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When should one make a bracha when separating "challah" from a dough? I'm assuming like almost all mitzvas it's to be done "before" the mitzvah. One has the dough prepared in front of them, they make the bracha, then remove a small piece of the dough, say "this is challah, and set it aside.

However I saw a video that shows the Belzer Rebbetzin (wife of the current Belzer Rebbe) removing a small portion of the dough in front of her, placing it into a bag, covering the dough and then holding it above the covered dough, then with great enthusiasm makes the bracha (holding the small portion) and ends off with "this is challah". Is she able to make the bracha after already separating it because she didn't pronounce that it was challah yet? I'm assuming being the wife of the Belzer Rebbe and daughter of the previous Vitzhnitzer Rebbe of Bnei Brak that she would know how to properly take challah and when to make the bracha. Is this an okay way to do this mitzvah? Is there a more preferred way (as mentioned that the bracha be made before separating anything)?

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    This might come across as a personal "attack" on a specific person. You might want to reword it. – aBochur Apr 15 '18 at 2:10
  • @aBochur I don't quite read it that way, but, I agree that the last 3 1/2 lines should probably be deleted. It doesn't seem too relevant to the question. – DanF Apr 15 '18 at 3:51
  • If you don't intend to declare the piece holy when breaking it off, then the Mitzva hasn't been done yet. I don't know why one would prefer to break off a piece and then later declare it Challah vs just declaring it when breaking it off. Either way seems 100% fine. – Double AA Apr 15 '18 at 14:13
  • (Talmud Berachot and Pesachim)כל המצוות מברכין עליהן עובר לעשייתן חוץ מטבילת הגר – chacham Nisan Oct 14 '18 at 15:43
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The Kitzur Shulchan Aruch in סימן לה - הלכות חלה says to first make the bracha and then to separate the Challa:

סעיף א': עִסָּה מֵחֲמֵשֶׁת מִינֵי דָּגָן חַיֶּבֶת בְּחַלָּה. קֹדֶם שֶׁמַּפְרִישִׁין הַחַלָּה מְבָרְכִין, בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ה' אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם אֲשֶׁר קִדְּשָׁנוּ בְּמִצְוֹתָיו וְצִוָנוּ לְהַפְרִישׁ חַלָּה. וְנוֹטְלִין כַּזַּיִת מִן הָעִסָּה וְשׂוֹרְפִין אוֹתָהּ בָּאֵשׁ. וְהַמִּנְהָג לְשָׂרְפָהּ בַּתַנוּר שֶׁיֹּאפוּ שָׁם אֶת הַלֶּחֶם. ‏

But I cannot find a source for that in הלכות חלה in Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Deah.

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  • He doesn't specify declaring it Challah. Perhaps declaring is what he means by "separating". (Indeed breaking a dough into pieces is of no inherent Halakhic significance, though breaking off a piece with intent that it be Holy may be equivalent to an explicit declaration.) – Double AA Apr 15 '18 at 14:08
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The Shulchan Aruch in Yoreh Deah siman 328 says the time to make the bracha is when separating the challa from the dough.

בשעה שיפריש חלה יברך אשר קדשנו במצותיו וצונו להפריש תרומה (או להפריש חלה) (טור)

We therefore need to know, when should one separate the challa?

The Shulchan Aruch in siman 327 says to do that when all the flour and water is mixed. He goes on to say a woman could and should stipulate when mixing the dough and separating the challa that the amount separated should count toward all dough to be mixed in the batch. The burning however, should not be done until after all the dough is mixed.

אימתי מפרישין חלה כשיתן המים ויערב הקמח במים והוא שלא ישאר שם בעריבה קמח שלא נתערב במים שיעור עומר ואם אמר ה"ז חלה על העיסה ועל השאור ועל הקמח שנשתייר ולכשתעשה כולה עיסה אחת תתקדש זו שבידי לשם חלה ה"ז מותר וכן אם מתנה שתחול החלה אף על הקמח שיתערב אח"כ בשעת עריכה וטוב ללמד לנשים להתנות כן (אם יש לחוש שיתערבו שיעור חלה אח"כ) (ב"י בשם סמ"ג) וצריך ליזהר שלא לשרוף החלה עד אחר כל העריכה:

But in the next siff he says it became better to wait to separate until all the dough is mixed to the extent it is one body of dough.

האידנא טוב להמתין מלהפריש חלה עד אחר גמר לישה שתיעשה כל העיסה גוף א':

Common practice nowadays which is to wait until after the dough rises to separate challa and make the bracha seems to be inconsistent with the halacha in the Shulchan Aruch. It is still allowed to make the blessing then, but it seems like there is no benefit in pushing off this mitzvah and the bracha.

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  • While this is very interesting, it doesn't seem to be addressing the question about saying it before or after physically separating the little piece from the larger dough – Double AA May 5 at 1:42

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