Cooking pareve food in a dairy pot for consumption in a meat meal (or vice versa) Rabbanit Chanital Ofan
Shevat 5782 | January 2022נושאים: Kashrut
I cooked a gefilte fish in a dairy pot, although I’m not sure whether the pot was used for cooking dairy in the last 24 hours (the halakhic category of ben yomo). Can I serve the fish on meat dishes?
This question precisely is actually discussed in the Gemara. Hullin 111b addresses the case of fish cooked in a meat pot, and asks whether it can be eaten with kotah – a dairy mixture of milk and breadcrumbs or barley flour. Rav prohibited the fish for consumption, but Shmuel allowed it. According to Rav, the fish absorbed flavor from the meat pot, whereas according to Shmuel the flavor transferred is too weak to be of any concern. The term used in the context of this discussion is נותן טעם בר נותן טעם (noten ta’am bar noten ta’am, commonly referred to with the abbreviated nat bar nat), indicating ‘secondary taste’ – food that absorbed the taste indirectly from the pot, and not directly from the meat. The Gemara accepts Shmuel’s position, and concludes: “fish cooked in a meat pot may be eaten with kotah.” It is important to note that the nat bar nat rule only applies to the prohibition of mixing meat and dairy, since each of the components independently is kosher, and not inherently prohibited. The weak flavor absorbed into the fish from the meat pot also does not create any prohibition, since the fish is pareve (Rashi s.v. נ”ט בר נ”ט). Arukh ha-Shulhan, citing the Ran, states that the secondary flavor cannot create a prohibition when it is not inherently prohibited. Conversely, this rule would never apply in the case of a non-kosher pot, since the initial flavor (even if weak) absorbed would render the fish prohibited for consumption.
Rishonim debated the applicability of the Gemara’s allowance on several levels:
To what is the Gemara referring when it discusses cooking in a pot (using the unusual phrase עלו בקערה)? Does this apply equally to cooking, roasting and baking, or only to boiling in water?
Is this allowance a prioiri (lechatchila) – that is, can fish be cooked in a meat pot with the intention of serving it with dairy, or only post factum (be-dieved) – whereby in the event that fish was already cooked in a meat pot (without intention of serving it with dairy) – it can still be served with dairy?
Does the leniency also apply to a pot that was used in the last 24 hours (not ben yomo)?
Three approaches to this sugya can be found in the Rishonim:
According to the Rambam, Rashba, Ran, Rabbenu Tam, RY, Raavia, Rashi, and others, the Gemara’s allowance is lechatchila, and no distinction should be made between cooking and roasting: in all cases of a pareve dish cooked in a meat pot, the food may be consumed with dairy. The Ran and Raavia explain that had there been a distinction between roasting and cooking, Rav would have noted that this was the case; the Gemara used cooking as an example, and there is no reason to assume roasting is in a different category. According to Ran and Raavia, Shmuel’s allowance applies to both cooking and roasting. According to the Ran, the case description emphasizes that flavor is transferred twice (from the meat to the dish, and from the dish to the fish) – in which case certainly the allowance should apply to roasting as well.
Rivan understands based on Rashi that the term עלו is deliberate, indicating that food placed in a meat dish may be eaten with dairy – but if the food was cooked or roasted this would not be the case. It is important to emphasize that this is a restriction for a dish that was used in the last 24 hours (ben yomo). If the pot was not used in the last 24 hours, it is considered noten ta’am lifgam (imparts a foul taste), and in this case the food may be consumed with dairy bedieved. Tosfot cites the Rivan’s ruling and reinforces his position based on the prohibition to eat radishes cut with a meat knife together with dairy. Rivan argues that this is an application of nat bar nat in the case of cutting a spicy vegetable, which cannot possibly be a more stringent case than cooking.
Sefer ha-Teruma, Rosh, Semak, and Semag, offer an offshoot of the Rivan’s approach. They distinguish between roasting, in which direct flavor is transferred from the pot, and cooking, where the transfer of flavor includes three stages: from the dish to the water; from the water to the pareve food; and from the pareve food to the dairy food. Therefore, the allowance only applies to the case of cooking, but fish roasted in a dry meat pot cannot be eaten with dairy. Rivan may adopt this approach and only prohibit when the fish was roasted in a pot, but when cooked in water it should be permitted to be eaten with milk/dairy according to all approaches.
The provision of kli she’eino ben yomo (a dish that was not used in the last 24 hours)
We can expand on the Rivan’s approach, which the Rema adopts in practice, at least lechatchila. The Mordechai cites the Rivan (in the name of Tosfot Shanz) and adds that when the food was cooked in water it should be obvious that it can be eaten with dairy, since there are three levels of separation in the transfer of flavor (the flavor from the pot, the flavor from the water, and the flavor from the fish). According to the Mordechai only two main approaches exist: the Rambam and his school of thought who permit nat-bar-nat in all instances, or the Rivan and his school of thought who limit this allowance.
On a practical plane there are two approaches among poskim regarding the status of food cooked in water (referred to as טעם שלישי). There is a general agreement that this food may be eaten with dairy, but poskim disagree whether this allowance is lechatchila or bedieved. Semak argues that the Rivan’s allowance only applies after the fact; conversely, Sefer ha-Teruma and others believe food may be cooked in water in a meat pot lechatchila for consumption with dairy. Yam Shel Shlomo cites the Sefer ha-Teruma but testifies that it is customary to be stringent with regard to a ben yomo dish used in the last 24 hours, in accordance with Semak. According to Ohalei Yehuda there are two parts to this debate: Sefer ha-Teruma believes food cooked in water is permissible lechatchila even in a ben yomo dish, while the Semak holds that this is only permitted bedieved even in a dish that was not used in the last 24 hours. Maharshal ruled according to Semak that since the custom is to be stringent there should be no distinction between ben yomo and a dish that was not used in the last 24 hours, even when cooking with water.
Even according to the more stringent approach, in which the food may not be consumed with dairy – the food itself is not meat in status – and certainly one may subsequently eat dairy.
The Shulhan Arukh (95:1-2) rules that fish cooked in a clean meat pot that was used in the last 24 hours (i.e. ben yomo) may be eaten with dairy, since there is no actual meat in the food.
Poskim debate whether the Shulhan Arukh intended to permit cooking pareve food that will be served with dairy in a meat pot lechatchila, or whether the leniency was bedieved, referring to food cooked in a meat pot without intention to serve it with dairy.
According to R. Yosef Karo’s Bedek Habayit, it seems clear that his intention was to permit cooking the fish in a meat pot lechatchila. However, the simple reading of the Shulhan Arukh seems to indicate that the leniency is bedieved, and there is a contradiction between what he wrote in Bedek Habayit and his practical ruling in the Shulhan Arukh. This understanding is cited by the Shakh, and the Pri Hadash. The Taz understands the Semak’s ruling as prohibiting cooking the fish in the meat pot lechatchila; however, if the fish was cooked in a meat pot, it may be eaten with dairy bedieved.
Responsa Beit David argued that most Rishonim read the sugya as lechatchila, and that this is the correct reading of the Shulhan Arukh. This is the ruling of R. Ovadia, and Responsa Chut Hameshulash, who understand the Shulhan Arukh as a quote of the Gemara (and it therefore cannot be inferred from his formulation that his ruling was bedieved). Other Sephardic poskim, including the Ben Ish Hai, Kaf ha-Haim, and R. Mashash, ruled that the Shulhan Arukh’s leniency only applies bedieved. In other words, practically one may not cook pareve food intended for eating with dairy in a meat pot – but once it has been cooked in a meat pot, it can be eaten with dairy.
The Rema (paragraph 2) differentiates between a pot which was not used in the last 24 hours, which can be used lechatchila for cooking pareve food to be eaten with dairy, and a pot that is ben yomo, which cannot be used for cooking or roasting food intended to be eaten with dairy (based on Rivan in the name of Rashi and ha-Arokh 34, Tosfot Shanz in the Mordechai, and the Or Zarua); however, bedieved Rema permits eating the food with dairy (as per Sefer Hateruma), similar to the ruling of the Shulhan Arukh.
Eating pareve food cooked in a meat pot on dairy dishes (and vice versa)
This discussion focused on the question of eating food cooked in a dairy pot with meat (and vice versa). However, the question was whether the food can be served on meat dishes. Based on the Shulhan Arukh, who allows food cooked in a meat pot to be eaten with dairy, there is no doubt it can be served in a dairy dish. But what is the answer according to the ruling of the Rema and Ashkenazi poskim?
The Bah addresses this situation directly, and asks whether pareve food cooked in a dairy pot may be placed in a meat dish when the intention is to serve it in a meat dish, and permits this lechatchila. The Rema rules like the Bah that this is permissible. The Pri Hadash infers from the formulation of the Gemara that the allowance to eat fish cooked in a meat pot with dairy is bedieved – but it may be placed in a dairy dish lechatchila. The Hochmat Adam mitigates this allowance to a ‘time of great need.’ However, the Darkei Teshuva is lenient based on the Rema’s comment that this is common practice. The Taz and the Sakh rule based on the Rema.
In conclusion, there is a general agreement that gefilte fish cooked in a dairy pot can be eaten in a meat dish. According to the Shulhan Arukh, since the pareve food may be eaten together with meat, obviously it may be served on a meat dish. Even according to the more stringent approaches adopted by the Rema, the pareve food could be eaten with meat bedieved, and on a meat dish lechatchila.
In your question you note that you were unsure whether the pot was used in the last 24 hours. Generally speaking, we follow the rule that assumes pots have not been used in the last 24 hours unless we know otherwise.
There is a general agreement that pareve food cooked in a dairy pot that was not used in the last 24 hours (i.e. not ben yomo) may be eaten with meat, and certainly served on a meat dish. Therefore, you may serve your gefilte fish on meat dishes – especially if served cold (which adds an additional level of leniency), but even if served warm.