Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Korach, Bamidbar 18:19. Separating Challa from Play Dough

Among the entitlements of the Kohanim is the familiar mitzva of Challah.  If you make dough using five pounds or more of flour, you have to separate Challah with a Bracha.  We know that until you separate the Challah, you cannot eat the rest.  But what if you have no intention of consuming the dough in any form at any time? In that case, you don't need to permit the dough, because you're not going to eat it anyway.  Is there still a mitzva to separate the challa in that case?  For example, if you're a kindergarten teacher and you're making play dough for the children.  Play dough is salty wheat dough.  Let's assume it's edible.  Indeed, the children will probably eat some of it, but they also eat dead flies, and in any case, that's not the purpose of the dough.  It is intended to be a plaything.  Do you have to separate challah?

(I hope you realize that I really don't care if you have to be mafrish challa from play-dough.  Echoing Reb Yirmiah's method, I chose it to illustrate the shittos on Hafrashas Challa in a memorable manner.  A less loopy example would be dough that was made to seal pots while they cook, as noted in Shabbas 51b.  I assume they threw it out afterwards.)

In other words, is the mitzva of hafrashas Challah a mattir- a utilitarian means of removing an issur and allowing you to eat the remainder, which, therefore, would only need to be done when you want to eat the remainder, or is it inherently requisite when you have dough, a self standing mitzva irrespective of what you intend to do or not do with the rest of it.   Or, put it this way:  is it dictated only by a desire to generate a specific consequence, or it dictated by current circumstances.  For example: The Rambam says that we don't have mitzva to go and shecht an animal.  But if one desires to eat meat, the mitzva is to be mattir it by means of Shechita.  Rambam 1 Shechita 1:
מצות עשה שישחוט מי שירצה לאכול בשר בהמה חיה ועוף ואחר כך יאכל שנאמר וזבחת מבקרך ומצאנך.   The Kesef Mishna saysמצות עשה שישחוט מי שירצה לאכול וכו'. כתב מי שירצה, לומר שאינה מצוה שחייב האדם לעשותה עכ"פ כמו תפילין וציצית שופר סוכה ולולב.   In fact, for this reason the Raavad in the Minyan Hamitzvos in the Yad holds that Shechita should not be counted among the mitzvos.  Shechita is definitely only a mattir, not an act that is inherently requisite.

Other mitzvos are inherently necessary.  For example, you cannot eat a korban until the blood is placed on the Mizbei'ach.  What if you cannot eat the korban (e.g., chattas ha'of al hasafeik)?  Do you still have to put the blood on the Mizbei'ach?  Of course you do!  The permission to eat the korban that results from doing the mitzva is not the reason you do the mitzva, it is a tangential result.

So what is the story with Hafrashas Challa?  Is it a mitzva in and of itself or only a mattir?

This happens to be a machlokes the Magen Avraham and Reb Akiva Eiger and Rashi (and maybe the Rambam) against the Taz and the Gaon (and maybe the Ramban).  The  Magen Avraham  in OC 8:2 asks why the mishna in Challa allows the bracha on hafrashas challa while seated, when in general brachos should be said while standing.  He answers that this mitzva is only a mattir, like Shechita, so it is not like other mitzvos.  The Gaon there disagrees, as follows: ודברי מג"א שחלה אינה מצוה, דבריו אין להם שחר, והלא אסור לעשות עיסתו קבין כדי להפקיע חיוב חלה כאמור ביו"ד סי' שכ"ד סי"ד ואמרי' בפ"ג דפסחים [מח,ב,] מאי דעתך לחומרא חומרא דאתי לידי קולא, דמפקע ליה מחלה   The Taz in YD 1:17 says clearly that there is a mitzva to be mafrish even if you have no intention of eating the rest and don't need a mattir.  Reb Akiva Eiger there mentions the Magen Avraham and holds like him, against the Taz:  לא מצאתי זה, דבפשוטו הוא רק כשרוצה לאכלו אסור עד שיפריש תרומה, ובמג"א ריש סי' ח' כתב כן לענין חלה ע"ש, וה"נ בתרומה.  Reb Aharon and the Chavatzeles Hasharon (Carlebach, Gilly's brother in law) point out that the passuk in Shlach, Bamidbar 15:19, and a similar passuk by Teruma in Devarim 14:22, use the word "B'achlechem," which seems to support the Magen Avraham.  Also, see Rashi in Gittin 47b: ד"ה מדאורייתא: דביכורים מצוה דרמיא עליה היא ולא טבלי לאסור פירות באכילה וכו'. ולא דמי למעשר וכו' דמעשר טביל ואסר ליה באכילה, ולא מצוה דרמיא עליה היא, אלא אם כן אוכלן או מוכרן דקא משתרשי ליה, clearly like the Magen Avraham.

This issue arises in Chalitza as well.  Is chalitza only necessary as a mattir or is it a mitzva of its own?  What if the Yevama is elderly and there is no chance in the world that she will remarry; is it a mitzva for her to do Chalitza?  This is a machlokes between the Chasam Sofer in his Teshuvos EH II 85 (no, because it's only a mattir) and Reb Moshe in his Dibros in Kiddushin He'arah 113 (yes, because it's a mitzva chiyuvis, from the Gemara in Kiddushin 14a.)  And what about Shiluach Hakan?  Also a machlokes the Chasam Sofer (it's only a mattir) and the Mekubalim (it's a big mitzva.)  What about going to the mikva to remove your tum'ah?  A machlokes Tana'im, whether Tevilla Bizmana Mitzva (see Yoma 8a and Shabbos 121a).

Interestingly, a closely related issue arises regarding Kiddushin:  See Rosh Kesuvos 1:12, who writes:
למה באמת אין מברכין אשר קדשנו במצותיו וצונו לקדש את האשה?  ונ"ל כי ברכה זו אינה ברכה לעשיית המצוה כי פריה ורביה היינו קיום המצוה, ואם לקח פלגש וקיים פו"ר אינו מחוייב לקדש אשה כו' ואף בנושא אשה לשם פו"ר כיון שאפשר לקיים מצות פו"ר בלא קידושין, ולא דמי לשחיטה שאינו מחוייב לשחוט ולאכול, ואפ"ה כשהוא שוחט לאכול מברך, דהתם אי אפשר לו לאכול בלא שחיטה אבל הכא אפשר לקיים פו"ר בלא קידושין כו' .

So, the bottom line is that if you make a lot of play-dough, it's a machlokes achronim whether you have to be mafrish challah.  It will probably feel silly to be mafrish and burn play dough challah even if you're not making a bracha.  You don't have to be Korach to scratch your head at this one.  But you're going to have to come up with a reason the Taz and the Gaon wouldn't require it.

Maybe it's inedible, but we'd have to do an experiment.  You really can't rely on what kids eat.  Any volunteers?

Here's an additional ha'ara in the shitta of the Taz and the Gaon to answer Reb Aharon's raya from באכלכם:  I originally thought that just because Chametz Noksha (חמץ נוקשה ייחדו לישיבה see  חזון איש קט"ז) is not a problem of Baal Yei'ra'eh doesn't mean the same applies to Hilchos Challah- but maybe it does, even according to the Taz.  In fact, perhaps this is what the Taz does with the word "b'achle'chem"- not that you have to want to eat it, because he holds it's not just a utilitarian mitzva, it's a self-standing mitzva.  But B'ach'lechem tells you that if you intend to use it for a non-food purpose, it becomes like chametz noksha and is pattur from Challah.  No intent at all- chayav.  Intent to make tzatzkes- pattur.  

If so, we can say that even according to the Taz/Gaon, intent for a non-food purpose is different than no intent at all, and you would be pattur here.  If you have any thoughts on the matter, let me know. 

When I said that the Rambam and the Ramban can be read to agree with, respectively, the Magen Avraham and the Taz, I was referring to their argument in Sefer Hamitzvos Shoresh 12.  The Rambam says that he doesn't want to count as mitzvos such actions that are only part of a mitzva, like making the utensils of the Mishkan and making the Mishkan as a whole.  The Bahag disagrees.  One of the examples of this disagreement is Matnos Kehuna, in which the Rambam combines the separating and the giving into one mitzva.  The Ramban argues and says that that's only true in some matanos; the ones that render the mixture tevel prior to separation have two separate mitzvos, the separating and the giving.  The ones that do not render the mixture tevel prior to separation have only one mitzva; the separation together with the giving.  The Ramban's example is- Challah.  He brings from the Sifri that there are two separate mitzvos by Teruma, the hafrasha and the nesina.  He also says that if the Rambam were right, it wouldn't make sense to make a bracha on the hafrasha, since that's not the gmar of the mitzva.

The truth is, that the Rambam himself (mitzvos 126) says that the separation of Truma Gedola is a mitzva, and he says the same in his introduction to Trumos in the Yad.  It might be said that the Rambam holds that the purpose of the hafrasha is not to permit the remainder, but to generate matanos that you can give to the Cohen.  The Ramban clearly holds that it is the generating of the permit on the remainder that is the "purpose" of the mitzva of Hafrasha, because if it were to generate matanos, his distinction between matanos that make the rest tevel and matanos that don't.


  1. 1. It seems relevant to discuss עיסת הכלבים - according to the Rambam intent for כלבים is enough. Ramban and שו"ע של,ח require also that the shape would look accordingly (this is probably only דרבנן). So I'd say Play-dough is out. Moreover, the פת"ש there says that in חו"ל the intention is enough.

    Anyway, this seems to support your point that non-eating intention is פטור even according to the Taz, otherwise how would he explain עיסת הכלבים according to R. Yochanan.

    2. Even according to the מג"א - one may be מפריש בברכה (Rav Weiss Minchas Asher on Shlach, based on השוחט לכלבים)

    3. Forgive my ignorance - who's Reb Aharon? באכלכם could mean only ראוי לאכילה, or something else. However, Torah Shleima beings Midrash HaGadol that uses באכלכם to exclude עיסת הכלבים.

  2. Reb Aharon Kotler. I heard it on the street, didn't see it inside. But to say that the Magen Avraham holds like the Taz is revisionism at its worst, issas klavim notwithstanding. I don't know what he does with that sugya, and I have to think about it.