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What is the Reason? Challah Print E-mail
What Is The Reason

What is the reason behind the Mitzvah of Hafrashat Challah? (In Temple times, a part of the dough when baking was separated and given to the Kohanim, Temple Priests. Today, we burn the small selection of dough) What are the Kavanot, or, what shall I have in mind, when fulfilling this Mitzvah? S.

I hope, with God’s help’ to address the Mitzvah of Challah in the 613 Concepts #273. However, I would like to add a few more basic concepts about the Mitzvah of Challah: (The first two can be found on the General Forum)

1) We derive the measure of Challah, the dough we separate, based on the Manna that fell in the desert. (See Rashi Numbers 15: 19) Challah is our way of acknowledging the miracle of Manna and all it represented. The Manna fell every day to remind us each day that all our sustenance comes from God. When we separate Challah we are actively acknowledging God as the ultimate sustainer.

2) The Manna was both a physical and spiritual food. The Manna was a daily reminder of God as sustainer. The Torah could be given only to people who were living on this perfect food. The Manna was 100% nutritious; all was absorbed and none was wasted. It is the perfect combination of physical and spiritual. as is a human being. We are the perfect combination of the physical, our bodies, with the spiritual, our souls. The Midrash actually describes a human being as the Challah of creation. (Bereishit Rabbah 17:13, and Bamidbar Rabbah 17:2) Challah represents the level of creation that is called “Murkav”, or, a mixture. This Mitzvah is a celebration of the ability of the physical and spiritual to combine and create something special.

3) When Moses was teaching the generation that was about to enter Israel about the Manna, he said, “In order to make you know that not by bread alone does man live, rather by everything that emanates from the mouth of God does man live.” (Deuteronomy 8:3) The Ari HaKadosh explains that the sustenance we derive from bread does not derive from the bread but from the word of God that gives existence to the bread. We activate the word of God in all the sustenance of our homes when we fulfill this commandment. (See Shem MeShmuel, Shelach, 5677)

4) This Mitzvah was activated immediately upon Israel’s entry into Israel, even before they captured and settled the land, unlike every other commandment that was not activated until the people settled the land. This is because all of Israel accepted mutual responsibility immediately upon entering the land. Individuals became part of a greater whole, which is symbolized by the Challah, the dough which changes from water and flour into a new entity. (Ibid. Volume 5, Collected Sayings, Shelach) One should keep in mind our mutual responsibility when fulfilling this Mitzvah/Concept.

What is the reason for the Kaddish? Is it for the person who died, or to benefit the Mourner? TS

The Kaddish deserves an entire essay. However, I offer some basic thoughts:

Kaddish is recited for the deceased. Kaddish is recited for the mourner's sake. Kaddish is also recited for the benefit of everyone listening and responding. There are many levels to the Kaddish.

When Jacob responded to his children, "May His great name be blessed forever," he sanctified the name of God, Kiddush Shem Shamayim, and the angels composed the third blessing of the Silent Prayer, the blessing of Sanctity. The Aramaic translation of Jacob's words is the "Yehai shemai rabbah," of Kaddish. (Early sources actually refer to the Kaddish as the "Yehei shemai rabbah." The first mention of this prayer as Kaddish is in Masechet Sofrim 16:12) All who participate in the Kaddish can fulfill the Mitzvah/Concept #5, of the Sanctification of God's name.

When the mourner recites the phrase, " in the world He created according to His will," he is acknowledging God's justice, the process known as Tziduk HaDin. The mourner is fulfilling the commandment of Honoring Parents even after their death. (Bet Yosef, Yoreh Dei'ah 376, Zohar, Volume 3, 115b, Tractate Semachot, Chapter 6) The mourner is lamenting the loss of the opportunity to perform the Mitzvah for a live person.

The mourner is stating that with the absence of the deceased the Presence of God has been diminished; the deceased brought a unique aspect of God's light to the world. The Kaddish is a prayer for the restoration of all the light the deceased added to the world. (S.Y. Agnon, The Days of Awe)

The act of Sanctification, the declaration of God's Justice, and the prayer for God's name to expand in creation all are credited to the deceased, and serves to soften any harsh judgments. (Sifrei; Deuteronomy 21:8, TBKetubot 103a, Tanchuma; Ha'azinu 1).

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