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ḤALLAH:

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The priest's share of the dough. The Biblical law in the case of ḥallah (Num. xv. 17-21; comp. Neh. x. 38), as in the case of the heave-offering ("terumah"; Num. xviii. 11), is indefinite. It enjoins the separation of the ḥallah "from the first of your dough," but does not specify how much dough there should be, or what proportion of the dough should go to the priest. The Rabbis, however, made the law more explicit by limiting it. According to their definition the dough, in order to be subject to the law of ḥallah, must consist of at least one omer (1⅘ cabs, or enough to fill a vessel 10 x 10 x 3 1/9 inches in size; See Weights and Measures) of flour (Ḥal. ii. 5; comp. 'Eduy. i. 2), the portion due to the priest being 1/24 of the dough of a private household and 1/48 of that of a baker ('Eduy. i. 7). The priest's share was taken from the dough and not from the flour (comp. Yer. Ḥal. iii. 1).

Obligation on Owner.

The obligation rested upon the person to whom the dough belonged, and not upon the person who kneaded it. Hence if the dough belonged to a non-Jew, and it was prepared by a Jew, no portion of it went to the priest, even if the non-Jew afterward presented it to the Jew. A Jew, however, was obliged to separate ḥallah from his dough even when it was prepared by a non-Jew (Ḥal. iii. 5). Dough prepared as food for animals was not subject to this obligation, unless it was also partaken of bymen (Ḥal. i. 8). The priest's portion was taken only from dough made from the flour of one of these five kinds of cereal: wheat, barley, spelt, oats, and rye (Ḥal. i. 1). Dough made from the flour of rice, millet, or peas was excepted. The dough must have been prepared for the baking of bread, but not for pastry or cakes of any kind (Ḥal. i. 4). If the separation of the ḥallah from the dough had been forgotten, it could be made after the bread was baked (Sifre to Num. xv. 21).

The Biblical expression "when you eat of the bread of the land" clearly indicates that the law of ḥallah applies only to Palestine; but, in order that this institution should not be forgotten in Israel, the Rabbis ordained that it should also be observed beyond Palestine and for all time. Since, however, it can no longer be observed as a priestly offering, because everything now is in a state of impurity, the portion taken from the dough is thrown into the fire and need not be proportionate to the amount of the dough; the obligation can be discharged with the smallest portion (Ḥal. iv. 8-11). When the dough is thrown into the fire a blessing should be pronounced. At present the laws pertaining to the separation of ḥallah are very lenient, both with regard to the separation and with regard to the holiness attached to it (Maimonides, "Yad," Bikkurim, v.-viii.; Shulḥan 'Aruḳ, Yoreh De'ah, 322-330). See Priestly Code; for ḥallah as sacrifice See Sacrifice; Thank-Offering.

Bibliography:
  • Saalschütz, Das Mosaische Recht, ch. xli., note 441, Berlin, 1853.
E. C. J. H. G.
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