Combining Dough for Challah

Challah (2:4) | Yisrael Bankier | 5 years ago

We have learnt that for dough to be obligated in separating Challah the volume of flour used must be at least five quarter kav. The Mishnah (2:4) taught that if one made several doughs using a single kav for each and they were only touching one another, then they would not combine. If however they become interlocked then they would combine together such that one would now be required to separate challah. R’ Eliezer however adds that even if one removed the separate rolls from the oven and place them in the same basket, they would combine – the basket combines them.

The Rif’s version of our Mishnah continues with the following pasuk as being the source for R’ Eliezer’s position: “and it will be that when you eat from the bread of the land you shall take challah” (Bamidbar 15:19). The Ran explains that the pasuk implies that sometimes you will not be obligated to remove challah from dough, but only after it is baked as bread and combined in one basket.

The Minchat Shlomo (68) questions the Ran’s understanding that we can derive a basket being metzaref from that pasuk. He lists other laws for which the pasuk is necessary. For example, the Sifri (Parashat Shelach) appears to need the pasuk to teach that if one neglected to separate challah from dough and then baked it, challah would still need to be separated. Were it not for our pasuk, since the obligation of challah is related to dough, one might think that once the dough is baked it is too late.

Another example (amongst many) is the ruling of the Shulchan Aruch (YD 329:3) that if one kneaded dough with the intention of cooking it or leaving it out in the sun to dry then it is exempt from challah since only if it was kneaded for baking bread is there an obligation. The source of this law is the pasuk cited above. The Minchat Shlomo continues that even though Rabbeinu Tam (Pesachim) disagrees, the reason is that one could use that dough to bake bread. Note that “lechem ha’aretz” is necessary for all opinions. How then can we derive the law of tziruf from this pasuk?

The Minchat Shlomo answers, that the pasuk is simply teaching that just as there is an obligation of challah on dough, there is also an obligation on bread. He demonstrates that this logic underpins all he laws he raised as requiring this pasuk. He continues to reasons that that being the case, there is no reason to require that the five quarter kav all be in a single loaf. When it comes to dough, since the volume is derived from the mun they received in the desert, it makes sense that it should be one mass. However, once they received and baked it, it was done so not as one mass but as small rolls. Now since five quarter kav can be divided into small rolls it makes sense that to be obligated in challah a vessel would be required to combine them.1

The Mishnah Rishona asks, how does combining the doughs after they have been kneaded help to now make them obligated in separating Challah? When they were kneaded, which is the time that they become obligated in separating Challah they were exempt. We have seen a few Mishnayot where since they were exempt at that point in time, it meant that Challah need not be separated. For example, if they were the property of a hekdesh (3:3) or a goi (3:5) at the time when the dough was formed, and later become the property of an Yisrael it is exempt from separating challah. Why is the law different in this case?

He answers that the difference between our Mishnah and the other cases is that in the other cases, the dough was of a sufficient quantity when it was formed – at the time of the chiyuv (obligation). There however were other – external – reasons why it was exempt. It therefore continues to stay exempt. In our case however, since it was less than the minimum size, it never entered the realm of chiyuv. We can therefore cannot say that since at the time of the chiyuv it was exempt, since it never reached that point. Only once it combines to make the minimum quantity has it reach the point of chiyuv.


1 The Minchat Shlomo continues that once we learn the concept of tziruf kli by lechem it can equally apply to dough. The starting point however of the derivation is from the pasuk that applies to lechem. Please note, we have cited only small fraction of the Minchat Shlomo’s analysis on tziruf kli for challah. Please see the Minchat Shlomo inside for more details.

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