This week’s parsha discusses the mitzvah to separate a portion of one’s dough from one’s challah to give to the Kohanim. Bnai Israel was obligated to follow this mitzvah in Israel, when a majority of Jews resided there. However, the Rabbis instituted that the mitzvah of separating a piece of dough from one’s challah even outside of Israel so that the Jewish people would not forget this law. Nowadays, we have a custom to set aside a kezayit- the size of a matchbox –and burn it. Additionally, there is a certain bracha- blessing- one should say after separating the challah.
This mitzvah was ordained specifically for the women (although men can still partake in this mitzvah) in order to atone for the sin of the first woman, Chava. Adam was created completely pure and had no evil desires, thereby, he was called ‘the pure challah of the world.’ When Chava enticed Adam to sin, he lost his purity and he and his future descendents were cursed with a life of physical desires. By splitting the challah, we symbolically bring back the purity Adam had lost. When a woman separates the challah, essentially, she is rectifying Chava’s sin.
From observing this mitzvah, material wealth is brought to one’s home; however, famine is brought when neglected. Additionally, we should all strive to reconnect back to Adam’s initial purity, simply by separating one’s challah. The answer is simple; the hope is that it is practiced.