In this week’s Parsha after presenting the sad incident regarding the slander of the spies etc., the Torah goes on to elaborate the details regarding the sacrifices to be offered when the Jews will eventually enter the Holy Land.
The Parshah then goes into the laws of tithing the dough which is called “Challah”.
The Torah requires a person who makes a batch of dough made from a weight of flour equivalent to at least 43 and 1/5 eggs to remove this tithe.
According to Torah law there is no fixed amount to this tithe (the Sages however eventually gave a measurement: for a homemaker 1/24 of the batch, and for a baker 1/48).
A few questions pop up from all this:
1 – Why is this additional tithe for dough made from the 5 grains necessary?
2 – What is the grammatical root for the word “Challah”?
3 – Why does the Torah not give a fixed amount to tithe as it did for the regular Terumah, Maaser etc.?
Reb Noson explains (Likutey Halakhot, Orach Chaim, Nefilat Apayim #4) that it is specifically these 5 grains (wheat, barley, oats, rye and spelt) that ferment and become leavened which require the Challah tithe.
He explains that the main nourishment of the mind/brain is from these 5 grains, and it is the mind which then nourishes the entire body. This is what makes these 5 grains so important.
Furthermore, the mind – Da’at – is connected to the letter Heh (5) since it represents the 5 distinctions between man’s mind and – so to speak – the mind/intellect of HaShem (at the end of Likutey Moharan lesson 53 Rebbe Nachman delineates what these 5 differences are – see there). This is why there are specifically 5 types of grain that nourish the mind/brain.
However, Reb Noson points out that the big “highlight” of these 5 grains is that they ferment. Fermentation takes place when we let the flour and water “sit and wait” for a period of time. This sitting and waiting parallels the mind’s process of sitting and waiting too.
He explains that sitting, waiting and calming the mind from its intellectual pursuit is really the secret to reaching true, holy and lofty perceptions of HaShem, the Torah and life itself, for the normal tendency of the mind is to run in pursuit of further light and intellect in life. However, since this light is rooted in the Infinite Light – HaShem – Himself, if a person were allowed to keep on running forward, he would simply disintegrate and disappear into the Infinite Light (since man is only “finite”).
Reb Noson explains that sitting, waiting and calming the mind from its intellectual pursuit is the secret to reaching true, holy and lofty perceptions of HaShem, the Torah and life itself