(c) 2000 Dr Hendel; 1st appeared in Torah Forum (c) Project Genesis

Date: Thu, 27 Aug 1998 20:29:30 -0400
From: rhendel@mcs.drexel.edu (Russell Hendel)
Subject: Re: Milk and Meat

Alexandre Bitton asks:
<  <  What is the source for not eating milk and meat together>  >

The source is rabbinic.  Bibically we are prohibited to COOK meat in the
milk of its mother (Ex 23:19, 34:26, Dt 14:21).  The Rabbis prohibited
EATING milk and meat as a fence lest one come to cook milk and meat.

Perhaps a little clarification of WHY the rabbis erected a fence is in
order. We have to first explain two types of actions. We do so with a
simple illustration. If I say want to go to the store:  I have to
consciously think and e.g. go to the door and go outside. But after that my
example, I could talk as I walk; this shows that I do not need extra
thought to walk.

So we have the idea of "conscious activity" and "automatically continued
activity".  We also have a TEST for AUTOMATICALLY CONTINUED ACTIVITY--the
TALK TEST.  If you can do the activity and carry on a conversation you
probably did not require much thought.

The simple rule of making rabbinic fences is as follows: Whenever the Torah
prohibited a conscious activity the Rabbis prohibited all automatically
continued activities that go along with it, EVEN if these automatic
activities are complicated and EVEN if they don't follow immediately or

EXAMPLES: *) Don't rinse a rag on Shabbath because you might wring it *)
Don't read a Megillah on Shabbath because you might walk next door and ask
the proper cantillation or pronunciation *) Don't eat milk and meat since
you might dump them together in the microwave to warm them

All these actions, however complicated, are automatic in the sense that
they pass the "talk test" and can absent mindedly be done.

Russell Jay Hendel; Phd. ASA