Friday, June 19, 2009

Midrash on Parashat Shelach

Challah - The Law of Separating a Portion from the Dough

While in the wilderness, Benei Yisrael did not set aside a portion from their dough. They became obligated in this mitzvah only after entering Eretz Yisrael.

From then on, whenever someone made an omer of dough (see note below) from one of the five kinds of grain (wheat, barley, oats, spelt, or rye), he was required to separate a part of the dough, termed challah. The challah was holy and was given to the Kohen.

The mitzvah of challah actually applies only in Eretz Yisrael at a time when the majority of the Jewish people is there. However, our Sages ordained that challah be separated even outside of Eretz Yisrael, and even in our time, so that these laws should not be forgotten.

Today, our challah has to be burned. Although we fulfill our obligation today even by separating a very tiny amount of dough, the minhag (custom) is to separate a kezayit of dough and burn it.

Someone who has prepared the appropriate quantity of dough, separates the challah and recites the blessing:

Baruch atah Hashem Elokeinu Melech ha-olam asher kid'shanu bemitzvotav vetzivanu lehafrish challah.
Blessed are You, Hashem, our G-d, King of the universe, Who commanded us to separate challah from the dough.

If one forgot to take challah from the raw dough, he must still take it from the bread.

Although anyone in the household may separate challah, this mitzvah was specifically commanded to the wife. She thereby amends the sin of the first woman, Chavah.

Our Sages term Adam,
"the pure challah of the world." This means that he was created by Hashem completely pure, without evil desires. Chavah caused Adam to lose his former purity. After he sinned, he and his descendants were drawn towards physical desires (even if the fulfillment of these desires would harm them).

The mitzvah of separating challah has the potential to bring back the purity of spirit that was lost through Adam's sin. Hence, by fulfilling this mitzvah a woman rectifies Chavah's sin.

One should be careful to fulfill the mitzvah of separating challah. Famine is brought upon the world as a result of neglecting it, while its observance brings material blessing to the household.

For more information concerning the mitzvah of Challah follow the below link:

All About Challah


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