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Thought for the Day: Challah as תרומה... With a Twist

Now that you know much more about wheat and flour than you ever cared to know, here's one reaons that knowledge is important.  Rye bread is actually made from a mixture of rye and wheat flours (1:2.5 in one recipe I saw).  (And therefore?  I hear you wondering...)  Rye and wheat are not generally harvested at the same time of year; moreover, harvests are earlier in the southern part of the country (where it gets warmer sooner) than the north.  (Sigh... and therefore?)  Well, then, a bakery could very well end up making a rye bread dough that is about 30% rye from last year and 70% what from this year.  (Please have mercy... and therefore what, for crying out loud?)

So here's what: Challah is a kind of תרומה.  When you have stuff that requires תרומה to be taken, it is considered a forbidden food until you actually separate a small portion as תרומה.  That small portion of תרומה can only be eaten by a Cohein (though we don't do that now-a-days; don't worry about that now).  The rest of the food is now permitted to all of us.  You don't need to take a piece of every apple, obviously; you just take a bit from a pile of apples.  You can even take a small portion of תרומה on one pile of apples and have that work for another pile of apples -- provided, however, that both piles are from the same year.  (Ah... light is dawning... rye and wheat are from different years...)

Challah is weird, though, because the requirement of challah is on dough, and even then only if you have enough dough.  So... let's say you have exactly a shiur (call it 5 lbs, just for argument's sake) of rye bread dough.  On the one hand, we could say that we only have 1.5 lbs of rye and 3.5 lbs of wheat -- both below the shiur of challah -- so we don't need to take challah at all.  On the other hand, we have 5 lbs of dough -- which is the requisite shiur -- so challah needs to be taken, but now I have the issue of flours from two different years.  If it is, then I have two possible solutions: (1) I could make a shiur of rye dough and another shiur or wheat dough and take challah from each of those on the appropriate parts of my original dough.  (2) If the is rye בטול/nullified in the wheat, I can take challah from my dough?

Surprise!  It's a machlokes Rashi and Tosefos.  At issue is how does ביטול actually work?  Rashi says that once something is ביטול, it has completely lost its own identity.  According to Rashi, then, it seems that we have 5 lbs of wheat dough.  According to Tosefos, something that is ביטול no longer counts, but it doesn't lose its identity.  According to Tosefos, then, if you had a dough with 5 lbs of wheat flour and 4 lbs of rye (for our purposes we only need a majority), then you could take challah.  In our case, though, the rye is certainly בטול, but now we only have 3.5 lbs of dough -- below the shiur, so the only option you have is the make the other doughs [solution (1), above].  Isn't that cool?

What to do?  Good question.

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