Sunday, 7 June 2020

Fresh Challa

Question: I like to bake fresh challa for Shabbos though it’s never enough to separate challa with a beracha. Should I rather bake a big batch for a few weeks so that I can take challa?
Answer: The Gemara (Bava Kama 82a) teaches that one of Ezra’s ten decrees was that women should get up early to bake bread. While the Gemara explains that the reason is so that the poor who go begging should have bread, the Gemara Yerushalmi (Megilla 4:1) teaches that this specifically applies to baking on Friday mornings lekavod Shabbos. Thus, the Rema (OC 242:1) stresses the importance of baking enough dough to separate challa before Shabbos and Yom Tov.
The Mishna Berura (Biur Halacha 242:5) stresses the importance of baking fresh challa lekavod Shabbos. He notes that while this practice dates back to the time of the Gemara, unfortunately, many are lax about it, choosing to buy from bakeries instead, which diminishes kavod Shabbos.
R’ Yisroel Pesach Feinhandler (Avnei Yashpei 5:45:1) demonstrates that according to the poskim, the main reason for baking challa is for kavod Shabbos, and that this takes precedence over separating challa.
Conversely, R’ Shraga Feivish Schneebalg (Shraga Hameir 8:16) argues that especially nowadays when we have freezers, one should always bake enough bread to separate challa. R’ Yisroel Dovid Harfenes (Nishmas Shabbos 102:1) writes, however, that nowadays when we eat different types of bread, it is not always feasible to bake such large batches of each. Nonetheless, he sides with R’ Schneebalg, writing that one should rather bake a bigger batch every few weeks.
In conclusion, there is merit to both baking enough to separate challa as well as baking fresh challa for Shabbos. Whichever one chooses is a great mitzva.