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About Challah

About Challah


A select number of Torah commandments are categorized as t’luyos ba’aretz, directly connected with the physical Land of Israel. Challah, the separation of a portion of dough, is among these commandments. The Torah states: “You shall offer up a loaf (challah) from the first of your dough as a gift” (Numbers 15:20). This loaf is among the twenty-four gifts that G‑d awarded to the kohanim, the priests.

Other commandments that are t’luyos ba’aretz include bikkurim, terumah, and ma’aser. Bikkurim, the First Fruits, were brought to Jerusalem by the landowner as an offering in the Temple and given to the kohanim. Terumah and ma’aser, portions of produce, were given respectively to a kohen and a Levite. These other mitzvos were not applicable until fourteen years after the Israelites entered the land (seven years to conquer it and seven years to divide it among the various tribes). In contrast, the mitzvah to take challah applied the moment that the Israelites crossed the Jordan River into the Holy Land.

By Biblical law, challah is taken only within the boundaries of the Land of Israel. However, the Sages instituted the taking of challah outside the Holy Land so that people living in the Diaspora would not forget the mitzvah. In order for the mitzvah of challah to have Biblical force, all (or according to the Sefer HaChinuch, a majority) of Jews must be present in the Holy Land. Ever since the forced dispersion of the Jews at the end of the First Temple era, this criterion has not been met. Therefore, challah today, both in and out of the Land of Israel, is a Rabbinic rather than a Biblical mitzvah.

Rabbi Yitzchak Hanoka is a Rabbinic Coordinator at the OK Labs
Originally published in The Jewish Homemaker
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Discussion (7)
March 8, 2011
men can do womens mitzvot?
So men can bake Challah and offer it, but women may not do mens mitzvot?

Why is that?
Gavriela Michal
August 23, 2010
RE: Challah
Yes, males may bake challah bread, and their obligation to separate challah from the dough to be burnt is equal to that of females.
Menachem Posner for
August 22, 2010
Is it ok or permitted that a Male makes Challah ?
leesburg, florida
September 26, 2009
response to alan ny, ny about challah
Today, the challah seperated by the kosher bakery is supervised by the kosher supervisory organization who make sure that the challah taken in burned. This must be done as an offering because today there are no priests that are pure enough to eat it. Do not mix up the term used here with the bread eaten on shabbat and festivals which we also call 'challah' which may be eaten by all.
August 11, 2008
RE: Challah is taken
Most kosher bakeries take challah from all their products. However, if you are in doubt, it's always okay to ask the baker!

What is done with challah today? See Challah Today.
Eliezer Posner,
August 8, 2008
challah is taken
So here is Brooklyn (outside of Israel), when we buy challah, do we assume that challah is taken by the baker? If so, where does it go? Is it given to the local rabbi or to the poor in the community?
ny, ny
January 2, 2006
I find this subject very interesting. I am not jewish, but have developed a real interest in the religion and the holiday services. I didnt realize it is a very beautiful religion. I will keep reading. Thank you.
Las Vegas, NV
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