Did You Know?.........................

by Steven Oppenheimer, D.D.S. There is a custom to eat dairy foods on Shavuot. Before the giving of the Torah, the Jews were permitted to eat non-kosher meat. After the giving of the Torah (on Shavuot), this became forbidden. All their dishes became prohibited, and they could only eat dairy foods. There is a custom to wait up to six hours after eating meat before partaking of dairy. The custom is different regarding meat following dairy. If one drank a glass of milk, he need only rinse out his mouth before partaking of meat (many recite a bracha acharona and wait one half hour in between). One who ate cheese must additionally wash his hands and eat solid food to clean his mouth before eating meat. Why do many people wait up to six hours between meat and milk, but eat meat very soon after having milk? If I have a steak, I have to wait up to six hours before drinking a glass of milk. But if I have a glass of milk, I can have a steak at most half an hour later. Why? We may also ask why some people wait six hours between meat and milk, while others wait three hours and some people only one hour? Common misconception associates the proscribed 6-hour interval to the time required to digest the meat eaten. This is not the accepted rationale. Rashi explains that meat leaves a fatty residue in the throat and palate, and Rambam maintains that particles of meat may remain lodged between the teeth. Once six hours have passed, the fatty residue has dissolved and the meat particles are sufficiently decomposed by the saliva. Dairy foods do not leave a fatty residue in the throat and palate, nor do they remain lodged between the teeth. Thus one need not wait after dairy foods the longer period of time required after meat foods. The Talmud (Chullin 105a) relates that Mar Ukba waited from one meal to another before eating dairy after meat. In those days, people only ate two meals a day. The Talmud (Shabbat 10a) explains that a talmid chacham ate his first meal in the sixth hour (of the day). The Talmud (Yoma 74b) states that blind people, since they can't see their food, eat without becoming satisfied. Therefore, Abaye said, one should only eat a meal in daylight. In a perfect day, the sun rises at 6 AM and sets at 6 PM. Mar Ukba, who was a talmid chacham, ate his first meal at noon and in order to be satisfied, ate his second meal at 6 PM while it was still light. This is the reason for the custom to wait six hours between meat and milk. Not all days, however, contain twelve hours of daylight. In the winter, many countries have only nine hours of daylight. This is the case in Babylonia where Mar Ukba lived. Therefore, when daylight began at 7 AM, Mar Ukba ate his first meal at 1 PM (sixth hour). The second meal must have been eaten at 4 PM. That was when it got dark, and Mar Ukba would have to have eaten his meal before night in accordance with Abaye's statement. We see that there were times when Mar Ukba ate dairy after meat after waiting only three hours. This is the source for the German Jewish custom to wait only three hours. Dutch and Scandinavian Jews follow the custom brought by Rama (Y.D., 89:1) to wait one hour and say a bracha acharona. This is because there are Rishonim who maintain the essential point is not to eat meat and dairy in the same meal. Sorry, you are not allowed to switch to the more lenient custom. People who are ill, nursing women, infants and small children may modify their custom on the advice of a Rabbi. Ask our Rabbi if you have any questions.

.....…And Now You Know