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The Mitzvah of Challah

Intrinsic to the Jewish Home, the mitzvah of Hafrashas Challah is famous for the blessings and holiness it brings to the woman who does it properly– to herself as well as to her home, her family, and the Jewish people.

When a woman makes a dough from 5 lbs. / 2.25 kilos of flour or more, the biblical obligation to separate off a piece of dough with a blessing, ie, the mitzvah of separating challah, comes into effect.

Every woman’s unique opportunity

The mitzvah of challah is one of the three main mitzvahs given specifically to women, to enhance the Jewish home, the mainstay of our nation. Many women, however, shy away from this vital mitzvah, thinking that it is ‘too hard’ or ‘too time consuming’ to do. Instead they opt to simply buy challahs week after week, thereby forfeiting the unique chance that only they have been given as Jewish women.

It is my hope that this website, plus the book A Taste of Challah, will aid many more women to do the important mitzvah of challah.

The source of blessing for the household

It is written in Yechezkail (44:30),
“וראשית עריסתיכם תתנו לכהן להניח ברכה אל ביתך”
“And the first of your [dough] you shall give to the Kohen, in order that blessing will rest in your home.”

Interestingly as well, it is from this particular passuk that Chazal teach us that the vehicle for the household’s blessing is through the woman – the one who has this commandment of “being mafrish” challah.

When the mitzvah of separating challah applies

It is very nice to make challahs to put on your Shabbos table. It doesn’t take much to put up a tiny dough and twist a loaf or two. However the “mitzvah” that is referred to here is when we put together a dough that has the amount of flour in it for it to have the biblical obligation of separating a piece off for the Kohen. A small dough that is less than this amount does not require this mitzvah.

For this reason, the recipes provided in A Taste of Challah are all built upon a ratio of 16-17 cups of flour, which is 5 lbs of white flour, or 2.25 kilos of flour.

According to most Rabbis (there are some opinions that hold it can be less, but for the purposes of this book I used the majority opinion) this is the basic amount needed in order to make a blessing on the dough according to the Torah. The main reason we are making challah, after all…

We can do this!

It’s not that hard. In fact, it’s not even ‘that much dough’ as so many think it is. We can bake all the challahs and then freeze them for subsequent meals and thereby fulfill the mitzvah, even in a small family, for just two people, or if you are very busy.

I hope you find this webpage informative and helpful! Here is my most basic challah recipe with the amounts in it for doing this mitzvah, and the blessings and prayers to go with it.

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