is not considered Chalah. If Chalah is taken from two batches of dough, neither of which contains enough flour to require Chalah to be taken, the dough designated as Chalah is not considered Chalah, and if the batches are combined, Chalah must be taken. There is no obligation to take Chalah from dough that contains less than 1300 grams of flour, even if it has risen and appears to contain a larger quantity of flour.
  8. It is forbidden to knead dough in small quantities for the purpose of avoiding the obligation of taking Chalah. It is permissible to prepare a small quantity of dough when a small quantity is all that is needed. (The dough for matzah is prepared in quantities too small to require Chalah to avoid the possibility of the dough becoming chametz.)
  9. Women customarily made a point of baking on Erev Shabbes in sufficient quantities to incur the obligation of taking Chalah. If a large quantity of Chalah is not required, it is better to bake once in several weeks (placing the chalahs in a freezer to keep them fresh) than to bake every week and forgo the mitzvah of taking Chalah.

MDhalachalMaase is written by HaRav HaGaon Rí Shammai Gross
Translated by Rabbi Tzvi Abraham