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Hafrashas Challah

By Rabbi Dovid Cohen, Administrative Rabbinic Coordinator

Q. Do I have to be mafrish challah when I make pizza?  How about gluten-free challah?

A basic rule is that hafrashas challah is required if you bake something whose bracha is hamotzi or whose bracha would be hamotzi if you ate enough of it.  Accordingly, hafrashas challah is required for pizza since there is no question that if one eats enough pizza, they must recite hamotzi.  However, this only applies if you create pizza from scratch – meaning, from flour and water (or from a powdered pizza “mix”).  In that case, it was a Jewish person who kneaded the dough (you!) and, therefore, that dough requires hafrashas challah.  But if you bought a ready-made dough from the store, then the person baking at home does not have to be mafrish challah; either the dough was made at a Jewish-owned company and the hashgachah made sure that they were mafrish challah, or it was made at a non-Jewish company in which case no hafrashah is required.

One more caveat is that hafrashas challah is only required if a person has a specific amount of flour, known as the “shiur challah”.  For regular flour, it is generally accepted that one should be mafrish challah if there is at least 2.5 pounds of flour and be mafrish with a bracha if there is at least 4.7 pounds of flour.

The above rules apply to gluten-free but with somewhat of a twist.  One way to make gluten-free challah is to make a bread-like product without any of the five primary grains (wheat, rye, spelt, oats, and barley).  It might include rice, tapioca, corn starch, or other ingredients, but would have no wheat, oats, or other of the five grains.  Hamotzi can never be recited on a food that doesn’t have one of the five grains, and therefore it is clear that there is no hafrashas challah for this type of gluten-free challah.  Two other ways to make gluten-free challah are with gluten-free oats or with gluten-free wheat flour (a.k.a. Molino flour).  In both of these cases, the bracha on the finished challah is hamotzi, and therefore from that perspective hafrashas challah is required.

But determining the shiur challah is a bit different for these items.  Firstly, even if the base of the challah is gluten-free oats or gluten-free wheat flour, there are often other grains mixed in to help with the dough’s consistency.  In general, those added grains do not count towards the shiur challah, and one must, therefore, calculate whether there is a shiur challah of the oats or wheat.  Furthermore, the shiur challah is essentially a volumetric amount, and the amount required in pounds differs from grain to grain.  So, whereas the amounts given above are accurate for regular white wheat flour, the amounts required for oats are 1.8 pounds (hafrashah without a bracha) and 3.5 pounds (with a bracha).  [For rye the respective amounts are 2 pounds and 3.8 pounds.]

In this context it is worth noting that there is a difference of opinion regarding the shiur challah for whole wheat flour.  Whole wheat flour includes the bran which is removed to create “white” flour.  If it was left in the flour, it surely counts towards the shiur challah, but Shulchan Aruch rules that if it is added to white flour then it does not count.  In fact, nowadays it is very common for flour mills to remove the bran from all of their flour, and then add some back in when they want to produce whole wheat flour.  According to the simple reading of Shulchan Aruch this would mean that this bran doesn’t count toward the shiur challah, and hafrashah would only happen if there was about 14% more flour than the numbers given above.  Others disagree and say that since this is the standard way to make whole wheat flour nowadays, the bran does count towards the shiur.

This article first appeared in the Let’s Talk Kashrus column, Yated Ne’eman, March 10, 2023.