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Shabbat Parashat Tazria| 5771

Ask the Rabbi: Discarding Removed Challa

Rav Daniel Mann

Question: What is the preferred manner of disposing of the piece of challa that one takes from her dough: burning it or wrapping it up and throwing it in the garbage?

 

Answer: Challa is supposed to be given to a kohen, in theory to eat, which is one of many ways it is related to the laws of teruma (see Rambam, Bikurim 5: 13-14). If teruma becomes tameh (impure), it may not be eaten. The gemara (Shabbat 25a) derives that just as tameh kodahsim (sacrifices) are to be burnt, so too tameh teruma is burnt, and this is true of tameh challa as well (see mishna, Challa 4:8). All challa is tameh in our days because we all are tameh. Although food does not become tameh before it is touched by one of seven liquids, challa, which is taken from dough, is always touched by water. Therefore, the Rama (Yoreh Deah 322:5) gives standard instructions to take off a k’zayit for challa and burn it.

Where would one burn the challa? Challa is forbidden for a non-kohen and, therefore, one would not think to burn it in her regular oven. The Rama (ibid.) says that one should make a separate fire, but for an unexpected reason: a non-kohen must not receive benefit from the heat it gives off. He continues that the minhag is to burn it in the oven before baking the bread. Ovens used to have a separate chamber with fuel and fire, and one could throw the challa in among the fuel. Nowadays, gas or electric ovens have one chamber where things bake and do not usually burn (unless one puts the temperature very high and/or leaves it for a long time).

Still most poskim seem to prefer burning the challa even in the oven. Why doesn’t baking this “treif” food create a kashrut problem? Indeed, whatever surface touches the hot but not yet burnt challa will need to be koshered and therefore one should have a treif tray to put it on. However, the challa vapors are not a problem. The Shulchan Aruch and Rama (YD 108:1) rule that reicha (odor) from non-kosher meat does not forbid kosher meat roasted in the same large oven b'dieved. The following situations improve matters further: the foods are not fatty, the two are not in the oven at the same time, one of them is covered with dough (helpful regarding milchig and fleishig as opposed to treif). May we set up this situation in the first place? The Shach (citing the Issur V’heter) says that it is permitted to bake rabbinically forbidden food together with kosher food. (Challa is a rabbinic law outside Israel, and even in Israel in our times- Shulchan Aruch, YD 322:2). Because not all agree, many suggest wrapping the challa in foil. Realize that it takes longer for it to burn that way and that the dough rises and may burst through its encasing before it burns. Many are concerned that the chance of mistake is great, as is the inconvenience. (Burning on the stovetop has some advantages, but the smell of burnt bread, and the (remote?) possibility of a fire are issues.)

Therefore, some say that one may dispose of the challa in the garbage, after wrapping it (some say double wrap, which seems to be a chumra) to avoid disgracing it. The major justification is based by on Rashi (Shabbat 25a; see Tosafot ad loc.) that it is not a mitzva to burn the challa per se, but there is a matter of removing the danger that someone will eat it. Therefore, throwing it out may be preferable to waiting for a chance to burn it (Minchat Yitzchak IV, 13, based on the Chazon Ish, Maasrot 7:13). We cannot do justice to the halachic analysis, but let us say that despite the fact that Rashi’s opinion is the minority and is difficult, this option has become increasingly common (including in kosher bakeries) and accepted by many rabbanim (some suggesting mitigating factors that are beyond our scope). Thus, if one finds it difficult to settle on a feasible and safe (physically and kashrut-wise) system of burning the challa, she should not feel guilty if she adopts the system of wrapping the challa and discarding it in the garbage.

 

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