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  • Writer's pictureRabbi Yonah Burr

The Mitzvah of Challah: A Higher Form of Giving

ראשית עריסותיכם חלה תרימו תרומה

From the first of your dough, you should separate a portion

Just as there is a mitzvah to tithe our produce, so too there is a mitzvah to tithe our dough. The Pasuk in Navi (Yechezkel 44:30) promises a special blessing to those who separate Challah. להניח ברכה אל ביתך “to bring beracha into your home”. Conversely, the Mishna in Pirkei Avos (5:8) proclaims a strict punishment to those who don’t.

What is unique about the mitzvah of Challah and how does it differ from the other tithes?

Rav Moshe Feinstein z”l offers a tremendous insight.

Hashem gave us the mitzvah of Tzedaka, along with the gifts of the tithes, to transform us into sensitive, giving people. We normally look at the tithes and Tzadaka as a tax of sorts, something that we give from our gross income, allowing us to keep the net as our take home pay. The rest is ours to spend as we see fit.

We all have different spending habits. Some splurge on luxuries and perks, while others tend to be thriftier and save. But one thing is common to all. We all have to spend on our basic expenses. We all need to eat, pay our rent or mortgage, insurance, etc. There are basic expenses that are part of our budget.

The mitzvah of Challah teaches us that gifting the Kohanim and the poor should be ‘budgeted in’ to our daily routine. Even after we already gave terumah and ma’aser from our crops and produce, and we are now ‘spending’ our profits on our basic necessities, we should tithe again; not from our profit, not from our gross income, but as a routine expense. We should consider the needs of others as needs of our own.

This is the unique blessing that the mitzvah of challah affords us; to make giving part of our daily routine and have chessed and kindness budgeted in to our lifestyle.

May we all learn to emulate Hashem’s attribute of giving, and increase our capacity to feel for others!

Have a wonderful Shabbos!

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