A discussion of Halachic topics related to the Parsha of the
week. For final rulings, consult your Rav.
SELECTED HALACHOS RELATING TO PARSHAS KI SISA
DAIRY AFTER MEAT: HOW LONG A WAIT?
In the written Torah, the only mention of meat and dairy, basar b'chalav, is
the prohibition against cooking them together. Nevertheless, the Oral Law
teaches us that eating meat and milk which were cooked together, is also
prohibited. Our Sages, who were always concerned lest prohibitions be
transgressed inadvertently, protected us by establishing "fences" (seyagim)
around various prohibitions. In this case, th Rabbis prohibited eating dairy
foods even after eating meat. It is well-known that the taste of meat
lingers in one's mouth long after it has been consumed, since a film of
fatty residue remains in the throat and on the palate long after the meat
has been swallowed(1). In addition, actual pieces of meat can be stuck
between the teeth after meat has been eaten(2). For these two reasons, our
Sages ordained that two things must happen before dairy can be eaten after
meat: 1) Birkas ha-Mazon [or berachah acharonah) over the meat meal must be
said(3); 2) A substantial amount of time must elapse(4).
HOW MUCH TIME MUST ELAPSE BEFORE DAIRY CAN BE EATEN AFTER MEAT?
Almost universally, the custom is to wait six hours before eating dairy
after meat(5). Although there are a few communities which follow other, more
lenient customs [Dutch Jews wait one hour; German Jews wait three hours(6)],
these customs apply only to those who are born into the tradition. One who
abandons his custom to adopt a more lenient one is described by the poskim
as a poreitz gader(7), a "fence-breaker", and as one who transgresses the
exhortation, "Al titosh Toras imecha(8) - Do not forsake the teachings of
In the opinion of most halachic authorities(10), "six hours" means six full
hours. This is the custom practiced by most people. Some poskim are reported
to have ruled, however, that five-and-a-half hours is sufficient(11). Other
poskim permit this leniency only after eating fowl, but certainly not after
There is a view that states that the six hours are measured from Birkas
ha-Mazon of the meat meal [even if no meat was consumed towards the end of
the meal] until the beginning of the dairy meal [even if no dairy will be
eaten at the beginning of the meal](13). Contemporary poskim do not agree
with this ruling, however. In their opinion, the six hours are measured from
the cessation of eating meat - not from the end of the meal - until the
actual consumption of dairy - not the beginning of the dairy meal(14).
WHEN DOES ONE NOT NEED TO WAIT SIX HOURS?
There is a dispute among earlier poskim at to whether one who merely
chews meat but does not swallow it must wait six hours before eating dairy.
Some poskim rule that in this case, a one-hour interlude is sufficient(15).
Other poskim do not agree(16). The contemporary poskim who do agree with
this leniency require that one rinse(17) and clean(18) his mouth and brush
and pick his teeth(19). But one who only tasted meat with his tongue - and
immediately removed the meat from his mouth - need not wait six hours(20).
It is permitted to eat or drink dairy immediately after swallowing or
chewing a meat vitamin(21).
If one is in doubt whether or not six hours elapsed since he ate meat, he
is permitted to eat dairy(22).
One who finds meat still lodged between his teeth after six hours must
remove it and clean(23) or rinse(24) his mouth before eating dairy. Some
poskim require both procedures - cleaning and rinsing(25). One need not,
however, wait six hours from the time meat was found lodged between his
teeth before eating dairy(26).
If one swallowed meat without chewing it, he must still wait six hours
before eating dairy(27).
A weak or sick person, a pregnant woman, a nursing mother or a child
between the ages of three and nine who needs dairy food for strength or
nourishment(28) is not required to wait six hours between meat and
dairy(29). Waiting time of one hour is sufficient(30), provided that the
person follows this procedure before eating dairy(31): He/she recites Birkas
ha-Mazon (or berachah acharonah) over the meat meal, brushes well his/her
teeth, rinses and cleans his/her mouth, and washes his/her hands before
Infants till age three do not need to wait at all between meat and
dairy(32). Healthy children over the age of nine [or ten if they are
physically underdeveloped] should wait six hours between meat and dairy(33).
Parve food that was cooked together with meat, such as a potato cooked in
a meaty cholent or rice cooked in a pot together with chicken, is considered
like meat; six hours must elapse before dairy may be eaten(34).
The poskim debate(35) what the correct course of action should be in case
one forgot that he is within six hours of eating meat and made a blessing
over a dairy item. Some maintain that he should eat a minuscule amount of
the dairy item so that his blessing is not l'vatalah, while others do not
allow this; rather, they say that baruch sheim kevod malechuso l'olam va'ed
should be said(36) instead(37). If there is still some meat in his mouth or
between his teeth, he surely may not eat any dairy food.
AFTER EATING PARVE FOOD COOKED IN A MEAT POT OR CUT WITH A MEAT KNIFE, DOES
ONE NEED TO WAIT SIX HOURS TO EAT DAIRY?
Parve food that was cooked in a meat pot [but without any meat in the pot,
such as fish cooked in a meat pot] does not require a wait of six hours
before dairy may be eaten(38). The halachah remains the same even if the
food cooked in the meat pot was cooked with onions or other "sharp"
foods(39). [Note that our discussion here applies only to dairy food eaten
after parve food, not together with it.]
AFTER EATING MEAT, DOES ONE NEED TO WAIT SIX HOURS TO EAT PARVE FOOD THAT
WAS COOKED IN A DAIRY POT OR CUT WITH A DAIRY KNIFE?
This answer depends on the type of parve food that was cooked in the dairy
pot: Regular parve foods may be eaten immediately after eating meat, and
even l'chatchilah one may plan to eat such a parve food for dessert at a
meat meal(40). Sharp parve foods [e.g., radishes or fish cooked with onions]
that were cooked in a dairy pot may not be eaten until six hours have
elapsed after eating meat(41). Some poskim(42) are lenient if the dairy pot
was not used for cooking dairy in the preceding twenty-four hours, while
others(43) are stringent even in that case.
1 This is the reason given by Rashi (Chulin 105a, quoted in Tur Y.D. 89) in
explanation of this halachah.
2 This is the reason given by Rambam (Ma'achalos Assuros 9:28, quoted in Tur
Y.D. 89) in explanation of this halachah.
4 Hard cheese has the same rules as meat - that means that if one ate hard
cheese he may not eat meat for six hours. In the United States today,
however, it is difficult to find "hard" cheese, since hard cheese means that
it was allowed to process for six months before it was packaged and
refrigerated. Once the processing of the cheese has ended, the cheese does
not become "hard" even if it is in stock six months later (written responsum
from Harav Y. Belsky).
5 Sephardic Jews are required to wait six hours between meat and dairy. For
them it is not a matter of custom.
6 See Chayei Adam 127:10 who quotes a custom of those who wait only "several
7 Aruch ha-Shulchan Y.D. 89:7. See Koheles 10:8 and Rashi.
8 Mishlei 1:8. See Rashi.
9 Chochmas Adam 40:13.
10 See Darkei Teshuvah 89:6 quoting Gan ha-Melech and Chamudei Daniyel. Many
poskim also refer to this time period as a "quarter of the day and night"
(see Shiyurei Berachah 89:4), which means that six hours is exact.
11 Ruling of Harav A. Kotler, as repeated by his family and disciples.
Nishmas Avraham Y.D. 89:1 quotes some poskim who required a wait of a little
more than five hours. Practical Guide to Halachah, vol. 2, pg. 133, quotes
Harav M. Feinstein as ruling that "in an emergency, maybe fifteen minutes
before six hours, but not earlier."
12 Yabia Omer Y.D. 1:4-13.
13 Aruch ha-Shulchan 89:4.
14 Badei ha-Shulchan 89:7; Pischei Halachah, The Laws of Kashrus, pg. 201.
15 R' Akiva Eiger Y.D. 89:1.
16 Pri Megadim M.Z. 89:1; Shiyurei Berachah 89:12; Pischei Teshuvah 89:1.
Chochmas Adam 40:13 and Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 46:9 seem to agree.
17 Rinsing means to wash out the mouth with water or to take a drink of
water or any other beverage.
18 Cleaning the mouth is done by eating a bulky parve food and chewing it
throughly - Rama 89:2.
19 Yad Yehudah 89:1, quoted in Darkei Teshuvah 89:22 and Badei ha-Shulchan
89:38. See also Aruch ha-Shulchan 89:4.
20 R' Shlomo Kluger, quoted in Darkei Teshuvah 89:22 and Badei ha-Shulchan
25 Shach 89:2; Chochmas Adam 40:12; Aruch ha-Shulchan 89:5.
26 Shach 89:2 and all poskim.
27 Badei ha-Shulchan 89:17 based on Igros Moshe Y.D. 2:26.
28 Even if meat food is available but the person does not like it or is not
in the mood for it - Chelkas Yaakov 2:88; Badei ha-Shulchan 89:37.
29 Entire paragraph based on Chochmas Adam 40:13; Aruch ha-Shulchan 89:7;
Salmas Chayim 2:4; Chelkas Yaakov 2:88; Yechaveh Da'as 3:58; Badei
30 In case of need, such a person may eat dairy even without waiting an
hour, although l'chatchilah one should plan not to rely on this leniency -
Badei ha-Shulchan 89:36.
31 Hataras nedarim is not required in this case - see Dagul Mi-revavah Y.D.
214, and Mishnah Berurah 581:19 and Sha'ar ha-Tziyon 33. Chochmas Adam and
Aruch ha-Shulchan also do not mention that hataras nedarim is required. See
also Nishmas Avraham Y.D. 89:1 quoting Harav S.Z. Auerbach.
32 Obviously, if there is no reason at all to feed the child dairy after
meat, it should not be done, since it is forbidden to feed prohibited items
to anyone, even to an infant - Mishnah Berurah 343:3.
33 Chelkas Yaakov 2:88; Yechaveh Da'as 3:58 (who is lenient with children
until a year before they are bar/bas mitzvah); Badei ha-Shulchan 89:37.
34 Rama 89:3. According to many poskim (Maharshal quoted by R' Akiva Eiger,
Yad Yehudah, Kaf ha-Chayim) the custom is not to eat even a parve food
cooked together with dairy after a parve food cooked together with meat.
Other poskim (Chochmas Adam, Aruch ha-Shulchan) do not mention this custom.
35 There are various views among the poskim about this issue and they are
quoted at length in Yabia Omer Y.D. 2:5 and Yechaveh Da'as 4:41.
36 Mishnah Berurah 515:5 (concerning eating muktzeh) rules that one may not
eat a prohibited item even if a blessing was made over it.
37 Levushei Mordechai Y.D. 2:167.
38 Rama 89:3. Sometimes, if a meat pot is not scrubbed clean, a fatty
residue of meat remains on the pot. Most poskim (Shach 89:19, Chochmas Adam
40:13, Aruch ha-Shulchan 89:13, Darkei Teshuvah 89:42) allow parve food
cooked in such a pot to be eaten before dairy, especially if the parve food
was sixty times greater in quantity than the fatty residue of meat on the
39 R' Akiva Eiger and Beis Meir quoted in Darkei Teshuvah 89:42.
40 Tuv Ta'am Va-da'as 3:183 and Mishmeres Shalom 69:19 quoted in Darkei
Teshuvah 89:42 and Badei ha-Shulchan 89:90.