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Hallah (Hebrew: חלה, literally "Loaf"), although in the biblical sense that which refers to the "dough-offering," is the ninth tractate of Seder Zeraim ("Order of Seeds"). Like most of the tractates in this order, it appears only in the Mishnah, and it is not written on it in the Babylonian Talmud but rather in the Talmud Yerushalmi and Tosefta only. In this tractate there are four chapters treating on one of the twenty-four sacerdotal gifts mentioned in the Hebrew Bible. During the period of the Jewish Temple, this "Hallah" was separated from dough made from either one of the five species of grain (wheat, barley, spelt, oats [var. goatgrass] and wild barley [var. rye]) and given unto a priest of Aaron's lineage (Kohen). Today, since the priests are no longer ritually clean, the "dough-portion" is separated and burnt. Before the Hallah is separated a blessing is said: "asher ḳiddeshanū bamitzvotau we'tzivanū le'hafrish challah." The amount separated is only from bread products made from at least 1.2 kilos of flour or more (without a blessing) or 1.666 kilos or more (with a blessing according to some authorities) or 2.25 kilos or more (with a blessing) and is the size of a large olive. If less than the requisite amount is used, some separate without a blessing while others do not separate at all. If no separation is done while cooking, it can be done afterwards without a blessing.
The location of the tractate in Seder Zera'im
According to Maimonides' introduction to the Mishnah, the tractate of Challah is arranged after the tractate of Ma'aser Sheni, "because after we take out all of these gifts – which are 'terumah' and maaser rishon and [maaser] sheni – then we grind it and make it into flour and knead it, and then we become obligated in 'challah.'".
The chapters of the tractate
There are 38 mishnayot in Hallah. They are divided into chapters as follows:
- חֲמִשָּׁה דְּבָרִים Five species (Nine mishnayot)[a] - what dough is required for Challah
- פֵּרוֹת Produce (Eight mishnayot) - How to separate the challah.
- אוֹכְלִין One may snack (ten mishnayot) - Laws of embezzlement of challah
- שְׁתֵּי נָשִׁים Two women - (eleven mishnayos) - the combination of doughs, and the laws of giving to a priest.
Commentaries and works on tractate Challah and its Halakhos
Unlike other tractates in the order of Zeraim, a number of essays were written on the tractate Challah. This is due to the fact that the mitzvah of dough offering is also practiced outside of Israel and during exile. In addition to the commentaries on the Mishnah and the Yerushalmi and the Rambam's rulings, the Ramban wrote Halachot (like the rulings of the Rif for the rest of the tractates), followed by Rashba and Rosh. A special place is given the Maharit Algazi's commentary on the Hilchot Challah of the Ramban.
The full text of Mishnah Tractate Challah at Wikisource
- The number of mishnayot in each chapter is according to the count in Mishnayot Kehati. In other prints there may be a different division.
- Numbers 15:18–21, "When you eat of the bread of the land, you shall offer up an offering unto G-d. Of the first of your dough you shall offer up a loaf..."
- Shulhan Arukh (Yoreh Deah, Hil. Challah, § 328:1)
- Avraham Chaim Naeh, Sefer Kuntres ha-Shi'urim, Jerusalem 1943, p. 4 (Hebrew)
- Maimonides' introduction to the Mishnah, part 15:25
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