Joint Challah Bake

Must challah be separated from dough made for a preschool challah baking?

By Rabbi Chaim Hillel Raskin, Rov of Anash in Petach Tikvah.

In honor of Shabbos, it is preferable to bake challos with the full measure so that challah can be taken.

Challah is separated with a bracha when the flour used in the dough contains a tenth of an eifah, the volume of 43.2 eggs (2500 cubic cm). Translating that measure into weight depends on a number of variables, and each type of flour yields different weights per cup. One is not required to bake that amount in order to fulfill the mitzva, but one may not purposely circumvent the obligation by making a smaller amount of dough.

When using regular white flour, challah is separated with a bracha starting from approx. 3 lb. 11 oz. of flour, and without a bracha starting from 2 lb. 11 oz. The weight measure of other flour types varies (e.g. for oats, 2.65 lb. with bracha, 1.9 lb. without bracha). Additionally, while unseparated bran and germ are counted as part of the flour, once they are separated and added back later they don’t count towards the shiur. This is relevant to many brands of whole wheat flour, as they use multiple-stream milling (as opposed to stone grinding), and it is necessary to add approx. 17% to the shiur to compensate for the bran and germ reconstituted later.

Dough made with the intention of dividing it among different people doesn’t require hafrashas challah if each of the portions will be less than the shiur. If, however, one of the portions will stay with the required shiur, the obligation remains on the entire batch. (A bakery must nonetheless separate challah from the commercial-size dough, since it is possible for one person to buy more than the shiur.)

If the portions are only divided after baking, the obligation remains. Likewise, if one splits the dough into portions for oneself to bake at different times (e.g. freezing some to bake different weeks), the batch is obligated.

In practice, when dough is divided amongst the class for each child to bring his portion home to bake, there is no obligation when every portion is less than the shiur. When the loaves are baked in school, this applies only if each child receives his own loaf that he formed before baking, for in this case, the separation took place while it was dough. If, however, each child receives a random challah, the teacher should separate challah with a bracha, as the distribution is considered to be taking place only after baking

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Discussion
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  1. Every year I make a batch of dough (5 lb) and bring it to school to teach my students about the important Mitzvah of “hafroshas Challah”. I make a brocho and separate a piece of dough. Then each student gets a (small) piece of dough to braid and takes it home to bake.
    Is there a halachak problem doing that?

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