By Israel Drazin
The Torah has no rule forbidding mixing meat and milk products, but the rabbis introduced the law saying that mixing meat and milk makes both foods not kosher. Jews are told they can eat meat products after cleaning their mouths of milk products, but must wait before they can eat dairy after meat. Communities differ on how long to wait. Some wait an hour, others three hours, and still others six hours. The later say it takes six hours before the body can digest meat products.
The rabbis base their rule on the three-times that the Torah prohibits boiling a kid in its mother’s milk, such as Exodus 23:19. In his Gide of the Perplexed 3:48, where he gives reasons for Torah commands, Maimonides explains that the practice was prohibited, as were many similar ones, because: “it was somehow connected with idolatry, forming part of the service, or being used on some festival of the heathens.” He recognized that the law has nothing to do with kosher, although he explained that the rabbis used it as a jump-off point for their law against mixing meat and milk.
One of the details of this rabbinic rule is that dishes that absorb liquids, such as dishes made from clay, cannot be used for both meat and dairy because foods are absorbed in the pores of utensils and people who eat from earthenware plates used previously for dairy, retains dairy products in its pores and eating meat from the dish would violate the rule against mixing the products. Similarly, one may not eat from porous utensils that previously held non-kosher food. However, most Orthodox rabbis recognized that glass does not have pores, when a glass utensil is washed all the foods that were in it are gone, and Jews can then use a dairy glass dish for meat, and vice versa, as well as a glass dish previously holding non-kosher foods. Now that rule has been extended to stainless steel products.
The Israeli newspaper that announced the news called it a “turnabout from within” Orthodoxy. It is not a Reform teaching. Rabbi Dov Lior, the Chief Rabbi of Hebron and Kiryat Arba in the southern part of Israel, Rosh Yeshiva (head master) of Yeshiva Kiryat Arba, and head of the “Council of Rabbis of Judea and Samaria,” consulted with scientists and they assured him that stainless steel utensils are not porous. Thus one may use stainless steel knives, spoons, forks, pots, and pans interchangeably for dairy and meat products, even items that previously held non-kosher foods, with only a good cleaning in between the various uses. The newspaper reporting this decision stated that Rabbi Lior is far from being a liberal rabbi and his finding fits with strict halakhah, Jewish law. It also stated that Rabbi Yair Frank, Rabbi of Amona in Samaria, Israel, has already endorsed Rabbi Lior’s finding.