Mishnat Hashavua: Hallah 3:5

How do partnerships with non-Jews affect our religious obligations?

If a non-Jew hired a Jew to make him dough, [the Jew] is exempt from Hallah [i.e., the obligation to separate one twenty-fourth of the dough as a gift to the priest]. If [the non-Jew] gave the Jew dough as a gift, if it has not already been made into a loaf, then the Jew must separate Hallah. If it had already been formed into a loaf, then it is exempt. [A Jew] who makes dough with a non-Jew, if the Jew’s portion is less than the minimum that requires Hallah, then the dough is exempt from Hallah.

Comments

According to Numbers chapter 15, verse 20, a portion of dough must be given as a gift to the priest. This obligation is, however, limited to certain circumstances. Only dough from one of the five grains (wheat, barley, spelt, oats, or rye), in volume exceeding one kav, and that belongs to a Jew is liable for this tax. Today we continue to “take Hallah” when making bread by pulling off a small piece and saying the blessing “vitzivanu l’hafrish Hallah” (who commanded us to separate Hallah). Since food dedicated to the priest cannot simply be eaten, it is customary to burn it in the oven. Our Mishnah explores circumstances in which it is debatable whether Hallah should be taken.

Questions

  1. What does this Mishnah teach about relations between Jews and non-Jews in the Rabbinic period?
  2. Partnerships with non-Jews could be used to evade legal obligations such as taking Hallah. Can you think of another example in which a partnership with non-Jews can circumvent a law? Is this a good thing?
  3. Should the non-Jew be compensated for the service of helping Jews avoid their own laws?