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Shabbat Parashat Korach| 5770
Ask the Rabbi: Rinsing After Eating Pareve Food Cooked in Fleishig Pot
Question: I know that if one eats milchig (dairy food), he has to wash his hands and mouth before eating fleishig (meat food). What if he eats pareve (neither milk nor meat) food that was cooked in a fleishig pot? Although he does not have to wait six hours, does he at least have to clean his mouth and hands?
Answer: The matter of milk and meat is one in which we employ considerable stringency. This applies both to what is considered milchig and fleishig and to the separation between eating the two. We will see if your case also falls on the side of stringency.
In general, when something not kosher is cooked in a pot, it makes the pot “not-kosher,” which, in turn, makes the food that later cooks in it not kosher, etc. However, kosher foods that have the potential to become not kosher lose that ability when they are sufficiently separated from their original state. Based on this idea, known as nat bar nat, hot pareve food that was placed in a milchig or fleishig utensil does not become forbidden when mixed with the opposite type of food (Chulin 111b, Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Deah 95:2). However, the Rama (ad loc.) says that if the food was cooked or roasted in a milchig or fleishig pot that had been used for its type within 24 hours, it may not be mixed with the other type of food. On the other hand, we do not treat the otherwise pareve food totally as milchig or fleishig, as the Rama says that you may put this food into a utensil of the other type. Your good question is whether according to Ashkenazim, who follow this Rama, this food is fleishig enough to require washing hands and mouth before eating milchig.
Let us peruse the laws dealing with the amount and type of separation between milk and meat. The gemara (Chulin 104b-105a) talks about waiting between eating meat and subsequently eating cheese but says that no time is required after cheese before meat. It does, though, say that one should either check or wash his hands and clean his mouth before eating meat. The Shulchan Aruch (YD 89:3) rules that the above requirements are true only regarding actual meat and milk/cheese, but between two pareve foods, one cooked together with meat and one with milk, he does not need to wait or wash. In practice, the minhag seems to be to wait even after pareve food that was cooked together with significant enough amounts of fleishig to give a taste before eating even pareve cooked in milchig (see opinions in Badei Hashulchan 89:82). In any case, the Rama (YD 89:3) states unequivocally that if one ate pareve food cooked in a fleishig pot, he can eat even cheese right afterward. This makes a lot of sense, as we saw that according to the Shulchan Aruch, one could even mix this basically pareve food straight into milk. In fact, to give this statement more of a chiddush, some say that it is talking about a case where there was a little actual meat gravy in the pot (Shach 89:19) or when the food that was cooked in the pot is sharp, in which case the leniency of nat bar nat does not usually apply (R. Akiva Eiger, ad loc.). Certainly, in the case of normal pareve food in a clean fleishig pot, one does not have to wait afterward.
What about washing and rinsing, which are more widely required than waiting, e.g., after eating dairy? While one could contemplate stringency, the Eliyahu Rabba (Orach Chayim 173:4) says that one does not have to take any of those steps, and this approach is accepted by the Kaf Hachayim (YD 89:61) and contemporary poskim (including the Halachos of Kashrus, p. 204). The Badei Hashulchan (Biurim to 89:3) raises the possibility that when the pareve food is sharp or when one actually sees or feels residue on the hands or mouth, one should have to remove them. However, as he seems aware, he did not substantiate his claim with sources, and as the logic can go either way, we will not introduce even further stringency than exists. Thus, the answer to your question is that after eating any pareve food cooked in a fleishig pot, no washing is needed.
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This week’s Hemdat Yamim is dedicated in loving memory of
R' Meir ben