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Thought for the Day: What's Wrong With Eating Milk After Meat

[BEGIN Introductory prose to demonstrate my flair for writing]
At least one person will be very happy to read this post.  He (you know who you are) asked me a question that I more or less pushed off.  First, I thought I knew the answer, but I had no proof.  Second, it's the kind of question that you really need a posek for, but it's not l'ma'asah, so I was nervous about bothering the poskim I know.  Well... I had a few seconds with a posek this morning while we were getting our coats (I even "accidentally" stole his t'fillin to get a few extra seconds with him...)  I am glad I did, because I was wrong about what I had thought was the answer.  Moreover, I was gleefully enlightened about how to judge the relevant factors (I was wrong about that also.)  So now... what was the question, what did I incorrectly think, and what was the correct answer?
[END Introductory prose to demonstrate my flair for writing]

Suppose a soon to be ger eats a a nice, grilled rib steak for lunch, finishing at 1:00 PM just before his beis din for conversion.  He enters the beis din at 1:30 PM where he is grilled for three hours.  He gives a drop of blood, immerses, and heads home at 5:00 PM as a new Jew as certified by the beis din.  (Not a Dutch beis din, not even a German beis din; but a good ole American  -- why, yes; we do wait six hours after eating meat before drinking milk -- beis din.)  It's August in Dallas and very hot, and he's had a long day.  A milk shake is just what the doctor ordered.  Can he drink it immediately, or does he need to wait till 7:00 PM?

I posed the question, the posek asked me, "What do you think?"  "I figured he could probably drink it right away."  "Ah."  [Bad sign...] "You were probably thinking since a ger is koton sh'nolad dami (like a new born child."  [Really, really bad sign that he has already determined where I went wrong.]  I am committed, though, so I plunge ahead, "If his mother also converts too, he could even marry her!" (d'oraiso)  "True," says the posek, "because there is no halachik relationship.  On the other hand, there is no issur yichud; because the m'tzius (reality) is that there is a physical relationship.  The reason you can't eat dairy after meat is because Chazal were worried about grease on your teeth and/or bit of meat stuck between your teeth.  Why would that concern be any different here?"

Right.  I was so focussed on my beautiful s'vara that I forget the most elementary first step in deductive analysis: know your facts.  The issur of eating dairy after meat has nothing whatsoever with the meat in your stomach (or any other part of your alimentary canal).  The issur is to have the taste of milk and meat in your mouth.  The fact that he was a goy when he ate the steak is a red herring  (and we know the danger of mixing meat and fish).  The physical situation is that this new Jew has grease on his teeth and/or bits of meat stuck between them that is less then six hours old.  Of course he can't have that milk shake till 7:00 PM!

Of course, if he had eaten ham, then he certainly could have the milk shake now.  "Wait!", you exclaim, "How sincere can he be and how likely is the beis din to accept him after watching him eat ham!?"  A reasonable remark, and I have a remarkable answer.


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