Hafrashas Challah

What is the mitzvah of hafrashas challah?

The Torah (Bamidar 15:19-20) commands us to separate challah:

“והיה באכלכם מלחם הארץ תרימו תרומה לה’ ראשית עריסותיכם חלה תרימו תרומה…”

When making at least an amount of an “Isaron” of dough from the Five Species of Grain with the intention of baking it in the oven, we are required to separate challah and give it to the kohen (in the times of the Beis HaMikdash, when the kohanim were tahor).

How Do I Separate Challah?

Who Should Separate the Challah?

The mitzvah of hafrashas challah is incumbent on the owner of the dough, whether a man or a woman.
The custom is for women to separate challah. If a husband wants to separate challah, ideally he should ask permission from his wife, but if he separated challah without permission the mitzvah is still valid.


How Much Do I Separate?

According to the Torah, there is no minimum amount that must be separated, and even a small piece is enough. The Sages provided amounts for this mitzvah, but nowadays, when the kohanim are tamei and they cannot eat the challah, we separate just a small piece. The custom is to separate a k’zayis.

When Do I Separate the Challah?

Ideally, challah should be separated after kneading the dough, before it is baked. If challah was not separated before baking, it should be separated after baking.

The Order of Hafrashas Challah

There are two ways to separate challah:

Option 1:
1. Separate a piece of dough from the batch. When separating the piece, have in mind that you are not yet fulfilling the mitzvah of hafrashas challah.
2. Place the separated piece near the rest of the dough, but do not let them touch.
3. Recite the blessing:

“ברוך אתה ה’ אלוקינו מלך העולם אשר קידשנו במצוותיו וציוונו להפריש חלה”
(“יש אומרים : “להפריש חלה מן העיסה” ויש אומרים “להפריש חלה תרומה”)

Baruch ata Hashem Elokeinu Melech HaOlam, asher kideshanu b’mitzvosav v’tzivanu l’hafrish challah.
Some say “l’hafrish challah min ha-isah,” and some say “l’hafrish challah terumah.”

4. Holding the piece that you separated, say:

הרי זו חלה
“Harei zo challah”
(This is challah)

Option 2:
1. Recite the blessing on hafrashas challah (as above).
2. Separate a piece of the dough.
3. Holding the piece that you separated, say: “Harei zo challah” (This is challah).

What Do I Do With the Piece I Separated?

It is forbidden to eat the piece of dough that you separated for hafrashas challah, and it is a mitzvah to burn it. (It should not be burned in the oven, but it may be burned on the stovetop.)
Some people keep the separated challah in the freezer and burn it on Erev Pesach with their chametz. If you do this, you must be very careful not to inadvertently eat the dough.
If you cannot burn the challah, wrap it in a plastic bag and throw it in the garbage in a respectful way.

What Kind of Dough Requires Hafrashas Challah?

Before separating challah, make sure the dough actually requires it.
Dough that requires hafrashas challah is dough that is made from one of the Five Species of Grain and is going to be baked in the oven.

What Are the Five Species of Grain?
The Five Species of Grain are wheat, barley, rye, oats, and spelt.

How Much Is an “Isaron”?
The Sages say that an Isaron is the volume of 43 and 1/5 eggs. (This is hinted to in the numerical value of the Hebrew word חלה, which is 43.) In contemporary terms, there is a difference of opinion as to how much this is and how much flour you must use in order to separate challah. Bear in mind that the amount varies according to the type of flour. The amounts listed here are approximate.

Weight Chart for Types of Flour

Without a blessing According to the Chazon Ish According to Rav Chaim Naeh  
.Approx. 1.200-1.250 kg / 2.645-2.755 lbs .Approx. 2.250 kg / 4.960 lbs .Approx. 1.666 kg / 3.672 lbs White wheat flour
.Approx. 1.150-1.200 kg / 2.535-2.645 lbs .Approx. 2.200 kg / 4.850 lbs .Approx. 1.616 kg / 3.562 lbs Whole wheat flour
.Approx. 1.050 kg / 2.314 lbs .Approx. 2.085 kg / 4.596 lbs .Approx. 1.420 kg / 3.130 lbs Barley
.Approx. 1.175 kg / 2.590 lbs .Approx. 2.205 kg / 4.861 lbs .Approx. 1.640 kg / 3.615 lbs Spelt
.Approx. 890 grams / 1.962 .Approx. 1.805 kg / 3.979 lbs .Approx. 1.197 kg / 2.638 lbs Oats
.Approx. 1.040 kg / 2.292 .Approx. 2.030 kg / 4.475 lbs .Approx. 1.390 / 3.064 lbs Rye

When separating challah with a blessing, it is highly advisabe to be stringent and add an extra 50-100 grams (2-4 ounces) of flour to the amount listed above.
When using less flour than listed here, Ashkenazim have the custom to separate challah without a blessing. See the “without a blessing” column in this chart. Sephardim do not separate challah at all from smaller batches of dough.

Which Type of Dough Requires Hafrashas Challah?

Dough only requires hafrashas challah if it is going to be baked. If you intend to cook or fry the dough, such as when making doughnuts, challah is not separated. Ashkenazim separate challah without a blessing.
Even if most of the dough is going to cooked, but a small piece of it is baked, it requires hafrashas challah with a bracha.

The Liquid in the Dough:
In order for the dough to require hafrashas challah, it must be made with one of the Seven Liquids. The Seven Liquids include : wine, honey, oil, milk, and water.
If the dough was made using only fruit juice, such as orange juice or apple juice, and none of the Seven Liquids were used at all, it requires hafrashas challah. According to some poskim challah should be separated without a blessing.. (It is recommended to avoid making dough like this, but to add a little water to the dough.)

Dough Intended for Distribution:
If the dough is divided among a number of people before it is baked, and each person receives less than an amount that requires hafrashas challah, challah must not be separated.
If the dough is divided among a number of people after baking, challah must be separated

What Else Should I Know About Hafrashas Challah?

Combining Doughs:

If you mix a few different types of flour to create one large batch of dough, hafrashas challah is required.
If you make separate batches of dough from each type of flour and then put them together, they may or may not combine to require hafrashas challah.
For example:
1. If you have two types of dough that taste different, and each batch is too small to require hafrashas challah on its own but together they are large enough to require hafrashas challah, if you are generally careful to keep them separate (such as when you have one sweet dough and one savory dough), they do not combine to require hafrashas challah.
2. Combining Doughs in a Container: If you have batches of dough or baked goods that are too small to require hafrashas challah, but they were placed in a container or bag with other, similar doughs or baked goods, and together the amount is large enough to require hafrashas challah, challah must be separated.
According to some opinions, a freezer is considered a “container” that combines its contents to require hafrashas challah.

How Old Do You Have to Be to Separate Challah?

A boy younger than 12 and a girl younger than 11 may not separate challah. If they did, challah should be separated again.
A boy aged 12 and a girl aged 11 ideally should not separate challah before they reach the age of bar or bas mitzvah. If they did separate challah, according to some opinions the mitzvah is valid, and acording to others challah should be separated again.