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Thought for the Day: Fish, Meat, Cheese, and Kashering Bottom of Pan

I've been listening to shiurim from R' Fuerst titled simply, "Ask the Posek".  Six shiurim filled with questions the rabbi received the previous Friday "that I can discuss in public."  This morning I heard about a lady who was having "one of those days."  The first problem was that she had cooked fish in a fleishig pan.  Her mother always had a fish pot, so she was nervous that she had treifed up the pan and would have to throw away the fish.

The pan was verified to have been clean, so there is no problem of fish with meat "b'ein"/tangible fish with tangible meat; this was only a question of taste being absorbed by the fish.  On the other hand, the pan was a "ben yomo"/had been used within the prior 24 hours for cooking meat, so any absorbed flavor would still be considered to have a good taste.  (After 24 hours, any absorbed tasted is considered to be "pagum"/ruined and no longer causes problems.)  While fish with meat is considered an unhealthy combination, we don't know exactly what the problem is.  Some poskim even feel that our nature has changed and the combination is not unhealthy any more.  None the less, we do not mix fish and meat, but we also don't put any margins around the precise situation that Chazal stated.  Hence, the fish can be eaten.  More than that, the fish is not even considered fleishig because any meat taste that comes from the fish would already be two steps removed from the original source.  That is called "naht bar naht" which stands for "nosein ta'am bar nosein ta'am"/absorbed taste of absorbed taste, which is not enough to render the fish fleishig.

Then the lady had a follow up question (here comes the bad day part).  She was distressed about realizing she was frying fish in a fleishig pan and quickly took it off the heat and put it down -- on a piece of American cheese!  Whoops.  Cooking cheese with a fleishig pot is a problem, of course.  Metal pans are not very absorbent, but they certainly do absorb to some degree.  Since we don't know, and cooking meat with milk is a real issur d'oraisa, we take the "worst case" view and treat the pan as if it is basically a piece of meat.  Therefore, since the pan was a ben yomo, it definitely needs to be kashered.  How, though?

The usual rule is "however it went it, that's how it comes out".  Since the cheese taste went in through the bottom, it should come out that way.  Meaning, that she should boil up a pot of water big enough that she can submerge the frying pan.  Not all of us have industrial sized pots available for that.  Given the situation, therefore, she would be allowed to kasher the frying pan by boiling water in the pan itself.

Rabbi Fuerst that day also got a call from a lady buying a crock pot (should she get the one that temperature can be set, or just high-med-low -- he said high-medium-low) and another lady about what kind of diapers to buy (velcro or tape fasteners -- velcro is better).  You are not going to find that in Mishna Brura... good thing we have R' Fuerst!


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