Skip to main content

Thought for the Day: Is It Forbidden to Eat Mixtures of Milk and Meat OR Is Milk&Meat a New Forbidden Food?

When Klal Yisrael first came to Eretz Yisrael (nee K'na'an), Moshe Rabeinu decided that sending spies first was a good idea.  As we all know -- especially as we enter into the dark period of our year known as "the three weeks"; that decision was a disaster.  40 years later, Y'ho'shu'a also decided to send in spies before entering the land.  While everything turned out fine this time, many wonder why he took a chance like that, given the distressing historical precedent four decades earlier.  The Malbim has a lengthy piece on that topic, but the basic answer is that even though the execution was similar (spies were sent both times), the motivation and intent of the operation were completely different.  In a nutshell, the spies that Moshe sent were looking to see if entering the land was a good idea, whereas Y'ho'shu'a's (yikes that's a lot of apostrophes!) spies were looking for the best way to enter.

Almost 40 years ago to the day someone decided it was good idea to spend his date with a new girlfriend discussing chemistry (he actually talked about teflon, but that's not important right now).  Because of that decision, he lost the opportunity to have a relationship with that girl.  Good thing for me, as that girl is now the mother of my children, grandmother of my grandchildren, my best friend, and the one person that I know actually reads all my TftDs.  You might wonder, therefore, why I am going to discuss chemistry right now.  (Actually, if you know me at all, you are not wondering.  You are merely wondering how often that girl wonders if she really made the right decision; and if not, why not?!)

Sodium (Na) is a metal that explodes on contact with water.  Chlorine (Cl) is extraordinarily toxic; in fact it was used during WW I as an early modern chemical warfare agent.  Combine them into a compound (not just a mixture), and you get NaCl; aka, ordinary table salt.  Hydrogen (H) is an explosive gas that was responsible for the Hindenberg disaster.  Oxygen (O) is a gas needed for life, but in high concentrations is toxic and cause other things to explode.  Combine them into a compound (not just a mixture) and you get H2O; aka, water.  (Fine... water is also toxic in high concentrations... picky, picky).  When you combine salt with water, all you get is salty water.  There is no compound of salt and water; all you ever have is salt and water.  Even though the salt is dissolved in the water, it can always be removed; neither any worse for the wear.

Now... let's talk about meat and milk.  Both meat and milk are, of course, kosher.  Also, of course, the Torah forbids eating milk cooked with meat and Chazal extended that to any mixture of meat and milk.  The question is: Do we view milk and meat as forbidden mixture, or is there a new compound -- called milk and meat -- that is a forbidden substance?  You may be wondering what possible difference that could make.  I am actually banking on that!

There are two very practical differences that I know.  First, suppose you have a dairy pot in which you last cooked macaroni and cheese at 10:00AM yesterday morning.  At 6:00 PM yesterday afternoon, someone heated up leftover cholent.  Aargh!  Calm down, after 24 hours we know that absorbed tasted become icky (פגום is the technical term, but icky is much more evocative) and are no longer forbidden.  So... do we say that the milk becomes icky at 10:00AM this morning and from then to 6:00PM you have a kosher -- albeit fleishig -- pot; or do we say that a forbidden compound of milk and meat was formed at 6:00PM yesterday, and you'll need to wait to 6:00PM tonight for that pot to again be kosher.  (In any case, as we all know, we're going to need to kasher it; the question is really when can you kasher it.)

Another example is with respect to חתיכה נעשית נבילה, aka חנ''ן.  The term is precise: it is only נבילה/forbidden substance that we say that the entire chunk becomes forbidden.  If we have regular food, we never say that.  So... you have a milchig spoon that is 10 oz large that is soaked in 1 oz of hot milk.  That spoon is then put into a cholent pot with 60 oz of cholent.  We don't say that we have 10 oz of dairy in the form of a spoon; we only have 1 oz of milk absorbed.  But the spoon also absorbs some meat.  Do we say that meat also doesn't expand to the volume of the spoon (since it is regular food), or do we say that once the meat infuses the spoon even the smallest amount, then we have this new milk and meat compound that is a forbidden substance and so now say חנ''ן?

Before we resolve this (actually, we'll find -- surprise -- that it is a matter of disagreement among the poskim), we need one more idea: נ''ט בר נ''ט.  What's that?  Hang on... we'll get there!


Popular posts from this blog

Thought for the Day: Using a Mitzvah Object for Non-Mitzvah Purposes

As I am -- Baruch HaShem -- getting older, I am more cognizant of the fact that I'd like to stay as healthy as possible right up the moment I leave this world.  Stuff hurting is not the problem (I am told there is an old Russian saying that once you are 40, if you wake up and nothing hurts -- you're dead), stuff not working, however, is a problem.  To that end, for several years now I commute to work by bicycle (weather permitting, 30 minutes on an elliptical machine when weather does not permit).  I recently took up some upper body weight training.  Not because I want to be governor of California, just simply to slow down loss of bone mass and extend my body's healthy span.  Simple hishtadlus.  I have an 18 month old grandson who is just the right weight for arm curls (yes... I am that weak), so I do about 10 reps when I greet him at night.  He laughs, I get my exercise; all good.  (Main problem is explaining to the older ones why zeidy can't give them the same "…

Thought for the Day: Thanking HaShem Each and Every Day for Solid Land Near Water

Each and every morning, a Jew is supposed to view himself as a new/renewed creation, ready for a new day of building his eternal self through Torah and mitzvos.  We begin the day with 16 brachos to praise/thank/acknowledge HaShem for giving us all the tools we need to succeed.  We have a body, soul, and intellect.  We have vision, mobility, and protection from the elements.  Among those brachos, we have one that perhaps seems a bit out of place: רוקע הארץ על המים/Who spreads out the land on/over the water.  After all, it's nice to have a dry place to walk, but does that compare to the gratitude I have for a working body and vision?  As it turns out, I should; as explained by the R' Rajchenbach, rosh kollel of Kollel Zichron Eliyahu (aka, Peterson Park Kollel).  Your best bet is to listen to the shiur; very distant second is to continue, which I hope will whet your appetite for the real thing.

First... since we have dry land, I don't have to slog to work through even a foot…

Thought for the Day: Hydroponically Grown Humans... I Feel Sick

I am quite openly not at all objective about abortion in particular and the treatment of human embryos and fetuses in general.  I am, after all, the survivor of a failed abortion attempt.  Not "thought about it, but couldn't go through with it"; not "made appointment, but then chickened out at the lost moment"; but, "tried a procedure, but was unsuccessful in attempt to abort".  Nonetheless, I try very hard to listen to the liberal arguments (which I also used to chant as part of the general liberal catechism), and am genuinely empathetic to the plight of women who find themselves in that difficult position.

What I heard on NPR this morning, however, has left me feeling physically ill.  You can read about it, if you like, but here's the bottom line:  Scientists in Cambridge have achieved a new record, they fertilized a human ova and then kept it alive in vitro (that is, in a test tube/petri dish in a laboratory) for 14 days.  The scientist involve…