A discussion of Halachic topics related to the Parsha of the
week. For final rulings, consult your Rav.
SELECTED HALACHOS RELATING TO PARSHAS VAYEIRA
By Rabbi Doniel Neustadt
A discussion of Halachic topics related to the Parsha of the
week. For final rulings, consult your Rav.
THE MITZVAH OF SEPARATING CHALLAH
It is a time honored custom for women to bake challos for Shabbos and Yom
Tov, both because it enhances kavod Shabbos and kavod Yom Tov(1) and because
it is an opportunity for them to set aright Chavah's sin on the first erev
Shabbos of Creation(2). For this and other reasons(3), it is halachically
preferable that a woman be the one who separates the challah rather than a
Although Shulchan Aruch cites challah-baking as a worthy custom "that
should not be abandoned(4)", many women find it difficult to bake Shabbos
challos on a steady basis. But even some women who do not adhere to the
custom regularly make a point of baking challah for the Shabbos after
Pesach, for it is a tradition that baking challos on that Shabbos is a
segulah for parnasah. Many follow the additional custom of baking challah in
the form of a key or pressing a key into the dough (schlisel challah) to
symbolize "the key of parnasah"(5).
CHALLAH SEPARATION: QUANTITY of BATTER:
A batter which contains less than 10 cups of flour (approx. two and a half
to three pounds) is completely exempt from challah separation.
A batter which contains more than 10 cups of flour(6) requires separation of
challah, but no blessing is recited.
A batter which contains more than 16 cups of flour (over 4 pounds) requires
separation of challah with a blessing(7).
It is possible that dough which was originally baked with less than the
prescribed amount of flour would ultimately require separation of challah:
If several small doughs are combined, they are halachically considered as
one dough. In the following three cases the doughs may be considered as one
If the doughs are [or were previously] pressed together tightly enough so
that when they are separated they will stick to one another, they are
considered as one dough and challah must be separated from one of them.
Even if the doughs are not [or were not] pressed together but are placed in
one deep utensil(9) and are touching each other(10), they require hafroshas
challah and challah must be separated from one of them. Note that even if
the doughs have been baked into bread or cakes and then placed together in
one utensil, they will require hafroshas challah at that point. [An oven, a
refrigerator or a freezer is not considered a utensil which combines small
doughs or baked goods into one big unit, particularly if the items are
Even if the doughs are not [or were not] pressed together and are not [or
were not] placed in one utensil, but are lying on a counter or on a table
and are touching each other and are completely wrapped up in a cloth, they
are considered as one dough and challah must be separated from one of
them(12). Note that even if the doughs have been baked into bread or cakes
and then wrapped together, they will require hafroshas challah at that
The following exception to the above rule applies:
If the two batters have different sets of ingredients and thus taste
different from each other, or even if they taste the same but were made by
two different people, or even if they were made by one person but she does
not want to mix them or combine them, or even if she does not care whether
they are mixed but the flours are from grain grown in two separate years -
then they are not considered as one dough, even if they are pressed together
or touching each other in the same utensil.
This information is useful for women who are baking several doughs, each of
which contains less than the minimum amount of flour. Women who would like
to incur the obligation and fulfill the mitzvah of challah have one of the
three following options. They are all l'chatchilah:
They could firmly press the doughs together;
They could place the doughs, while touching each other, in one deep utensil;
They could leave the doughs on the counter or table and completely enwrap
them in a towel or sheet.
After one of these options is followed, challah may be separated as
CHALLAH SEPARATION: DOUGH TYPE
Challah is separated from a dough made out of flour derived from the five
species of grain - wheat, barley, spelt, rye and oats. Rice, corn and soy
flour are exempt.
When flour is mixed with any amount of water, one is obligated to separate
challah with a blessing. Flour mixed with fruit juice or with eggs only,
requires hafroshas challah without a blessing(13). When flour is mixed with
olive(14) oil, wine, milk or bee's honey there is a difference of opinion.
Most require separating challah with a blessing(15) while others recommend
separating challah without a blessing(16).
Challah is separated not only when baking bread but when baking other items
as well. The following rules apply:
Thick dough from which cake or cookies will be baked requires challah
separation if a minimum of 10 cups of flour are used. If a minimum of 16
cups of flour are used, the blessing is recited when separating the challah.
[Other ingredients do not count towards the minimum amount of flour.]
Thick dough which will be fried or cooked requires hafroshas challah without
A liquid batter which will be fried or cooked is exempt from challah. If it
will be baked, it requires hafroshas challah with a blessing(18).
THE PROCEDURE OF SEPARATION:
Those who usually recite l'shem yichud before performing a mitzvah should do
so before performing this mitzvah as well(19).
The woman should stand while the challah is being separated and the blessing
recited(20). If she did so while sitting, however, the challah separation is
The proper time to separate challah is before baking the dough while the
batter is raw. If, however, one forgot to separate challah before baking the
dough, she must do so after the dough has been baked(22).
A small piece of dough is removed from the mass. Preferably, the designated
piece should be at least a k'zayis(23) (approx. 1 oz.).
The designated piece of dough should be held with the right hand. A
left-handed person should hold it in her left hand(24).
Immediately before(25) the separation of the designated piece - with no
talking in between - the blessing should be recited.
Some follow the custom of adding two words to the end of the blessing: Min
ha-isah. One who does not have this tradition should not add these two
After the separation of the challah, it is proper to recite (in any
language): This piece is [separated for] challah(27).
DISPOSING OF THE CHALLAH:
The designated piece should be burned until it is no longer edible. The
ashes may then be discarded. Flushing the designated piece of challah down a
toilet or tossing it in a river is not the same as burning it and should be
avoided(28). Under extenuating circumstances, when the challah cannot be
burned, some poskim permit carefully wrapping the challah in a bag and
throwing it in the garbage(29). [In such a case, less than a k'zayis should
be separated.] It is prohibited to feed it to one's pet or to derive any
benefit from it(30).
The piece of challah that was separated is forbidden to be eaten. In
effect, it is a non-kosher food. Care should be taken that it does not touch
the rest of the baked goods, either in or out of the oven. [For this reason
it is not recommended to remove the designated piece of challah with a fork
or a knife. Since dough tends to stick, some crumbs may remain on the
utensil and possibly render it - or other dishes washed along with it -
non-kosher when washed with hot water later on.]
If the challah is burned inside the oven [in which other items are being
baked] it should be left tightly wrapped in silver foil so that steam from
the non-kosher challah does not penetrate the oven walls. B'dieved, however,
if it was not wrapped, the oven does not become non kosher and does not need
to undergo a koshering process(31). If, however, the challah comes into
physical contact with the other baked goods while they are in the oven, the
baked goods may become non-kosher(32). A rav must be consulted.
CHALLAH SEPARATION: SPECIAL SITUATIONS:
QUESTION: While sitting at the Shabbos table, a woman realizes that she
forgot to separate challah from her challah loaves. What should she do?
ANSWER: It is prohibited to separate challah on Shabbos or Yom Tov(33)
unless the dough was made on Yom Tov(34). Accordingly, there is nothing that
can be done(35) and the challah loaves may not be eaten(36). [If she
realizes her oversight during bein hashmashos, and neither she nor the shul
where her husband is davening has recited kabbolas Shabbos, she may still
separate challah [even if she has already lit Shabbos candles], as long as
the family has no other challah loaves for Shabbos(37).]
If this oversight occurred outside of Eretz Yisrael(38), however, the
challah loaves could be eaten so long as the lady intends to separate
challah after Shabbos from whatever will remain of the challah loaves she
had baked. She must follow this procedure(39):
She must make sure that a small piece [e.g., one slice] remains from the
loaves the she had baked;
Separate a designated piece from that remaining slice after Shabbos or Yom
Tov is over(40). That piece is then burned like any other separated challah.
No blessing is recited over this type of challah separation(41).
QUESTION: What can be done if the designated piece of challah, after being
separated - regardless of whether a blessing was recited or not - gets mixed
in with the rest of the dough?
ANSWER: If the designated piece of challah is mixed in with dough which is
101 times greater in volume than the designated piece, then the entire dough
may be baked and eaten(42).
If the dough is not 101 times bigger than the designated piece, the dough
may still be eaten - but only after the challah piece, which is forbidden to
eat, is "removed" from the dough. This is done by halachically annulling the
piece of challah so that the dough no longer contains the forbidden challah
piece. The woman [or her husband(43)] recites the following in the presence
of a bais din of any three adult males(44): "I regret that I designated that
piece of dough as challah, and had I known that I would regret it, I would
not have designated it for challah(45)." The bais din can then repeal her
designation as they do with any other vow(46). Another piece of dough is
then separated for challah.
The same procedure would apply if the woman realized after baking her
challah loves that she mistakenly baked the designated piece of challah with
them, or if somehow the designated piece got mixed up with any other food.
When the challah loaves or other food are needed, this procedure may be
followed on Shabbos or Yom Tov as well(47).
QUESTION: A woman prepares dough with the required amount of flour [16 cups]
in order to recite the blessing, then divides the dough in two - half she
bakes immediately while the other half is frozen to be baked at a later
time. Does she separate challah?
ANSWER: This issue is debated in the poskim(48). It is recommended,
therefore, to separate challah but not to recite the blessing(49).
1 Rama O.C. 242:1; 529:1.
2 Mishnah Berurah 242:6.
3 See Bartenura Shabbos 2:6.
4 Rama O.C. 242:1 and Beiur Halachah (s.v. vehu). In O.C. 529:1 Rama refers
to this custom as a "mitzvah."
5 See Ta'amei ha-Minhagim 596-597 for the origin of this custom.
6 Water and other ingredients are not included in the minimum amount.
7 Ruling of Harav Z.P. Frank (quoted in Siddur Korban Minchah, pg. 40) which
is followed by many women. Some poskim maintain that a blessing should not
be recited unless five pounds of flour are used; Harav Y.E. Henkin (Eidus
8 Based on Mishnah Berurah 457:7 and Beiur Halachah.
9 The utensil must be sufficiently deep so that no dough [or baked item]
will protrude from it.
10 Minchas Yitzchak 8:109 maintains that even if the doughs are in
individual pans or bags and the pans are touching each other [and they are
placed in one big deep utensil] the doughs are considered combined. Harav
S.Z. Auerbach (Shemiras Shabbos K'hilchasah 42, note 39) disagrees.
11 See Beiur ha-Gra Y.D. 325:3 (concerning an oven). See also Machzeh
Eliyahu 111 and Shemiras Shabbos K'hilchasah 42, note 39.
12 Beiur Halachah 457:1.
13 Taz Y.D. 329:9. In practice, however, a dough [of 10 cups of flour or
more] should not be prepared unless it contains either water, wine, olive
oil, milk or bee's honey.
16 Oral ruling heard from Harav M. Feinstein (quoted in Oholei Yeshurun, pg.
58) based on Bais Hillel Y.D. 329:9.
17 Shach Y.D. 329:4.
18 Y.D. 329:2.
19 Kaf ha-Chayim O.C. 457:12. The appropriate nusach is quoted there. Some
women have a custom to give charity before performing this mitzvah, as they
do before lighting candles; Ben Ish Chai (Lech Lecha, 6)
21 Mishnah Berurah 8:2. See Magen Avraham 8:1 and Shulchan Aruch Harav 8:3
who allow separating challah and reciting the blessing while sitting.
22 Mishnah Berurah 457:5.
23 Rama Y.D. 322:5.
24 Mishnah Berurah 206:18.
25 Rambam, Hilchos Bikkurim 5:11; Chochmas Adam (Sha'arei Tzedek 14:32);
Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 35:1; Mikdash Me'at 328:1. Some have a custom that
they seperate challah while reciting the blessing while others separate
challah after reciting the blessing; see Piskei Teshuvos 457, note 3. See
Mikraei Kodesh, Pesach vol. 2, pg. 73-74 for an explanation of this issue.
26 Kaf ha-Chayim 457:10. One who separates challah after the dough has been
baked, definitely should not recite those two words.
27 R' Akiva Eiger Y.D. 328:1; Chochmas Adam, ibid. Many women, however, do
not recite this statement; Ha'amek Shaeilah 73:3. When challah is being
separated without a blessing, this decleration is even more significant; see
Imrei Shalom 3:60.
30 Rama Y.D. 322:5. A kohen, however, may derive benefit from it while
burning it; Rama Y.D. 331:19
31 Since dough, generally, is not liquid and hardly emits steam. Even if it
will, it is negligible.
32 See Leket ha-Omer 14, note 3. When the hot, burned piece of challah is
removed from the oven, it should definitely not be removed with a utensil.
33 Mishnah Berurah 339:26. B'dieved, if she mistakenly separated challah on
Shabbos or Yom Tov, the food may be eaten. If, however, she was aware that
it is forbidden to do so and she did so anyway, the food is forbidden to be
eaten; Sha'ar ha-Tziyun 339:26.
34 If the dough was prepared on Yom Tov, challah is separated with a
blessing but the dough is not burned until after Yom Tov is over. Once the
piece is set aside, it may no longer be moved, since it is muktzeh; Mishnah
35 If this occurred on the first night of Pesach or Sukkos when it is a
Biblical obligation to eat a k'zayis of matzah or bread, a solution can be
found. A rav must be consulted.
36 A possible solution is to prepare on Yom Tov another batch of dough and
then separate challah from the new dough for both. See Rama O.C. 506:3 and
Mishnah Berurah for the details.
37 Mishnah Berurah 261:4 and 28. Outside of Eretz Yisrael, though, this
should not be done, since in the Diaspora it is permitted to separate
challah after Shabbos, as detailed in the next paragraph.
38 If the item was baked in Eretz Yisrael but is now outside of it, e.g.
matzos, a rav should be consulted; see Cheshev ha-Eeifod 2:43.
39 Rama O.C. 506:3.
40 Rama Y.D. 323:1. If she forgot to separate challah from more than one
dough, she must follow the same procedure with each dough.
44 While her husband may not be one of the three, her children, her father
and other relatives may; Y.D. 334:57.
45 This action does not render the original blessing made on this hafroshas
challah as a brachah l'vatalah; Chasam Sofer Y.D. 320 and 353.
46 Rama Y.D. 323:1. While some poksim (see Taz 323:2) do not agree with this
procedure, most poksim concur with the Rama's ruling; see Chochmas Adam
(Sha'arei Tzedek 14:6); Pischei Teshuvah 323:3; Aruch ha-Shulchan 323:14.
47 Sha'arei Teshuvah O.C. 341:1. Since, however, a new piece cannot be
separated on Shabbos or Yom Tov, this leniency would apply only outside of
Eretz Yisrael, as explained earlier, see Shevus Ya'akov 3:27.
48 See Y.D. 326:2, Beiur ha-Gra 7 and Pischei Teshuvah 2; Chazon Ish Y.D.