The Separation of “Challah”

 

I’ll bet you thought challah refers to the two braided loaves of bread reserved for Shabbat meals. It does. But challah is also the small chunk of dough we tear off and burn before baking any bread.

Originally, that dough was given to a kohen, a descendant of Aaron who served in the Temple. In Messianic times, we’ll reinstate this practice. Meanwhile, we need to burn that challah before we can eat the bread from which it was taken.

Taking challah tells us that whatever we are given is not for our use alone. If we have wisdom, money or good health, our first step is to put them towards a G‑dly purpose.

Jewish women traditionally prefer baking their own challah for Shabbat over buying from a baker. It’s a mitzvah, so why give it away? It’s also a very feminine kind of mitzvah, nurturing the bodies and souls of the family and guests.

What:

Challah is taken from wheat, rye, barley, oat or spelt batches that use at least 59 ounces of flour. If you use less than this but more than 43 ounces, takechallah, but don’t recite the blessing.

The liquid you mix with the flour should be mostly water. If not, add a drop of water and then take challah without reciting a blessing.

Cakes and cookies sometimes need challah taken, as well.

How:

After you knead the dough, before shaping it into loaves, place all your dough in a single pan or bowl and recite:

Blessed are You, L‑rd our G‑d, King of the universe, who has sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us to separate challah.

Separate a small piece (approx. one ounce) and say: “This is challah.”

Wrap the challah in foil and place it in the empty broiler or oven, or burn it by any other method.