Bnei Yisrael were well aware that they would never see the Promised Land. Some of them even began to think not even their children or grandchildren would enter the land. It would never happen! Perhaps, G-d forbid, the Jewish nation would sin again and perish in the desert!
So HaShem comforted them when He introduced a new Mitzvah. “Challah is a Mitzvah you are required to do when you enter the Land of Israel.”
“Indeed, HaShem is giving us a Mitzvah to perform when we come into Eretz Yisrael.”
“Yes, Baruch HaShem! Just hearing about the Promised Land puts me in great spirits!”
The people listened closely as Moshe explained the new Mitzvah.
“When you knead the dough for your bread – or even Matzah for Pesach – you should separate a piece and give it to a Kohen. Breaking off this piece of dough is called “taking Challah” – and the dough is holy! Only a Kohen who is pure may eat it. This is a beautiful Mitzvah for women to do when they prepare for Shabbos. Any questions?”
“Yes – what if the woman of the house is not available?”
“In that case, any member of the household can perform this Mitzvah. Also, when you use at least 5 pounds of flour, there’s a special Brachah (blessing) to say when you take Challah.”
That Brachah begins with the standard “Baruch Atah…” and ends with two words – “LeHafrish Challah.”
Today, taking Challah is still a Mitzvah, even though originally it was intended only for Jews in Israel and during the times of the Beis HaMikdash. But nowadays, the Kohanim are no longer in a pure spiritual state, so, instead of giving the piece of dough to them, we make sure to separate a piece of dough from each batch, without having any pleasure from this piece.
And how do we accomplish not having any pleasure from this piece of dough? Simple! We burn it.
What do you think of when you hear the word “Challah”?
Probably, the delightful loaves of braided bread that you eat on Shabbos, straight from your mom’s oven or perhaps from the neighborhood bakery. Deeeeelicious!
Well, it’s true that we call those breads we eat for the Shabbos meals, “Challah,” but the Mitzvah of Challah refers to the part of the breads we don’t eat, and it applies equally to pumpernickel bread, rye bread, Matzah, you name it!