I am talking about halachic challah -- the portion taken for the offering. I was taught several times that these days, what to do with it is to burn it to a char in the oven. I also learned that this should be done separately from other foods (source: Halacha section of the Bais Yaakov Cookbook). This is actually a big challenge erev Shabbos, when one is short on time and has a lot of food to cook.

1) Is it true that mitzvah challah must be put in the oven alone?

2) If so, why?

I had thought that the reason for this was that the challah is treyf, but on second thought, that wouldn't make much sense (since we cover it completely anyway; plus, if there were in fact a problem of trefus, cooking it without other foods in the oven wouldn't help much for the kashrus of the kitchen--although there may be some nuance in that matter, possibly related to steam). But a rabbi at my seminary mentioned that it actually may be because we can't derive benefit from the challah, and if we kept it in the oven with other foods, it could be fuel for their cooking.

I understand how that could be true if challah were put in a fire with other foods being cooked above. But how could it possibly be true in an oven? If it couldn't, and that's not true, then what is the explanation for why the challah must be in the oven alone?

  • If you're busy on Friday then likely you could leave it to burn on Sunday, or give it to a Kohen for him to bother to burn. – Double AA Jul 21 '17 at 2:36
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    There's two mitzvot: to separate and to give it to a Kohen, though for whatever reason many don't do the latter one nowadays so they have to find some other way to get rid of it. The main issue with not dealing with it right away is so as not to accidentally eat it. – Double AA Jul 21 '17 at 3:01
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    @loewian as stated probably not, but our kohanim are probably better than that. not eating challah in the diaspora nowadays is only a chumra of some communities. But I think this isn't the right place to delve more deeply into that – Double AA Jul 21 '17 at 4:21
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    Not putting it out there as an official answer, but I've heard two different opinions about this from different Rabbeim of mine. One said we may burn the challa in the oven with other food as the reiach, scent, is not something we are concerned about with this issur. Another Rebbi of mine said not to burn it with other food in the oven because we are worried about the reiach. Most other rabbis I know of are stringent in this regard as well. Don't forget to ask your rabbi for his opinion:) – user6591 Jul 21 '17 at 14:09
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    @SAH In principle, if you give it to a non-Kohen, that wouldn't hurt, just that non-Kohen would have then have to still give it to a Kohen. So in principle, giving it to a Safek Kohen is better than not giving at all since at least you Safek did the Mitzva. So that wouldn't be enough to eliminate the obligation. But yes there are Poskim nowadays who don't recommend giving to a Kohen for some combination of the reasons mentioned above (and/or combined with a "Minhag" to not give dating from times/places when those reasons may have applied) – Double AA Jul 21 '17 at 18:45

Challah is one of the matnas kehuna - gifts given to the Kohanim in recognition of their holy, dedicated service; while this is a mitzvah d'oraysa within the borders of Eretz Yisrael (considered to be a mitzvah talui ba'aretz) there is a rabbinic extension to chutz l'aretz as well. Additionally, kohanim as well as foodstuffs are assumed to be tamei nowadays which is why we burn the challah entirely rather than giving it to the Kohen (Rambam Hilchos Yom Tov 3:8).

interestingly, the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch (35:1) actually records the practice of destroying the challah in the same oven that the bread is baking! I have to check again to see if that meaas covered or uncovered.

However, the concern is that even while destroying the challah there will be some transfer of taste from the separated challah dough to the other foods in the oven. hence, the suggestion is to be cautious and either burn it alone in the oven entirely or to cover it up very well and leave it in there long enough for it to be rendered completely inedible.

A practical suggestion: if you own a toaster oven, double wrap your lump of dough and place it in there at the highest setting until it's destroyed. This will free you from logistical issues of using your oven to prepare other foods while discharging your challah obligation.

  • "kohanim as well as foodstuffs are assumed to be tamei nowadays which is why we burn the challah entirely rather than giving it to the Kohen (Rambam Hilchos Yom Tov 3:8)" That's only talking about in Israel. Tamei Kohanim can eat Tamei Challah outside of Israel (and in the case in the Rambam it'd even be permitted to cook it for him) – Double AA Jul 21 '17 at 16:59
  • @ShmuelBrown Thanks for this answer. It's probably way over my head but would still be interested in an explanation of why transferring taste to the oven is not a problem. Is it something like n"t bar n"t? But what about the steam aspect, and the fact that the challah is probably pagum (incidentally, wouldn't that make it fine with other foods)? – SAH Jul 21 '17 at 17:10
  • @ShmuelBrown you definitely don't have to do all this work btw. Just putting the comment up in case the hive wants to chime in – SAH Jul 21 '17 at 17:12
  • @DoubleAA thanks for your qualifier, however, see here: sefaria.org/… – Shmuel Brown Jul 21 '17 at 17:29
  • that's one record about a late controversial custom in certain communities. certainly no excuse to misrepresent the basic halakha. – Double AA Jul 21 '17 at 17:32

According to the OUKosher.org website if the Challa is completely wrapped up one may bake other items in the same oven. This is based on Shach (Yoreh Deah 108:1) who quotes from the Issur V’heter that one may bake bread in the oven while the challah (even uncovered) is burning. However, the Aruch Ha’shulchan (108:9) and others disagree and feel that the oven should not be used at all if the challah is uncovered.

May I use my oven while the Challah is burning? If the challah is completely wrapped up, one may bake other items in the oven while the challah is burning. However, if the challah is uncovered, it is best to avoid baking anything else in the oven while the challah is burning. If one accidentally did use the oven while the challah was burning, one may eat the food.

  • Thanks so much. Do you know the reason that challah should ideally be burnt alone? It sounds like it's from kashrus but I'm not sure – SAH Jul 21 '17 at 16:45

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