Baking Challahs for Shabbos

Baking Challahs for Shabbos:[1]

It is customary for every household to bake Challahs for Shabbos which are used for Lechem Mishneh and not to buy them at the bakery as is done during the week. This matter of baking one’s own Challah is included in the honoring of Shabbos and Yom Tov. One is not to divert from this custom.[2]

How much is one to bake? One is to bake at least the amount that requires one to remove Challah from the dough.[3]

Pas Akum[4]:[5] (For those who are accustomed to eating Pas Akum throughout the week it is proper for them to refrain from eating it on Shabbos and Yom Tov. Rather they are to eat from the Kosher breads which have been kneaded in their homes, as this is included in the Mitzvah of honoring Shabbos and Yom Tov.[6])


One is to bake Challahs for Shabbos as opposed to buying them from a store.



Why today are not all women particular to bake Challahs for Shabbos and rather they buy Challahs from the store?

Some Poskim[7] rule that today being that fresh and tasty Challahs are available in all bakeries it is not necessary for every woman to bake Challahs in their home. This especially applies if there is much work needed to be done for Shabbos in the home and it is a short Friday. Other Poskim[8] however argue that even today one may not divert from the custom of baking Challahs in the home.


May one bake only a few Challahs and buy the remainder from a bakery even according to the above custom?[9]

Yes. One may use some home baked Challahs and some bakery Challahs even according to the above-mentioned custom.


Is one to bake the Challahs specifically on Erev Shabbos?

Yes.[10] It is proper to bake the Challahs specifically on Erev Shabbos.[11] If, however, one is unable to do so, he may also bake them on Thursday or Thursday night.


May one bake Challahs for Shabbos at the same time he is baking meat or chicken?[12]

Covered: If the meat or chicken is covered, it is allowed to bake the Challah simultaneously if the oven is clean of any meat or chicken residue. If the bread is covered it may be done in all cases. In both of the above cases, the bread remains Pareve [although in the former case, only if the oven was not Ben Yomo, as explained next].

Uncovered: If the meat and bread are both uncovered, it is forbidden to bake the Challah together with the meat unless 1) one will not eat the bread with dairy [as the bread becomes meaty], and 2) is only baking enough to last that Shabbos, or is forming the Challahs in a special shape that reminds him of its meat status, so he does not come to eat it with dairy. If one transgressed and baked them together without fulfilling the above conditions, then by today’s ovens, seemingly the bread is forbidden just as if it were kneaded with meat.[13] One is to thus contact a Rav.]


May one bake Challahs directly after he baked meat or chicken in the oven? Do the Challahs remain Pareve in such a case?[14]

Meat residue in oven:[15] One may not bake bread on a surface that contains meat residue [unless 1) one will not eat the bread with dairy, and 2) is only baking enough to last that day, or is forming the Challahs in a special shape that reminds him of its meat status, so he does not come to eat it with dairy]. If one transgressed and did so, then the bread receives the same law as bread that was kneaded with milk/meat [in which case we rule that the bread is forbidden to be eaten[16]].

How to clean an oven of residue:[17] A meat [or dairy] oven must be cleaned of residue prior to baking bread inside of it, as explained above. The only way a proper cleaning can be accomplished is through performing Libun [even Kal] inside of the oven. [This can be accomplished by turning the oven on to a hot temperature and having it burn out any leftover residue.[18]] It does not suffice to merely clean the oven with a sponge and water, without also turning it on and burning any leftover residue that is inside.[19]

No meat residue in oven:[20] If there is no residue of meat/dairy in the oven, and one preheats the oven to burn any meat/dairy residue that it may contain, then one may bake the Challahs in the oven even if it was previously used to bake meat/dairy.[21] In such a case the Challahs remain Pareve.[22] Some Poskim[23] rule that this applies even if the oven is Ben Yomo of meat/dairy use at the time of the baking.[24] However, other Poskim[25] rule that one may never bake bread in a meat or milk oven which is Ben Yomo and if one did so, then one may not eat the food together with the opposite food but may eat it before or afterwards.[26] Practically, one is to be stringent like this approach if possible and wait 24 hours from meat use prior to baking bread[27], however, in a time of need one may suffice with turning on the oven for 15 minutes and “Koshering” its walls from its Ben Yomo use, and then bake Pareve Challahs in the meat oven.[28]


Separating Challah:[29]

The greatness of the Mitzvah:[30] The Mitzvah of separating Challah is very great. It corresponds in Gematria to all 613 Mitzvos.[31] In merit of this Mitzvah blessing is found in one’s home and livelihood[32] and women are protected during childbirth.[33] In merit of this Mitzvah we were granted ability to enter Eretz Yisrael.[34]

Charity:[35] Some are accustomed to give charity prior to separating the Challah.

The amount of flour needed to separate with a blessing:[36] One may only separate Challah with a blessing if he has 1,666.6[37] grams of flour.[38] If one has less than this amount but more than 1,250 grams[39] he is to separate Challah without a blessing. If one has even less than this amount of 1,250 grams, then one does not separate Challah at all.

How much dough is one to separate:[40] Lechatchila, the custom is to separate one Kezayis [approximately 28 grams[41]] of dough. If one separated less than this amount it is nevertheless valid.

Saying the blessing? One is to designate an area from the dough that the Challah will be separated from. Then one is to say the blessing of “Lehafrish Challah[42]”. One then separates[43] a Kezayis of dough and says “Hareiy Zu Challah” or “This is Challah”.[44] If one separated the Challah prior to the blessing one may still say the blessing if he [or she] has not yet said “Hareiy Zu Challah”.[45]

Praying for one’s children:[46] It is a great Segula to pray for one’s children upon separating Challah. One is to pray that one’s children be Tzaddikim, and G-d fearing Jews.[47]

What to do with the Challah:[48] The separated piece of Challah is to be wrapped in tinfoil and burnt in the oven [or on the stove].[49] It is to be wrapped well to the point that the dough will not become revealed while being burnt, as Challah is forbidden to be eaten and thus burning it in the oven is similar to cooking a non-kosher food in one’s oven.[50] Due to this reason, one is to never bake any other foods in the oven until the Challah is burnt or removed. Alternatively, rather than burning the Challah, one is to wrap[51] the Challah and discard it in the garbage.[52] Practically, today this is the more preferred custom to follow due to a Kashrus worry that the tinfoil of the Challah may open prior to the Challah becoming fully burnt hence causing a Kashrus issue for the oven.[53] Furthermore, today most garbage is burnt and hence one regardless fulfills the Mitzvah of burning the Challah when discarding it in the trash, and there is thus no need to burn it in one’s Kosher oven.

May one save the Challahs in his freezer until Bedikas Chameitz? No. It is forbidden to own non-Kosher food in one’s home for a long period of time due to fear one may come to eat the food.[54] It may only remain in one’s home for a short period of time, between one to two months.[55]


The name Challah:

Bread in Hebrew is called Lechem while the separated dough is called Challah. It is customary to call the Shabbos bread Challah in order to serve as a reminder to women to separate Challah from the dough.[56] In previous times, it was common in many communities to refer to the Shabbos bread as “Barchas.” The reason for this is because these Challahs serve as a channel of blessing during the Shabbos meal.[57]


Shape of the Challah’s:

It is customary to form the Challahs for Shabbos as a long straight dough. This is opposed to round or square. The reason for this is because the Challahs represent the letter Vav of the Tetragrammaton.[58] Alternatively the two Challahs in the shape of a Vav represent the twelve showbreads of the Temple, as Vav is Gemtria of six.[59]

Rosh Hashanah:[60] The ancient custom of Ashkenazi Jewry is to bake round Challahs in honor of Rosh Hashanah. This symbolizes the roundness of a crown and corresponds to the coronation of Hashem on Rosh Hashanah. Alternatively, it is done as a symbol of good omen as all round items due to not have a start or finish and hence reflects longevity of life. Likewise, round represents unity. Some[61] write that this applies only on Rosh Hashanah itself, however on Shabbos Shuva one is to return to the accustomed shape of the two Vav’s.

Braid: It is customary to braid the Challahs baked for Shabbos as in the past it was common to add meat gravy to the dough and hence the Challah required a sign that would remind one not to eat it with dairy.[62] This custom has remained today as well despite that the Challahs are left Pareve.


Placing the Challah on the table after baking:

Some Poskim[63] record that the custom is to place the Challahs that will be eaten Friday night on the Shabbos table directly after removing them from the oven, and that doing so is included within Kavod Shabbos.[64] This is not the current widespread custom.[65] Nevertheless, it is proper to do so.[66]



[1] Admur 242:12; Rama 242:1; 529:2 regarding Erev Yom Tov

[2] The reason: The reason behind this custom of baking Challahs on Erev Shabbos is due to the Mitzvah to honor Shabbos. [Admur ibid] The effort exerted in the kneading and baking for the sake of Shabbos, rather than buying it from a store, honors Shabbos. [M”B 242:6] Likewise, having fresh and hot homebaked bread likewise honors Shabbos. [Siddur Yaaveyz; Likutei Mahrich] Likewise it resembles the showbread which was baked on Erev Shabbos. [Siddur Yaavetz; Likutei Mahrich] Likewise, separating Challah rectifies the sin of Adam, that occurred on Erev Shabbos, which was the Challah of the world. [M”A 243:4; M”B 242:6]

[3] See also Shach Yoreh Deah 324:25 that the women are scrupulous to specifically bake enough to separate Shiur Challah on Erev Shabbos.

[4] Gentile baked bread

[5] 242:13

[6] As for why this law was placed in parentheses by Admur, see Chikreiy Halachos 3:30

[7] Oar Letziyon 2:47; Mishnes Yosef 5:63

[8] Mishneh Halachos 15:95

[9] Chelkas Yaakov 1:59

[10] Seder Hayom; Siddur Yaavetz; Machatzis Hashekel 242:10; Likutei Mahrich

[11] As amongst the reasons for baking Challahs for Shabbos is because it resembles the showbread which were baked on Erev Shabbos as well as that it rectifies the sin of Adam which was the Challah of the world.[See Siddur Yaavetz; M”B 242:6]

[12] See “A Semicha Aid for the Laws of Basar Bechalav” Chapter 97

[13] See Shach 108:11 or “A Semicha Aid for Learning the Laws of Taaruvos” chapter 108 Halacha 2I and 3A; Chochmas Adam 62:6; Kreisy 108:12; Kaf Hachaim 108:33; Igros Moshe 1:40; See Darkei Halacha p. 242; Mahrsham 3:208; Minchas Yitzchak 5:20; Kinyan Torah 1:24

Opinions that are lenient: See Peri Chadash 108:10 who argues on the entire ruling of the Shach ibid which prohibits the bread; See the following Poskim who are lenient in certain cases even if the bread was actually kneaded with milk or meat: Kreisy Upleisy 97:1 in name of his grandfather; Daas Eish 12 and Chamudei Daniel brought in Darkei Teshuvah 97:21Hakashrus 10 footnote 33 in name of Rav Moshe Halbershtam; Kreisy Upleisy 97:1 in name of his grandfather.

[14] See Igros Moshe 1:40; Pischeiy Halacha p. 27; 157; Hakashrus 1:40; Kinyan Torah 1:24; Minchas Yitzchak 5:20 or “A Semicha Aid for Learning the Laws of Taaruvos” chapter 108 Halacha 2I and 3A

[15] Michaber 97:1 and 3

[16] Minchas Yaakov 60:1; Kaf Hachaim 97:18; This is referring to the bread baking of previous times in which the oven was often fueled with fat of the tail of an animal, and the bread would then be placed directly on the oven wall for baking. The same would apply today if one placed the pan on top of meat gravy and the like

[17] Michaber 97:2

[18] Kinyan Torah 1:24

[19] Taz 97:4; Peri Chadash 97:4; Chavas Daas 97:9; Aruch Hashulchan 97:12; Kaf Hachaim 97:34]

The reason: As the fat does not clean off well and requires the oven to be lit in order to burn the fat. [Poskim ibid]

[20] See Igros Moshe 1:40; Pischeiy Halacha p. 27; 157; Hakashrus 1:40; Kinyan Torah 1:24; Minchas Yitzchak 5:20 or “A Semicha Aid for Learning the Laws of Taaruvos” chapter 108 Halacha 2I and 3A

[21] Kinyan Torah ibid writes that one is to simply turn the oven on for some time prior to baking the Pareve food and this will verify that any leftover food in the oven has become destroyed.

[22] See Igros Moshe 1:40; Pischeiy Halacha p. 27; 157; Hakashrus 1:40

[23] Igros Moshe 1:40; All Poskim who rule Nat Bar Nat is even initially permitted

[24] The reason: As Challahs are dry and hence do not release vapor. [Igros Moshe ibid] This also follows those Poskim who rule that dry foods do not release a problematic vapor: Toras Chatas 35:6 [See Minchas Yaakov ibid]; Masas Moshe 4:30; P”M O.C. Hanhagos Horaos Issur Viheter Seder Sheiyni 37, brought in Pischeiy Teshuvah 92:6 that only liquids release vapor; Beis Meir 461; Poskim in Darkei Teshuvah 92:164; Igros Moshe 1:40 unless one sees that it released vapor; See Tzemach Tzedek ibid who brings the P”M but then negates his conclusion as being not substantive; See Admur 451:42 regarding a Chararah who states the pot requires Libun because it touches it most of the time, and does not mention the aspect of Zeiah [brought in Tur and Bach ibid], however seemingly, this is simply because Admur is explaining why it needs Libun, and not simply Hagala due to the vapor; Likewise, see Admur 447:9 who permits

[25] See Pischeiy Halacha p. 27; 157; Hakashrus 1:40; This follows the ruling of those Poskim who rule that Nat Bar Nat is initially forbidden. [See Rama 95:2; Chapter 4 Halacha 1];

Other opinions-Sephardic custom: According to the Sephardic custom, and the Poskim who rule that Nat Bar Nat is initially permitted, the bread remains Pareve even if the oven is Ben Yomo. [See Michaber 95:1]

[26] The reason: As according to most Poskim, even dry foods release vapor. [See Tur 451:15 regarding Charara “And it releases vapor”; Bach 451:13; M”A 451:30; Yad Yehuda 92 Aruch 53; Masas Binyamin 42:58; Chacham Tzvi 20; P”M 451 A.A. 30; Rivash 295; Tzemach Tzedek O.C. 43; Shoel Umeishiv Chamisha 4; Beis Shlomo Y.D. 1:162 and 164; Maharsham; Daas Sofer; Levushei Mordechai; Poskim in Darkei Teshuvah 92:164; Rav Elyashiv in Beis Yitzchak; See Peri Haretz Y.D. 2:14]

[27] It does not initially suffice to Kosher the oven before the 24 hours have passed through turning it on, as most modern oven walls are covered with enamel and require Libun Chamur. [See Admur 494:1 [and 461:1; 451:7 regarding Chametz] that an earthenware oven requires Libun Gamur to be Koshered from meat to milk and our oven interiors are plated with enamel which some Poskim rule have the same status as earthenware [Tuv Taam Vadaas Kama 183] However, if one has a self-cleaning oven, then it suffices for one to perform a self-cleaning cycle to clear it of its Ben Yomo status and bake Pareve bread.

[28] As some Poskim [See Piskeiy Teshuvos 451:49] rule that even enamel is Kosherable with Libun Kal, unlike earthenware, and here regarding Nat Bar Nat one may be lenient like their opinion.

[29] For a general summary of the order of Hafrashas Challah see Hakashrus 14:18-22; Piskeiy Teshuvos 242:11; Spice and Spirit Lubavitch cookbook p. 47-50 [The Halachas in Spice and Spirit were edited by Harav Y.K. Marlow OBM]; Hiskashrus 731

[30] See Hagahos Maimanis end of Hilchos Zeraim on Rambam for an overview of the greatness of this Mitzvah.

[31] The words “Zu Hi Mitzvas Hachallah” is Gemtraia of 613. [Hagahos Maimanis ibid]

[32] Shabbos 32b

[33] Mishneh Shabbos 31b

[34] Hagahos Maimanis end of Zeraim; Yalkut Shimoni Shlach 747

[35] Ben Ish Chaiy 2 Lech Lecha 6

[36] See 324:1 in Halacha we are given a very exact measurement for the amount of flour that one needs to separate Challah from. If you have less then this measurement, you don’t have to separate Challah at all. In other words, the Torah only obligated one to separate Challah if he has a certain amount of flour. What is this amount of flour? 43 eggs and 1:5 of an egg worth of volume of flour. Not only does calculating this volume not sound simple, but the measurement itself is unclear as eggs come in many sizes, so which eggs are you to measure with. Because of the various unclarities involved in this measurement, we therefore practically have today two Shiruim of Challah, one of which you separate without a blessing and one that you separate with a blessing. However, in these measurements itself there are various opinions, and we will summarize those opinions and the practical ruling of today.

[37] While in Shiureiy Torah he records the amount with a blessing is 1666.6 grams in Piskeiy Teshuvos 242:11 and Hakashrus 14:7 they record in the name of Grach Naah 1660 grams. In Piskeiy Teshuvos 457:1 he records 1,670 grams. Seemingly this is a typing error. In “Spice and Spirit” they record 1666.6 grams.

[38] Shiureiy Torah Chapter 3:3-4; This follows the ruling of Rav Avraham Chaim Naah the noted Chabad Posek, author of Shiureiy Torah. So is also the custom of the Sefaradim [see Yechaveh Daas 4:55], and is the vintage custom of Jerusalem Jewry.

Other opinions-Chazon Ish: Some [Chazon Ish] are stringent to require there be 2,250 grams of flour to be allowed to separate with a blessing.

The old Ashkenazi custom: The vintage custom of Ashkenazi Jewry was to separate Challah with a blessing from three Kvartin of flour. [This equals approximately 3 Russian liters which is 1213 grams. If one measures three American pounds, then it is 1363 grams. See Koveitz Zalman Shimon p. 77.] Thus, they would separate with a blessing from this amount and higher. The source for this custom is Harav Yaakov Viyal in his Sefer Mahriy Viyal chapter 153. There he writes that the Shiur of Challah is a vessel that holds three Kvarton of flour. The Shach [324:3] brings down this opinion and writes that this is the custom. The Aruch Hashulchan [324:10] writes that this is the custom amongst all Jewry, and one should not question this ruling.

The Chabad custom: The Tzemach Tzedek [Yoreh Deah chapter 323] writes that “It is known that by us the Shiur of Challah is approximately three Liters [1213 grams]”. This is also recorded to be the practical directive given to people who asked Rav Z.S. Dworkin regarding how much flour is needed to separate Challah with a blessing. [Koveitz Zalman Shimon p. 77] The Ketzos Hashulchan however claims that this Teshuvah printed in the Shut of the Tzemach Tzedek is not truly from the Tzedek Tzedek, as is known that many Teshuvos of other Geonim found their way into the Teshuvos of the Tzemach Tzedek. The Ketzos Hashulchan’s final ruling is as stated above that one is not required to separate from this amount at all and only if there is 1250 grams is it good [but not an obligation] to separate without a blessing. Practically the widespread custom amongst Chabad Chassidim follows the ruling of the Ketzos Hashulchan printed above to separate with a blessing from 1666.6 grams. Nevertheless, there are Chabad Rabbanim who rule that one is to separate from three pounds [1363 grams- Koveitz Zalman Shimon p. 77] or 1230 grams [Hiskashrus 731]

[39] Shiureiy Torah ibid writes one is to separate from 1615.3 without a blessing and less is exempt from separation. However, one who is scrupulous separates from even 1,250 grams without a blessing. In however Piskeiy Teshuvos 242:11 they record that one is to separate without a blessing from 1,200 grams according to all opinions. This is the opinion of the Chazon Ish. In Hakashrus 14:7 they record 1,150 grams. In “Spice and Spirit” they record 1,230. Vetzaruch Iyun.

[40] Rama 322:5

[41] Following the ruling of Rav Avraham Chaim Naah. However according to the Chazon Ish one separates 55 grams.

[42] Some have the custom to add “Min Haisa” [see Taz Yoreh Deah 328:1]

[43] As applies by all Mitzvahs that the blessing is said prior to the Mitzvah. [Chochmas Adam Shaareiy Tzedek Mitzvos Hateluyos Baretz 14:32; So writes Hakashrus 14:20; “Spice and Spirit”] However Piskeiy Teshuvos 242:11 records that one is to only say the blessing after completely separating the Challah from the rest of the dough in order so no part of the Challah remains on the dough if one were to separate it after the blessing. See also Rav Akiva Eiger 328:1 and Piskeiy Teshuvos 457:1

[44] Rav Akiva Eiger 328:1 in name of Raavad, in name of Rav Acha Gaon; Beis Yosef 228; Rashba Chulin p. 94; See Admur 457:18 “All the sanctifications of Teruma and Maaser is through speech…One calls it the name Challah”; Admur 527 KU”A 2 based on Tosefta in Teruma chapter 3 “Although Terumah is sanctified with thought alone, if one plans to call it a name the food is not sanctified until one does so”

Bedieved if was not said: If one did not say “Hareiy Zu Challah” but had in mind for it to become Challah, it is valid. [Admur 4578:18 in parentheses “Or even thought about it alone”; Admur in KU”A ibid; Michaber Y.D. 331:46 regarding teruma; Implication of Setimas Haposkim who do not mention the need to say Harei Zu Challah.]

[45] Hakashrus 14:21

[46] Hagahos Maimanis ibid

[47] The acronym of the name Chana stands for Challah; Nida and Hadlakas Neiros. In merit of her fulfilling these three Mitzvos properly she had her prayers answered and had a son Shmuel which was a prophet and leader onto Israel. Thus, each woman should Daven upon separating Challah to have children that are proper and G-d fearing. [ibid]

[48] See Hakashrus 14:22; Piskeiy Teshuvos 242:11

[49] Yoreh Deah 322:5

[50] If the Challah became revealed in the oven prior to becoming burnt one is to contact a Rav. The answer to this question depends on whether the dough touched the oven floor, walls or oven grates.

[51] Some write the Challah is to be doubly wrapped. This is done for purposes of respect so the Challah not be discarded as regular trash. [See Hakashrus ibid] Others however make no mention of this requirement and as long as it is wrapped once it suffices. [Piskeiy Teshuvos ibid]

[52] See Minchas Yitzchak 4:13

[53] See Koveitz Mibeiys Leivi 3 p. 22; Avnei Yishpeh 3:72; Hakashrus ibid

[54] Michaber Y.D. 57:20; See Admur 435:4; Kuntrus Achron 446:1; 447:1

[55] Admur 447:1; See Shach 57:47 “21 days is a short time”; Michaber ibid “12 months”

[56] Ashel Avraham [Butchach] 260

[57] Piskeiy Teshuvos 243 footnote 88

[58] Elya Raba 167:2 in name of Shlah. The five fingers on each hand which holds the Challahs represent the two Heis of the Tetragrammaton, and the Challahs form a Yud when held. Hnece the Vav of the shape of the Challah complete the Tetragramottan. [Shem Havayah]. [ibid]

[59] Likutei Mahrich in name of Divrei Chaim

[60] Piskeiy Teshuvos 583 footnote 46; 242 footnote 105; Oatzar Minhagei Chabad 129

[61] Brought in Piskeiy Teshuvos 583 footnote 46

[62] P”M 242 M”Z 1; See Yoreh Deah 97:1; “A Semicha Aid for the Laws of Basar Bechalav” Chapter 97

[63] Taz Yoreh Deah 178:7; Chasam Sofer in his glosses on 242

[64] This is similar to the showbread which was placed directly on the table after it was baked. [Divrei Yisrael 2 p. 30]

[65] Likueti Mahrich

[66] Piskeiy Teshuvos 242:11

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