June 18, 2024
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Dairy French Toast Using Leftover Challah From Shabbat

Rav Ari Marcus vs. Rav Haim Jachter

It is a decades-long tradition in many American Orthodox families. Sunday morning breakfast consists of dairy French toast using leftover challah from Shabbat. Rav Ari Marcus, in his magnificent compendium “Halacha 24/7/12” (page 384), though, discourages this practice. However, one can easily defend this common practice among observant Jews.

The Basis to Be Stringent

Rav Marcus is supported by the Aruch Hashulchan (Yoreh Deah 89:15), who writes that it is a mitzvah min hamuvchar (preferable) to refrain from using bread with dairy if it was on a table together with meat. The Aruch Hashulchan adds that this is the accepted practice in most Jewish communities. The Darkei Teshuvah (89:50) cites the Vikuach Mayim Chaim (77:7), who agrees with the Aruch Hashulchan. Perhaps the standard practice in Israel is to be strict, and Rav Marcus (who resides in Israel) writes per Israeli practice.

The Basis to Be Lenient

By contrast, Rav Moshe Feinstein (Teshuvot Igrot Moshe Yoreh Deah 1:38) adopts a more lenient approach. Based on the Haghot Oshri (to the Rosh, Chullin 8:7; citing the Or Zaru’a), Rav Moshe distinguishes between slices of bread and unsliced bread. Sliced bread that was on a table where meat was served should not be eaten with dairy (and vice versa). By contrast, unsliced bread that was on a table where meat was served may be eaten with dairy.

The difference is that people intend the unsliced bread for long-term use, and observant adults of sound mind therefore make sure to maintain its neutral (pareve) status. By contrast, people intend sliced bread for use at the meal and people are not mindful to keep it pareve.

Significantly, while Rav Moshe notes that it is ideal to adopt a strict approach even with regard to unsliced bread (as stated in the Haghot Oshri), he does not mention a custom to follow the more stringent path. Rav Feivel Cohen (Badei Hashulchan 89:99) rules following Rav Moshe. Yalkut Yosef (Issur V’Heter 3:449) also adopts Rav Moshe’s approach, except that he omits mention of a preference to be strict for the uncut bread.

Two Notes of Caution

Rav Feivel Cohen, however, notes two words of caution. First, he notes that one may not eat dairy sliced bread that was on a table with meat, even if one is sure in retrospect that the slice of bread never came in contact with meat. This ruling is an application of the important rule of כל מילתא דלא רמיא לאו אדעתיה (Shavuot 42a). This phrase means that we cannot reconstruct a past occurrence unless one was mindful of the matter at hand at the time of the incident. The reason for this is that our minds tend to reconstruct past events “in our favor.” An exception would be if one were mindful to keep the sliced bread pareve during the meat meal.

The second note of caution is that if very young children were at the table, one is not permitted to assume that they kept the unsliced bread pareve. The same would apply if people who are not of sound mind or people who are not observant of halacha were at the meal.

A Suggested Compromise

While it is best to follow the stricter view, baseline halacha endorses common practice to enjoy dairy French toast made from leftover challah from Shabbat. A reasonable compromise approach is to refrain from adding milk to the egg batter when making the French toast but to permit making it using clean dairy equipment. This compromise is what we follow in the Jachter home.

Rabbi Haim Jachter is the spiritual leader of Congregation Shaarei Orah, the Sephardic Congregation of Teaneck. He also serves as a rebbe at Torah Academy of Bergen County and a dayan on the Beth Din of Elizabeth.

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