“Of the first of your dough you shall set apart a loaf (challah) for a gift.” (Numbers 15:20)
Among the dietary laws contained in the Torah, the Torah commands the separation of a portion of one’s dough as challah, as a gift for the Kohen (priest), before consuming the remainder of the dough. Let us examine more deeply the Torah perspective of eating, and particularly, separating portions before eating.
Eating sustains the life of the body, maintaining the attachment between body and soul. Should one cease eating for long enough, body and soul separate from one another. In other words, death results from prolonged starvation. But how does physical eating affect a spiritual entity such as the soul such that it sustains this attachment?
Our Sages have taught that there is NO physical entity that does not have a spiritual entity sustaining it (Bereishis Rabah 10:7). Were it not for the spiritual root of the physical universe, that physicality would have no existence. Therefore, while the physical element of our food feeds the body, its attachment to a spiritual source sustains the body’s attachment to the soul.
When we set apart a portion of dough, we “raise it up,” raising its spiritual quality, and by extension, we refine even the original portion from which we take challah in its spiritual quality.
Likewise, God “raised up” a portion of the earth as an elevated portion in the creation of Man. And when we elevate ourselves, by extension, we elevate the entire world with us.
May we merit to internalize the lesson of the challah, and fulfill our destiny to elevate ourselves and the rest of Creation.
Based on Shla”h, Parshas Sh’lach.
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