December 28, 2020

Pesachim 37

When is bread not bread? This is, in effect, the question addressed in today’s daf (Pesachim 37) while considering which types of doughs require that ‘Challah’ be taken (nb. Challah is a ‘Terumah’ – a donation – taken from dough that has been prepared for bread as commanded in Bemidbar 15:17-21. It is required when making a quantity of bread comparable to the size of the daily portion of manna, and it was obligated from Bnei Yisrael when they entered the land of Israel at which time God ceased giving them a daily portion of manna. This was to help remind them that even what they made with their own hands was, ultimately, from God).
In seeking to answer this question, the Gemara – while citing from Mishna Challah – explains that the definition of bread is determined both by the ingredients of the dough, and by the way in which that dough is heated, and from a simple reading of the Gemara not only are sweet doughs exempt from the need for Challah to be taken, but so too are regular doughs that are fried (as opposed to being baked).
However, aside from considering ‘what’ bread is, a further question addressed by the commentaries is ‘when’ this determination occurs. For example, according to Rabbeinu Tam, bread-like dough becomes obliged for challah once it is kneaded even if it will later on be fried. Contrasting this, most other commentaries are of the opinion that since such dough has been made with the express intention of being fried, it is not considered as bread and Challah need not be taken (although, out of respect for this minority opinion, the general custom is to take Challah even from dough that is to be fried, eg. for doughnuts, but without making a bracha).
Reflecting on these halachot it made me think of our current situation. Just like bread is normally baked, and is not considered to be bread when put in a different setting eg. when fried, so too, most of us generally mix home time with outside-of-home time, which means that ‘lockdown’ – especially our third lockdown which Israel has just entered – is both hard (emotionally, psychologically, economically) and not ‘normal’. Simply put, many people feel that they are like bread which is not being baked in the usual way, and just like this isn’t fully bread, they feel that they are not fully themselves.
Of course, each person responds differently to the situation, and just as fried dough can be sweet, for some people, more time at home can be good for them. Yet there are others for whom it is undoubtedly very difficult. Given this, if you would like to book in some time for me for some spiritual coaching, please send me a message or visit If you are looking for a professional therapist, I am very happy to make some recommendations. And if you are just in need of some chizuk (strengthening/lifting/encouragement), simply send me a whatsapp (052-603-0962) or private message with the word ‘Chizuk’ and I’ll get back to you asap.
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