Latest update: May 20th, 2013
New York City
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The Rema (Yoreh De’ah 89:2) states regarding the stringency of not consuming meat after cheese, “… and such is our custom: in all cases where the cheese is hard, we do not eat after it even the meat of fowl [without waiting], just like cheese after meat. However, there are those who are more lenient and one should not protest [such behavior]; rather, they should clean [the teeth], rinse the mouth, and wash the hands – but it is far better to be more stringent.”
We see from Rema’s statement that there are distinctions among different types of cheese, for we are more stringent with hard cheeses than with soft ones. Milk would certainly be classified within the soft cheese category, where there seem to be more leniencies.
Indeed, as noted in Chochmat Adam, milk is included in the violation of basar bechalav . (We might add another reason: “Ein mikra yotzei mi’dei peshuto – The verse in the Torah forbidding us to cook a kid in its mother’s milk – ‘lo tevashel gedi bachalev immo – must obviously include the simple meaning of the word chalav, milk.)
R. Feivel Cohen elaborates in his Badei HaShulchan (Yoreh De’ah 89:1) regarding the Mechaber’s statement that one who ate meat, even of an undomesticated animal (chayya) or fowl (of), may not eat cheese afterwards until six hours have elapsed. R. Cohen explains that this prohibition specifically includes milk, and he refers to the conclusions of earlier halachic authorities who rule accordingly, citing Responsa Neta Sorek (Responsum 34) of the Gaon R. Shraga Tzvi Tannenbaum, zt”l (1826-1896), the Chahter Rav, great-grandfather of Rabbi Gershon Tannenbaum, Jewish Press columnist.
R. Shraga Tzvi Tannenbaum rules that “milk” includes even the watery residue of milk (meimei chalav – whey). This is the residue that R. Tannenbaum defines (ad loc.) as the byproduct of the process of producing cheese. When the milk separates after a period of time, it is cooked and in the final separation it yields cheese and this liquid byproduct.
R. Tannenbaum concludes that one who ate meat and has to wait six hours before eating dairy (according to the rabbinic ruling), has to wait as well before consuming this liquid byproduct of milk. All that our sages decreed has the weight of a biblical prohibition. (However, when one is ill, one may be lenient.)
A question about leniency regarding milk, as opposed to cheese, was posed to the Gaon R. Moshe Sternbuch (Responsa Teshuvot VeHanhagot, Yoreh De’ah Vol. 2:390): “I have been asked by many people here [presumably in South Africa, where he served as rav for many years] who drink a cup of coffee with milk before dinner and afterwards wish to eat a meat dinner: ‘How long are we required to wait?’
“In the Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh De’ah 89:2) it is stated openly that if one ate cheese, he is permitted to eat meat immediately afterwards, with the proviso that he checks his hands [to ensure they are clean of any residue] – at night, when he cannot check his hands [thoroughly] he should wash his hands – and he must brush his teeth (lit., ‘wipe his mouth’) and rinse his mouth.
“It would seem from the Mechaber’s statement that these precautions are sufficient [to permit him to now consume meat immediately] and he does not even require a ‘beracha acharona’ such as borei nefashot, and removal [of the dairy table settings].
“In the Mishna Berura (Orach Chayyim 494:16) we find that a beracha acharona is not necessary [even though he states that this rule only applies if he did not eat hard cheese], and the Magen Avraham expresses a similar opinion.
“However, in Be’er Mayim Chayyim (Parashat Vayera) we find that one must recite the beracha acharona [at least borei nefashot] between them [the dairy and meat consumption]. Pri Megadim (384:3) rules similarly, saying that we should rather be more stringent and are required to recite a beracha acharona. We are to take heed of the Zohar’s statement [Parashat Mishpatim] that one is not to eat meat and milk in one meal, which we also find in the Beit Yosef commentary on the Tur (Orach Chayyim 173, s.v. veyesh machmirim). Indeed, one must be very stringent not to eat meat and dairy in one meal [the term 'dairy followed by meat in one meal' means that there is not even a blessing of borei nefashot separating these two edibles] or at one time, and if one does so, the Sitra Achara [the evil spirit, i.e. Satan] is [enabled to come] closer to him and causes bad happenings in this world for 40 days ….
“The Shach rules that there must be a wait of at least an hour, and so rules the Vilna Gaon (Yoreh De’ah 89:11). Our custom is to wait a half hour because this is generally the measure of ‘samuch.’ As we find (Orach Chayyim 232:2), ‘samuch’ means ‘close to’… [The Mishna Berura ad loc. explains the concept of samuch as one half hour.]
“However, the text of the Zohar seems to indicate that what is meant is ‘at one time’ [and thus any separation would suffice]. We might answer that the primary stringency of the Zohar relates specifically to food, which means a cooked dairy food [a solid]. But as to just drinking milk, possibly even the Zohar would be lenient and agree that we need not wait an hour, and one need only wash the mouth [and of course wait one half hour], and this would suffice. [R. Sternbuch notes that a similar view is expressed by Rashash in his commentary at the beginning of Perek Kol Habasar (Chullin)].
“However, if one drinks milk together with a mezonot food item [i.e. cake], some of the milk might get stuck [between the teeth] like a cooked [dairy] food; therefore it is only proper, according to the Zohar, to wait an [entire] hour like for a cooked food.
“Thus we see that although the halacha in the Shulchan Aruch is that one who eats even a cooked [dairy] food or a baked dairy cake would be immediately permitted to eat meat after he has cleaned [his teeth] and rinsed his mouth [and hands] thoroughly, provided he recites [the beracha acharona] and removes himself from the dairy [table], nonetheless one who is stringent is to wait an hour after eating a cooked [dairy] food or dairy cakes. According to the Zohar, such a person is referred to as a ‘kadosh.’ At the very least, one should wait a half hour after one has cleaned [his hands] and brushed his teeth properly.
“However, as for simply drinking milk [straight, or mixed with coffee], our custom is not to be that stringent. It is sufficient to recite borei nefashot and rinse the mouth thoroughly. There are those who are accustomed to being more stringent regarding milk, and they wait one half hour, though, according to Halacha, there is no such requirement.”
(To be continued)
About the Author: Rabbi Yaakov Klass, rav of Congregation K’hal Bnei Matisyahu in Flatbush, Brooklyn, is Torah Editor of The Jewish Press. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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