April 23, 2024
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April 23, 2024
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Must We Wait Six Hours After Eating Pareve at a Meat Establishment?

A Clarification

Our question is very commonly posed, especially by teenagers. At TABC, I am often asked, “I just ate french fries at Chickie’s; may I now have ice cream?” Before launching our discussion, we clarify that one may not eat pareve items prepared in a meat establishment together with dairy. One must wash and clean his mouth between such pareve items and dairy as between dairy and meat or fish and meat.

For simplicity’s sake, I refer to the separation between dairy and meat as a six-hour wait, since it is the practice of Sephardim and most Ashkenazim.


Category No. One —
Clean Meat Equipment

We address three variations of our question. The first is the easiest to handle. If one ate a pareve item made with meat equipment, he is not required to wait six hours. To clarify, we speak of equipment used to prepare meat but contain not a trace of actual meat. Sephardic Jews may eat such food with dairy. However, Ashkenazic Jews refrain from eating this pareve item if the equipment cooked meat within 24 hours.

However, even if an Ashkenazic Jew eats a pareve item made using clean meat equipment, he does not have to wait six hours (Rama Yoreh Deah 89:3, Shach Yoreh Deah 89:19, and Rabbi Akiva Eiger Yoreh Deah 89:3 s.v D’havi Nat bar Nat). Let us explain why:

The Rishonim give two reasons for prohibiting eating dairy after eating meat. First, Rashi (Chullin 105a s.v. Chasa) explains that meat has a strong taste that lingers in the mouth. Second, Rambam (Hilchot Maachalot Asurot 9:28) explains the concern is for meat lodged between one’s teeth. The Shach (Yoreh Deah 89:2), Taz (Yoreh Deah 89:1) and Kaf Hachaim (Yoreh Deah 87:2) follow both Rashi and the Ramban.

Accordingly, although Ashkenazic Jews do not eat pareve food made in meat equipment with dairy, they need not wait six hours. The reasons for the waiting do not apply. The taste does not linger, and there is no meat between the teeth. Therefore, there is no need to wait six hours.


Category No. Two —
Bits of Meat in the Pareve Item

Pareve items made in a meat establishment often contain tiny bits of meat. This happens because staff at a meat place are (rightfully so) not particular about strictly maintaining pareve items. Accordingly, we must assume pareve items at a meat establishment contain some meat bits. Therefore, even Sephardic Jews may not eat such pareve food with dairy. We must clean and wash our mouths after eating such pareve food before eating dairy.

However, the Shach (ad locum) surprisingly states that if we do not have to wait six hours after eating such pareve foods. The reasons for waiting six hours do not apply to tiny bits of meat. The taste does not linger, and there is little chance of meat being caught between teeth. The Chochmat Adam (40:13), Aruch Hashulchan (Yoreh Deah 87:13), and the Kaf HaChaim (Yoreh Deah 87:59) codify the Shach.

Therefore, such pareve items made at a meat place do not require a six-hour wait. At TABC, if a student asks me if he can drink milk after eating rice or noodles prepared at Chopstix, I respond that it is permissible after he washes and cleans his mouth.


Category No. Three — French Fries Made in the Oil Used to Fry Chicken

The situation needing the most clarification is french fries made in oil used to fry chicken. The store deliberately prepares the fries in the same oil since such “chickeny oil” enhances the fries’ taste.

Even in this case, the reasons for waiting six hours do not apply. While the fries absorb the chicken taste and may not be eaten with dairy, one generally does not find significant chicken pieces in the fries. Indeed, the Shulchan Aruch (Y.D. 89:3) does not require a six-hour wait for a “tavshil shel basar,” which will now translate as “a pareve item cooked with meat.” However, the Rama (ad locum) adds that Ashkenazic Jews customarily refrain from dairy even after a tavshil shel basar. The Kaf HaChaim (Yoreh Deah 87:55) codifies the Chida that Sephardic Jews have also adopted this custom.

Accordingly, by custom, we should wait six hours after eating fries prepared in oil used to fry chicken. However, there is room to argue that the six-hour wait is unnecessary. The question depends on how one understands “tavshil shel basar.” The Badei HaShulchan (87:77) translates it as we did, a pareve item cooked together with meat. According to the Badei Hashulchan, one unquestionably must wait six hours after eating french fries made in oil used to fry chicken. However, one could translate ”tavshil shel basar” as “clear meat or chicken broth.”

According to the second possibility, we customarily wait six hours after chicken soup — even if we do not eat chicken pieces. We wait six hours after chicken soup, even though the reasons to wait do not apply. We wait to avoid confusion, as people find it difficult to distinguish between chicken and chicken soup.

However, one could argue that we do not confuse fries made in oil containing chicken bits and actual chicken. Arguably, such fries are not classified as tavshil shel basar and do not require a six-hour wait. Chicken is the dominant ingredient in chicken soup, but is secondary even in fries made in the same oil as chicken.


When addressing this topic with Shaarei Orah congregant, Shalom Shushan, TABC student, J.J. Guralnik, and my older son, Binyamin, they responded that intuitively a six-hour wait is necessary after fries prepared in oil used to fry chicken. In addition, Rav Zvi Sobolofsky told me that although one could argue that a six-hour wait is not necessary after such fries, it is nonetheless proper to wait six hours. We must respect the intuition that something feels halachically improper.

The bottom line is, although we can make a compelling argument that a six-hour wait is not necessary after eating fries made in oil used to fry chicken — it is best to be strict and wait the six hours.

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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