Milk & Meat – How is it derived from the Torah?

By: Rabbi Dovid Markel


Dear Rabbi

Reading the Bible, I see no mention of a prohibition of not consuming milk and meat. Where does that come from?




The commandment of not eating milk and meat together is derived from the following verse, which is mentioned three times in the Torah. It is written: “One should not cook a kid in the milk of its mother[1].”

From a superficial reading of the verse, it seems that the law is a specific ruling concerning a goat being cooked in its mother’s milk.

The Sages explain however, that:

1)      Although it uses an example of a goat the prohibition extends to include all domesticated animals[2].

2)      Although the verse only says that one may not cook them together, the prohibition includes not eating milk and meat together or benefiting from them as well.

3)      The prohibition extends to mixing the meat with any milk, even that which is not from its own mother.

The Talmud[3] infers the first of the above laws from another verse in the Torah which also speaks of kid goats. From the extra words in the second verse it derives the general definition for the word “kid” in Torah parlance.

In the book of Bereishis[4], in the story of Yehudah and Tamar, the following verse is said: “Yehudah sent the kid of the goats through his friend the Adullamite to retrieve the pledge from the woman; but he did not find her.” The Talmud points out that the words “kid of the goats” are seemingly redundant, as all kids are from goats. The Talmud therefore learns that whenever the Torah merely says the word “kid,” it implies all young domesticated [kosher] animals. When the Torah specifically means a young goat it says so explicitly, as it does in this verse concerning Yehudah and Tamar. However, in the verse concerning milk and meat where it does not say a “kid of the goats” but rather says “a kid,” we know that it implies all young domesticated [kosher] animals.

The second rule, the Talmud[5] derives from an apparent redundancy in the verses. Instead of this law being taught once, the Torah states it three times. The Talmud clarifies this apparent redundancy by explaining that each verse teaches an additional rule:

The first statement teaches that meat and milk may not be cooked as one, the second imparts that they must not be eaten together, and from the last we derive that one cannot benefit from a mixture of milk and meat that were cooked together.

Regarding the third point, of the Torah’s mention only of the milk from the animal’s mother, it is explained that it was stated as such because that was the common practice. However, cooking any meat in milk is prohibited as well[6].

From these three abovementioned points, the prohibitions concerning the consumption of meat and milk are derived.


[1]Shemos 23:19, Shemos 34:26, Devarim 14:21

[2] Non-domesticated animals are prohibited by rabbinic law. Chulin 113a, ShulchanAruch YOD 87:3

[3]Chulin 113a-b, Rashi Shemos 23:19, See Even Ezra Shemos 23:19

[4] 38:20

[5]Chulin 115b, ShulchanAruch YOD 87:1

[6]Unkulos Shemos 23:19, Even Ezra Shemos 23:19. See Rambam Ma’achalos Assuros 9:1, Shulchan Aruch YOD 87:1

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