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Challah 2:1:

פֵּרוֹת חוּצָה לָאָרֶץ שֶׁנִּכְנְסוּ לָאָרֶץ, חַיָּבִים בַּחַלָּה.‏

Produce [grown] outside the land [of Israel] that came into the land is subject to challah.

What is the nature of this obligation? Is it biblical or rabbinic?

The motivation for asking this question is Rambam Hilchot Terumot 1:22:

פֵּרוֹת חוּצָה לָאָרֶץ שֶׁנִּכְנְסוּ לָאָרֶץ חַיָּבִין בְּחַלָּה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר שָׁמָּה. שָׁמָּה אַתֶּם חַיָּבִין בֵּין בְּפֵרוֹת הָאָרֶץ בֵּין בְּפֵרוֹת חוּצָה לָאָרֶץ. וְאִם נִקְבְּעוּ לְמַעֲשֵׂר בְּיַד יִשְׂרָאֵל אַחַר שֶׁנִּכְנְסוּ לָאָרֶץ חַיָּבִין בְּמַעַשְׂרוֹת מִדִּבְרֵיהֶם:‏

Produce [grown] outside the land [of Israel] that came into the land is subject to challah, as it is written "there". 'There' you are obligated, whether the produce is [grown] in the land or outside the land. And if it became obligated in ma'aser through the actions of a Jew after it came into the land, it is subject to ma'aser rabbinically.

One could infer from the words of Rambam that the obligation of ma'aser on produce grown in the Diaspora and completed in Israel is rabbinic, as opposed to challah which would be a biblical obligation in this case.

Is this a valid inference? If so, what is the reason to differentiate between challah and ma'aser?

  • Remember Challah is also taken from wheat grown by non Jews if it was owned by Jews when kneaded. That should point you in the right direction – Double AA Sep 1 at 11:35
  • @DoubleAA As opposed to ma’aser from produce grown by non-Jews purchased prior to meiruach? – Joel K Sep 1 at 12:03
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Footnotes 92 and 93 to Rambam Hilchos Terumah 1:22 explain the halacha. Note that the difference is based on what is involved in the completion of the work.

22 When produce from Eretz Yisrael is taken to the Diaspora, it is exempt from the obligations of challah, the terumot, and the tithes, [for one of the prooftexts requiring the separation of these gifts, Numbers 15:18]91states: "[the land] to which I am bringing you." [Implied is that] these obligations exist there alone. In the Diaspora, one is exempt.92 If [the produce] was taken to Syria, one is obligated by Rabbinic decree.

Conversely, we are obligated [to separate] challah from produce from the Diaspora that was brought into Eretz Yisrael, as [suggested by the phrase] "to which." [Implied is that] one is liable [to make these gifts] there, whether the produce is from Eretz Yisrael or the Diaspora. If the obligation [to separate challah or the tithes] was established [because of the actions] of a Jew after the produce entered Eretz Yisrael, there is an obligation of Rabbinic origin to separate the tithes.93

92. The Ra'avad differs and maintains that the exemption from the obligation to tithe applies only according to Scriptural Law. According to Rabbinic Law, all authorities agree that one is obligated, for this produce is comparable to that of Ammon and Moav. The Radbaz does not accept this perspective, stating that there is no source which maintains that a Rabbinic obligation exists. The Radbaz does, however, qualify the Rambam's ruling, explaining that it applies only when the work that makes the produce obligated to be tithed is completed in the Diaspora. If this work is completed in Eretz Yisrael, the obligation to separate the tithes has already been incurred and they must be separated even if the produce was later taken to the Diaspora. For this reason, in most instances, terumah and tithes must be separated from produce that is grown in Eretz Yisrael in the present age and later exported to the Diaspora. This, however, applies to fruits only, not vegetables as stated in Chapter 2, Halachah 6.

93. The Kessef Mishneh questions why the obligation to separate the tithes is only of Rabbinic origin. Since the concept is based on the exegesis of the same Biblical term as mentioned above, if the work that made the produce obligated to be tithed was performed in Eretz Yisrael, why is the obligation not Scriptural in origin? The Kessef Mishneh answers that since the prooftext mentions "the bread of the land," one can conclude that the obligation applies only to produce grown in the Holy Land itself. Alternatively, the Kessef Mishneh suggests that indeed if the work that makes the produce obligated to be tithed is completed only in Eretz Yisrael, the obligation is indeed Scriptural in origin. This ruling is quoted by the Siftei Cohen 331:22.

  • Looking up the Kesef Mishnah quoted in your footnote 93 inside, it seems like his question is based on the inference I presented, but his two answers actually say that challah and ma'aser essentially have the same rule. – Joel K Sep 1 at 14:03
  • And his two approaches differ as to whether produce brought into Israel before kneading is biblically or rabinically subject to challah. – Joel K Sep 1 at 14:05

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