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Thought for the Day: Milk After Meat -- Doubt About How Long It Has Been

I was once spending Shabbos with some good friends (whom we had just met... they really did become good friends, though).  I went to make a cup of coffee for myself, took a mug and... "Aaagh!  Don't do that! Those mugs are fleishig!!", exclaimed my hostess.  "That's ok, I just want coffee.", I replied.  "Aaagh!  Right!  Those mugs are fleishig!!"  After some back and forth we finally communicated; I don't put milk in my coffee, never have, tried it once and didn't even like it.  A gift from my Dad, alav ha'shalom.  My hostess, however, thought "coffee without milk" was like "bread without flour".

For those of you who do drink milk in your coffee, though, here's a cute question: You finished your cholent 12:30-ish, it's now 6:15-ish and you really, really want a cup of coffee.  You are not certain when you finished your cholent, it really could have been 12:15, but you know with certainty that you finished your cholent by 12:30.  Do you really have to wait, or is there room for "safeik d'rabanan l'kula"?  After all, the issur d'oraisa is only to cook meat and milk together; d'oraisa you could even drink a milkshake with your cold cut sandwich.

One kicker... davar sh'yeish lo matirin/a substance that will become permissible in the near-ish future.  The classic example of which is an egg laid on Yom Tov after Shabbos.  The gemara has a four way machlokes about why that egg is assur on Yom Tov, but assur it is.  Suppose that egg gets cracked and its contents gets mixed with more than 60 times its volume of permissible egg goo -- oh heck!  make it more than 1,000 times its volume; it doesn't really matter, because it never becomes batel.  Why not?  Because it will be 100% (not 1000%... there's no such thing) permissible after Yom Tov anyway, so Chazal said rather than relying on bitul, just wait.

Based on that reasoning, some want to say that you also need to wait for your coffee with milk.  After all, in 15 minutes it will definitely be permissible to drink, so why rely on safek?  Others say there is a big difference in the two situations.  In the case of the egg, it is the egg itself that is currently assur to eat.  In the case of the milky coffee, on the other hand, it is you (the would be consumer) that is not allowed the drink that particular concoction; the concoction itself, on the other hand, is perfectly permissible (for those of you who like milk in your coffee, which I don't; in case I haven't been clear about that).  How do we pasken?  Listen to R' Fuerst.

I would tell you, but I am having too much fun sipping my pareve coffee watching you sweating whether you need to wait or not.


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