I'm probably missing something rather simple but a cursory check has not given me a suitable answer -- when someone bakes challah and takes that chunk out to be put aside for a kohen, because the local kohens are all tamei, the challah must be burned. I know that there are different traditions and halachot about how much it has to be burned, covered or not etc, but my concern is that afterwards, the challah is either thrown out or buried. Isn't this going against bal tashchit?


2 Answers 2


"Bal tashchis" is a prohibition on destroying something for which there is potential use. Destroying something that has no use is not in violation of that prohibition. Because there is no use for separated chala (because, as you note, there's no one around these days who can eat it), one may destroy it. Moreover, one can separate the chala even though it will wind up destroyed, because fulfillment of a mitzva is a valid reason for destroying something: it does not violate "bal tashchis".

Source: This is common knowledge of the prohibition of "bal tashchis". One example source is the Chinuch (529), who writes (in my own loose translation) "...but certainly it's permissible to cut them [=fruit trees] if he finds a purpose in doing so... and any non-fruit tree, [the rabbis] said, one may cut even if he doesn't need it...". As an example of the permissibility of destroying something for a purpose, Mishna B'rura 560:9 writes that it's permissible to break a cup at a wedding "since they do so as a hint to a lesson, so people place it in their hearts".

  • A tip of the hat to torah.org/advanced/weekly-halacha/5760/behaaloscha.html for pointing me to the Mishna B'rura. See that page for more citations (including a Sh'vus Yaakov).
    – msh210
    May 13, 2012 at 16:48
  • there is an opinion which says "Challah that is separated in Eretz Yisroel may not be eaten be a kohain who is tamei tum’as meis. In chutz la’aretz, only a kohain who has a tumah hayotzei migufo is forbidden from eating challah. Therefore, if a kohain was a ba’al keri and he went to the mikvah he may eat chalas chutz la’aretz even though he is tamei tum’as meis. The Rema (Orach Chayim 457:2) records that nevertheless some have the minhag not to give challah to kohanim b’zman ha’zeh." It is a minhag not to use it? Potential exists? www.oukosher.org/index.php/common/article/8981 footnote 11
    – rosends
    May 13, 2012 at 16:49
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    @Dan, why don't you ask that as a separate question? Looks like a good one.
    – msh210
    May 13, 2012 at 16:52
  • Why doesn't the separator just give it to a cohen follower of Maran haShulchan Aruch? May 13, 2012 at 18:00
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    Also, isn't it Tamei when the Tamei person separates it, and therefore the Kohen couldn't eat it anyway?
    – Menachem
    May 13, 2012 at 18:35

Doing something the Torah tells one to do can never be a violation of the Torah.

Destroying chometz which one finds on pesach isn't baal tashchis either, since if the Torah says you can't use it or have benefit from it then by definition the prohibition of baal tashchis is removed.

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    Is doing Milah on Tzaraat a violation of the Torah?
    – Double AA
    May 13, 2012 at 20:41
  • The Torah doesn't say anywhere that you must burn challah. It's the minority opinion of the rosh, which some Jews accepted. -1 If I could.
    – Hahu Gavra
    May 14, 2012 at 23:06
  • @HahuGavra Who said the case was happening in the Diaspora?
    – Double AA
    Nov 19, 2013 at 5:37

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