April 17, 2024
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Dairy/Meat Equipment—Not a Sephardic Concern!

The Gemara (Hullin 111b) records a dispute between Rav and Shmuel regarding the following case: Hot fish was placed on a meat plate (a plate that had hot meat placed on it, thereby causing “meat taste particles” to be absorbed into the plate). These Amoraim debate whether it is permissible to subsequently eat the fish with dairy. Rav rules that it is forbidden to do so, but Shmuel rules that it is permissible.

Rav believes that it is forbidden because the fish absorbed a meat taste. Shmuel believes it is permissible because the fish is two steps removed from the meat; first the meat is absorbed in the plate and then the meat in the plate is transferred to the fish. The connection between the fish and the meat is too remote to create a prohibited mixture of meat and dairy if dairy is subsequently introduced into this fish. This situation is referred to by the Talmud as “nat bar nat,” a second-generation transfer of taste particles. Nat bar nat is an acronym that stands for notein taam bar notein taam, which literally means “the transfer of taste, the son of the transfer of taste.” After citing a number of incidents that support the view of Shmuel, the Gemara concludes that the halacha follows the view of Shmuel.

Rishonim—The Scope of the Nat bar Nat Leniency

Rishonim debate the scope of the applicability of the rule of nat bar nat. The Rivan (cited in Tosafot Chulin 111b s.v. Hilchata) cites the opinion of his great father-in-law, Rashi, who limits the applicability of the nat bar nat leniency. He relates that Rashi believed that only fish placed on a meat plate is considered nat bar nat, since only a small amount of meat taste is absorbed into the fish. However, if fish is cooked in a meat pot, then the fish is not neutral (pareve) even according to Shmuel. This is because the fish has absorbed a great deal of “meat taste” from the meat pot. Rivan relates that once someone asked Rashi if an egg that was cooked in a dairy pot can be cooked with meat, and Rashi replied in the negative.

Tosafot, however, notes that a different impression is gleaned from Rashi’s (s.v. nat bar nat) commentary to the Gemara in Hullin 111b. Rashi explains that the fish attains the status of being “meaty” only if it is cooked with actual meat. Rashi clearly implies that if the fish is only cooked in a meat pot, then the fish remains neutral. Indeed, Rashi’s grandson, Rabbeinu Tam, and his great-grandson, the Ri, both believe that the nat bar nat rule applies even in a case of cooking, so that even if the neutral item was cooked in a meat or dairy pot, the cooked item remains neutral (see Hagahot Ashri, Hullin 8:29).

Shulhan Aruch

Maran Rav Yosef Karo, in his Beit Yosef (chapter 95 s.v. Dagim) cites many Rishonim (including Rashba, Ran, Ravya) who subscribe to the most lenient opinion, that neutral food cooked or even roasted in a meat or dairy pot is still considered neutral. Indeed, in the Shulhan Aruch (Yoreh Deah 95:2), Maran rules according to the most lenient opinion that the nat bar nat leniency applies even to neutral food cooked or roasted in a meat or dairy pot. The Rama thereupon notes that the Ashkenazic practice is to initially (lechatchila) be concerned with the strict opinion. That means, for instance, Ashkenazim should not place a neutral item cooked in a meat pot with dairy foods. If, however, the neutral food happened to have been mixed with dairy food (i.e., bidieved), the Rama records the Ashkenazi practice to follow the lenient view.

The Sephardic practice regarding this issue is dramatically more lenient than the Ashkenazic practice. In fact, Hacham Ovadia Yosef (see Yalkut Yosef p. 844 in the 5760 edition) and Rav Shlomo Amar (Teshuvot Shamah Shlomo 2:Y.D. 4 and 6), permit Sephardim to cook a neutral item in a meat pot even if one intends to eat the neutral item with milk and even if the meat pot had been used for meat within the previous 24 hours (or vice versa regarding cooking a neutral item in a milk pot for use with meat). Rav Shalom Messas (popularly known as Ribi Shalom; Teshuvot Shemesh U’Magen 1:8, 2:42-43, and 3:1), though, rules that even according to Rav Yosef Karo, one may not cook a neutral item in a meat pot that has been used within 24 hours if one intends to eat the neutral item with milk. He believes (following the Shach Y.D. 95:3) that the Shulhan Aruch differs with the Rama only regarding a neutral item that was cooked in a meat pot with the intention of using it with only meat or neutral, that one may later decide to eat the neutral item with milk.

Rav Amar and Rav Messas engaged in an intense debate about this issue with repeated letters back and forth defending their respective positions. Rav Amar retreats somewhat and acknowledges that it is best to adopt Rav Messas’ opinion. Hacham Yitzhak Yosef in his Yalkut Yosef firmly remains fully supportive of his father’s lenient view, noting that Maran explicitly supports this view in his Bedek HaBayit.

Conclusion

In a shiur delivered at Congregation Shaarei Orah, the Sephardic Congregation of Teaneck, I recommended that Moroccan Jews follow the ruling of Ribi Shalom. Other Sephardic Jews, however, may follow Hacham Ovadia’s to the full extent. Thus, the issue of dairy or meat equipment to a great extent is a non-issue for Sephardic Jews.

By Rabbi Haim Jachter Talmudic Background—Disagreement Between Rav and Shmuel

Rabbi Haim Jachter is rabbi of Congregation Shaarei Orah, the Sephardic Congregation of Teaneck.

 

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