Going Kosher – Separation of Milk and Meat – Chapter 7

By: Rabbi Amriam Markel


Torah Prohibitions

There are many laws regarding the separation of meat and milk. However, these are too numerous and complex to fully be explained within the scope of this small book. If in His infinite kindness the Living G-d will grant health and length of days, these laws will be addressed in a subsequent book dedicated to this subject. Nonetheless, here we will deal only with those rules that apply to keeping a kosher lifestyle on a daily basis.

As mentioned before, the Torah reiterates three times, “Do not cook a kid in its mother’s milk”.[1]  Since there are no superfluous words in the Torah, the rabbis taught us that through these verses the Torah forbids three matters in relation to the mixture of meat and milk:[2]

A) Cooking a mixture of the meat of domesticated kosher animals, such as goats, sheep and cows, with the milk of domesticated kosher animals.[3]

B) Eating a mixture of the cooked meat and milk of domesticated kosher animals.[4]

C) Deriving any benefit from a cooked mixture of the meat and milk of domesticated kosher animals.[5]

Rabbinical Prohibitions

In order to avoid error and confusion the rabbis extended the prohibition to include:

A) Eating a mixture of meat and milk of domesticated kosher animals, such as goat, sheep and beef, even if they are uncooked.[6]

B1) Eating cooked or uncooked meat of kosher poultry, such as chicken or undomesticated kosher animals, such as deer, mixed with the milk of kosher domesticated animals, such as cows;[7]

B2) Eating cooked or uncooked meat of kosher domesticated animals, such as beef, mixed with the milk of kosher undomesticated animals, such as deer;[8]

B3) Eating cooked or uncooked meat of kosher poultry, such as chicken or kosher undomesticated animals, such as deer, mixed with the milk of kosher undomesticated animals, such as deer.[9]

(Because they are from impure animals, the meat and milk of non-kosher animals are forbidden regardless of mixture. Therefore, the rabbis did not find it necessary to make the additional prohibition against mixture.[10])

C1) Eating meat that has soaked in liquid together with dairy for a period of 24 consecutive hours.[11] However, this rule does not apply to harsh liquids, such as brine or vinegar, in which case the meat becomes prohibited within a much shorter[12] time span.[13]

C2) Eating dairy that has soaked in liquid together with meat for a period of 24 consecutive hours.[14] As above, this rule does not apply to brine or vinegar.

(However, in both of the above cases, if the liquid was changed within the 24 hour period or even if the items were taken out and returned later, their consumption is not necessarily prohibited.[15] Nonetheless, a rabbinical authority should be consulted.)

D) Eating heavily salted meat and dairy that came in contact with each other, even if only one of them was heavily salted.[16] This will be explained later at greater length.

1) However, the rabbinical injunction only prohibits the act of eating these additional mixtures. It does not prohibit cooking or deriving benefit from them.[17] It is, therefore, permissible for a Jew to cook a mixture of poultry and milk for medicinal purposes, to sell to a non-Jew or to feed his animals. Nonetheless, so that people should not get the wrong impression[18] and suspect him of cooking it for his own consumption,[19] this is permissible only under the following caveats:

a) It must be readily recognizable as poultry or venison rather than goat, mutton or beef.[20]

b) It must be recognizable that it is not being cooked for consumption by a Jew.[21]

2) Likewise, though it is forbidden to eat, nonetheless, it is permissible to derive benefit from an uncooked mixture of the meat and milk of domesticated kosher animals, such as goats, sheep or cows. Therefore, such a mixture may be sold to a Non-Jew or fed to an animal.[22] However, as with the previous case, this too must be done in a way that is recognizably not for Jewish consumption.[23]

 Business in Non-Kosher Food

3) As stated above, a Jew may not derive benefit from any cooked mixture which is forbidden by the Torah. In addition, even if it is not a mixture of meat and milk, a Jew may not make a regular business of selling food which is forbidden by Torah.[24] This is because he may inadvertently sell it to non-observant Jews[25] or he may come to accidentally eat some of it himself.[26] However, if it came into his possession inadvertently, such as through inheritance or through the death of his animal etc. he may dispose of it by selling it.[27] A Jew may, nonetheless, engage in business dealings involving foods that are forbidden only by rabbinical injunction.[28]

4) Since the intent of a kosher slaughterhouse is to produce kosher meat and it is inevitable that a percentage of animals slaughtered there will not be kosher, a kosher slaughterhouse may regularly sell non-kosher meat to non-Jewish packinghouses or distributors. However, it should not retail such meat to the general public, as this may lead to the inadvertent sale of non-kosher meat to non-observant Jews.[29]

5) As stated above, the prohibition against cooking meat and milk together applies whether or not one will eat it or derive any benefit from it. Therefore, a Jew should not even light the fire under the pot of a non-Jew because it likely contains a mixture of meat and milk.[30] This being the case, a Jew should not work as a chef in a non-kosher restaurant, since under such conditions, it is almost impossible to avoid cooking an mixture of meat and milk or using pots that had a mixture of meat and milk cooked in them within a 24 hour period.[31] Moreover, if it is probable that non-observant Jews dine there he should not work there as a chef altogether, since he would be aiding and abetting them in transgressing the mitzvoth.[32]

However, if because of financial distress one finds himself employed in a non-kosher restaurant that, because of its location, has a low probability of non-observant Jews dining there, he must avoid cooking mixtures of meat and milk or cooking in pots that have been used within 24 hours. Nonetheless, he may cook in pots and pans that have not been used for over 24 hours on condition that he does not cook any milk mixed with the meat of goats, sheep or cows. Needless to say, he should take great care not to taste any food of such an establishment and should try to find employment elsewhere as soon as possible.

The reason why he may cook in pots that have not been used within 24 hours is because only food that has been absorbed in the walls of a vessel and are beneficial to the taste of food cooked in it, render the food non-kosher. After a period of 24 hours, the flavor is considered to have been spoiled. Therefore, it will be detrimental to the taste and is ineffectual in causing it to be non-kosher. However, out of concern that a vessel may inadvertently be used to cook food which is not harmed by the bad taste or that it will be used within 24 hours,[33] the sages decreed that it be koshered anyways.[34]

 Feeding Animals and Pets

6) Furthermore, a mixture of goat, mutton or beef cooked with milk may not be sold, given away to a non-Jew or fed to animals, even if they are ownerless, such as stray dogs or alley cats.[35] Rather, it must be destroyed or discarded so that it will not benefit any creature.[36] It should be buried or flushed down the toilet.[37] However, it should not be discarded in the garbage and placed on the street for trash pickup, because of animals that scavenge for discarded food.[38] Neither should it be incinerated.[39]

7) Since, as stated above, it is forbidden to feed animals a mixture of the cooked meat and milk of kosher domesticated animals, such as goats, sheep and cows,[40] therefore, when purchasing pet food it is important to read the ingredients to ascertain that there is no such mixture. However, if the pet food contains a mixture of milk and meat from non-kosher animals, it does not fall under this prohibition and the pet may be fed the food.

Breast Milk

8) Even though the prohibition against cooking a mixture of meat and milk does not apply to mother’s breast milk, it is forbidden to do so[41] because, since it looks like regular milk, it could give people the wrong impression.[42] However, if breast milk accidentally falls into a hot pot of meat stewing on the fire, as long as it is unnoticeable,[43] it is considered to be null and void. The stew may be eaten even if the milk is more than one sixtieth of the stew.[44] Similarly, if a baby bottle which has only been used with breast milk was washed together with meat dishes; both the bottle and the dishes remain kosher.

9) However, though breast milk is kosher, nonetheless, an adult[45] or a child who is over 24 months old and has been weaned[46] is forbidden from suckling milk directly from a woman’s breasts. This is so even if she squirts it into his mouth[47] without his mouth touching her breast.[48] On the other hand, a child who has not been weaned may suckle from his mother’s breasts until the completion of his fourth year if he is well or until the completion of his fifth year if he is weak[49] or sickly.[50] 

Marait Ayin-Giving Wrong Impression

10) In order to avoid any misunderstandings,[51] a Jew who publicly[52] serves[53] beef[54] or even chicken[55] in a milk substitute made of almonds, must put almonds next to the almond milk. In this way people will realize that it is not a mixture of meat and milk. Furthermore, soy-milk should not be consumed during a meat meal unless it is served with its package.[56] However, if almonds (or the package) are unavailable, the food may still be consumed.[57] Today, non-dairy margarine, creamer, ice-cream and whipped topping are so common that they do not arouse suspicion of being a mixture of meat and milk.[58] Therefore, according to many authorities, they need no special sign. However, pareve frankfurters, sausages or mock beef patties etc. eaten together with cheese, could be mistaken for a mixture of meat and milk. They, therefore, should not be eaten publicly in this manner, unless it is announced that they are pareve or they are served together with their package or there is a sign indicating that they are not real meat. Likewise, soup made of coconut milk cooked with meat should not be served publicly unless it is clearly indicated that it is non-dairy.[59]

 Asking Non-Jew to cook Meat and Milk

11) It is forbidden to give meat and milk to a non-Jew and instruct him to cook them together. This is so even if he cooks them for his own consumption. Moreover, it is even forbidden to give him only meat with the instruction that he should cook it in a dairy pot, even if the pot belongs to the non-Jew. However, if he is simply given meat and happens to choose a dairy pot to cook in, no infraction has been committed.[60]

Fish and Meat

12) Due to health considerations,[61] the rabbis forbade the consumption of meat and fish together.[62] Furthermore, not only is it forbidden to eat beef, mutton and goat with fish, but poultry, such as chicken and turkey, are also included in the prohibition.[63] However, though fish and meat may not be eaten simultaneously, nonetheless, they may be eaten one after the other, even during the same meal.[64] This is on condition that one cleanses his mouth first, by either drinking or eating something between the fish and the meat.[65] Sephardic custom is also to wash the hands,[66] whereas Ashkenazic custom is more lenient in this regard.[67] However, when drinking after eating fish, one should drink something other than water, since this too is regarded as being detrimental to one’s health.[68]

13) Though, in principle, it makes no difference whether the fish is consumed before the meat or vice versa,[69] nevertheless, one should always begin a meal with light food and follow it with heavier food.[70] Since fish is lighter than meat it is customary to eat fish first, clean one’s mouth by eating or drinking something,[71] and then eat meat.

14) When serving fish followed by meat at the same meal, it is customary to clear the table of the fish before serving meat.[72] Furthermore, it is important to change or rewash the dishes and utensils that will be used, before serving the meat so as not to cause cross-contamination.

15) Just as fish and meat should not be eaten together, so they should not be salted,[73] cooked, baked, roasted or grilled together.[74] Some people take the extra precaution of setting aside special pots, pans and utensils exclusively for cooking fish.[75] However, though this is exemplary, nevertheless, since fish is pareve, it is permissible to cook fish in a meat pot, as long as it is clean,[76] even though 24 hours have not passed since meat was cooked in it.[77] Of course, afterwards, the pot should be cleaned before cooking meat in it again.[78]

16) As stated above, fish and meat should not be baked in an oven simultaneously.[79] This is because of the possibility of dripping or splattering from one food to the other.[80] However, if the need arises, it is permissible to bake fish and meat together in the same oven, on condition that they are in separate pans and that at least one of the pans is securely sealed with aluminum foil, or the like.[81] Also, to avoid spillage, it is preferable that both pans be on the same level rather than one above the other.

17) Though fish and meat should not be baked simultaneously in separate open pans, if it was inadvertently done, both dishes may be eaten, on condition that nothing dripped or splattered from one pan to the other during the course of baking.[82] Of course, if the pans were situated one above the other or even if they were side by side on the same shelf, but in close proximity to each other, this increases the possibility of their contaminating each other.  In the event this happens, inquire of your rabbi for his ruling.

18) It is permissible to bake pareve foods, such as knishes or burekas, in the oven simultaneously with meat and to serve them with fish. Likewise, it is permissible to bake them simultaneously with fish and to serve them with meat.[83] However, precautions should be taken to assure that nothing drips or splatters from the meat or fish pan to the other pan. To avoid this, it is advisable to place the knishes or burekas on the upper rack and the fish or meat on the lower rack.

Fish and Milk

19) There is a difference of opinion as to the permissibility of eating fish and milk together. However, this too is not connected to the prohibition of eating meat with milk. Sephardic authorities forbid eating fish and milk together for health reasons, citing that it is detrimental to one’s health,[84] similar to the above ruling regarding fish and meat. However, though they forbid eating fish with milk or cheese, they permit eating fish fried in butter.[85] Ashkenazic authorities, on the other hand, permit eating fish and milk together.[86] This being the case, a cheese pizza baked with a fish topping, or a “Tuna Melt”, which is made by baking tuna and cheese together, is forbidden to Sephardim and permitted to Ashkenazim. However, some Ashkenazic communities, especially certain Chassidic sects, follow the stricter view. Ask your rabbi for his guidance.  

All authorities are in agreement that fish may be cooked in a dairy pot and that fish and milk may be eaten in close succession to each other even during the same meal.[87] However, Sephardim are required to clean the pot before cooking dairy in it again and to wash their hands and rinse their mouths between eating fish and milk.[88]

Storing Meat and Milk

20) Sealed packages of meat may be placed or stored together with sealed packages of dairy.[89] Nonetheless, before doing so, one should ascertain that they are properly sealed.[90] If there is one open package, as long as the other packages are sealed, one may be lenient.[91]

21) On condition that they will be rinsed afterwards, all foods that are customarily peeled or washed before use may be placed or stored together with cold meat or dairy foods.[92] However, unpackaged meat and dairy products, especially if they are moist or greasy, should not be placed or stored together, even when cold, lest there be a transfer from one to the other.[93] Furthermore, it is advisable to place solids on a higher shelf than liquids to avoid spillage of one kind onto the other.

Meat and Milk on Same Table

22) As a general rule, it is forbidden to eat meat on a table that has dairy on it or to eat dairy on a table that has meat on it, lest one forget and inadvertently eat from the other kind.[94]

23) If two strangers are sitting at the same table, each one eating his meal separately, it is permissible for one to eat meat while the other eats dairy.[95] Since they are uncomfortable with each other there is no possibility that they may inadvertently share each others food.[96] Nonetheless, they should each have separate loaves of bread, salt shakers and pitchers for their beverage.[97]

24) If two friends or relatives are sitting at the same table, one eating a meat meal and the other eating a dairy meal; since they are comfortable with each other, there is the possibility that they may inadvertently share each others food.[98] Therefore, in addition to not sharing loaves of bread, salt shakers and pitchers, they must also make some kind of separation between them as a reminder not to share their food.[99] This may be in the form of eating on separate meat and dairy tablecloths,[100] putting an item between them, such as a candelabrum,[101] or sitting on opposite sides of a long table so that they are out of reach of each others food.[102]

25) On the other hand, if two people are sitting at the same table and one is eating fish while the other is eating meat, they do not need any separation between them, even if they are friends or relatives.[103] Nonetheless, it is customary to be strict in this regard by not putting meat and fish on the table simultaneously.[104] However, in a restaurant or banquet setting, in which meat is served to some and fish is served to others, even though they are sitting at the same table, there is no cause for concern.[105]

[1] Exodus 23:19, Exodus 34:26, Deuteronomy 14:21.

[2] גמ’ חולין קח ע”ב, וראה שו”ע יו”ד פז:א.

[3] רמב”ם מאכלות אסורות ט:א, וראה שו”ע יו”ד פז:א

[4] שו”ע יו”ד שם וש”ך א, וראה רמ”א יו”ד קה:א

[5] שו”ע יו”ד שם.

[6] שו”ע יו”ד פז:א

[7] שו”ע יו”ד פז:ג

[8] פת”ש פז:ז.

[9] רמב”ם הל’ מאכלות אסורות  ט:ד.

[10] ראה ט”ז יו”ד פז:ב וש”ך יו”ד פז:ג דפליגי על הב”ח שם.

[11] שו”ע יו”ד קה:א, וראה חכמ”א נח:א.

[12] 6 to 18 minutes. Consult a rabbi in the event this occurs.

[13] שו”ע יו”ד סט:יח, שו”ע יו”ד קה:א, דרכ”ת קה:מב.

[14] שו”ע שם, חכמ”א שם.

[15] חידושי רעק”א יו”ד קה:א.

[16] שו”ע צא:ה, וראה רמ”א שם.

[17]וראה ט”ז וש”ך שם, וכן ראה חכמ”א מ:ג. שו”ע שם.

[18] היינו מראית העין.

[19] רמ”א שם סעיף ג’, וראה שי”ע שם סעיף ד’.

[20] ראה יד אברהם על רמ”א סי’ פ”ז:ב.

[21] חכמ”א מ:ד.

[22] שו”ע סי’ צא:ח, וראה רמ”א פז:א.

[23] חכמ”א מ:ד.

[24] שו”ע יו”ד קיז.

[25] דרכ”ת קיז:סה.

[26] ש”ך יו”ד קיז:ב, ט”ז קיז:א, באר היטב קיז:ב.

[27] שו”ע קיז.

[28] שו”ע שם, וראה ש”ך קיז:יד.

[29] דרכ”ת קיז:סה.

[30] רמ”א פז:ו

[31] ראה פמ”ג הקדמה לבשר בחלב, וראה חכמ”א מו:א, וכן עיין פת”ש פז:ח.

[32] ראה תוס’ לגמ’ שבת ג ע”ב.

[33] גמ’ ע”ז עה:ב, ראה ספתי דעה קג:ז, יד יהודה קג:כג.

[34] הגרע”א יו”ד קג:ה.

[35] ראה שו”ע יו”ד פז:א עפ”י המשנה סוף תמורה, וראה חכמ”א מ:ב וההקדמה ליד אפרים.

[36] או”ה כא:יג.

[37] ראה או”ה שם.

[38] ראה או”ה שם.

[39] פר”ח צד:י, וראה דרכ”ת פז:ט.

[40] חכמ”א מ:סב.

[41]  שו”ע יו”ד פז:ד. חכמ”א מ:ד.

[42] היינו מראית העין.

[43] דרכ”ת פז:נא.

[44]  שו”ע יו”ד פז ופמ”ג שם. וראה דרכ”ת פז:נב.

[45] רמב”ם הל’ מאכלות אסורות ג:ד, ש”ע יו”ד פא:ז.

[46] רמב”ם שם ג:ה, ש”ע יו”ד שם.

[47] ש”ע יו”ד שם.

[48] ש”ך יו”ד פא:יח.

[49] ש”ך יו’ד פא:יט.

[50]   רמב”ם שם ג:ה, ש”ע יו”ד שם.

[51] רמ”א פז:ג.

[52] פת”ש יו”ד פז:י.

[53]ש”ך פז:ז, ושפתי דעת פז:ז חולק וכותב שדוקא במבשל מניח שקדים.

[54] רמ”א יו”ד פז:ג, וראה פר”ח שם.

[55] ט”ז פז:ה, ש”ך פז:ו.

[56] שו”ת חשב האפוד א:כ.

[57] ט”ז יו”ד פז:ד.

[58]  צי”א ה:יב, משנה הלכות ה:צו, יבי”א ח”ו יו”ד ח, חשב האפוד א:כ.

[59] שו”ת משנה הלכות ה:צו ושו”ת חשב האפוד א:כ.

[60] ביה”ל או”ח שז בשם פמ”ג, וראה ספר מלכים אומנייך דיני אמירה לנכרי פ”י.

[61] גמ’ פסחים עו:ב, שו”ע יו”ד קטז:ב, שו”ע או”ח קעג:ב.

[62] שו”ע יו”ד קטז:ב.

[63] שבות יעקב ב:קד, פת”ש יו”ד קטז:ב, ערוה”ש י.

[64] שו”ע ורמ”א יו”ד קטז:ג.

[65] שו”ע יו”ד קטז:ג, רמ”א שם, משנ”ב או”ח קעג:ד, כה”ח יו”ד קטז:ל.

[66] שו”ע יו”ד קטז:ג.

[67] רמ”א יו”ד קטז:ג.

[68] חידושי רעק”א יו”ד קטז:ה.

[69] קיצור שו”ע לג:ב, בא”ח פנחס ח:י.

[70] רמב”ם הלכות דעות ד:ז.

[71] שו”ע ורמ”א יו”ד קטז:ג.

[72] שבט הלוי ג, קיא:ג.

[73] שו”ע יו”ד ע:א.

[74] רמ”א יו”ד קטז:ב, ש”ך קטז:א, חכמ”א סח:א.

[75] טור יו”ד קטז, או”ה טל:כו.

[76] ט”ז יו”ד צה:ג

[77] חת”ס יו”ד סוף סי’ קא.

[78] ט”ז יו”ד צה:ג.

[79] רמ”א יו”ד קטז:ב, ש”ך יו”ד קטז:א, חכמ”א סח:א.

[80] ש”ך יו”ד קטז:ג.

[81] שו”ע ורמ”א יו”ד קטז:ב, וראה ש”ך וט”ז שם.

[82] ערוה”ש יו”ד קטז:י.

[83] ט”ז יו”ד קטז:ב, באר היטב שם.

[84] ב”י יו”ד פז, וראה חדושי הגהות על ב”י אות ד’, וכן ראה רבינו בחיי משפטים, וראה בן איש חי בהעלתך טו.

[85] שו”ת יחו”ד ו:מח, שו”ת רב פעלים ח”ב יו”ד י, שו”ת זבחי צדק ג:קמג, כה”ח יו”ד פז:כד, וראה פמ”ג או”ח קעג א”א:א.

[86] ט”ז יו”ד פז:ג, ש”ך יו”ד פז:ה, פת”ש יו”ד פז:ט, דרכ”ת פז:מח, וכן ראה רמב”ם הל’ מאכלות אסורות ט:ה, שכתב שם דגים וחגבים מותר לאכלן בחלב.

[87] כה”ח או”ח קע:ג.

[88] כה”ח או”ח שם.

[89] שו”ע יו”ד צא:א, שו”ע צה:ו.

[90] רמ”א יו”ד צה:ו.

[91] זבחי צדק יו”ד צה:מה.

[92] שו”ע יו”ד צא:ב.

[93] שו”ע יו”ד צא:ב.

[94] שו”ע יו”ד פח:א וש”ך שם ב. וראה חכמ”א מ:יא.

[95] שו”ע יו”ד פח:ב. חכמ”א מ:יא.

[96] ש”ך יו”ד פח:ג.

[97] ש”ך יו”ד פח:ח, באר היטב פח:ה.

[98] ש”ך יו”ד פח:ג.

[99] שו”ע יו”ד פח:ב.

[100] שו”ע שם.

[101] רמ”א יו”ד פח:ב.

[102] פת”ש יו”ד פח:ג. וראה חכמ”א מ:יא.

[103] שבט הלוי ג קיא:ג.

[104] שבט הלוי שם.

[105] שבט הלוי שם.

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