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I Am Not An Animal

How long must one wait to eat meat after eating dairy?

According to the strict letter of the law, one can eat immediately. But first one must do "kinuch v'hadacha" - chewing on bread [to clean out the mouth of the dairy] and rinsing the mouth [Yoreh Deah 89/2, but see the Gra there]. However the custom is to wait a half hour. The source for this custom is quite a mystery. [See "Mekadesh Yisrael - Shavuos", Rav Y. D. Harpenes, Simman 75]

Something interesting that many people don't know is that after eating hard cheese it is commendable to wait 6 hours before eating meat [See Rema 89/3]. What is considered hard cheese? I was afraid you would ask that question! Suffice it to say that this question is the subject of considerable debate. Some say American cheese is considered hard cheese. [See Mekadesh Yisrael Simman 83] Many major poskim in Israel say that after eating pizza one should wait six hours because of the cheese. However many hold that we don't have halachically hard cheeses in our day and age so no six hour wait is ever necessary.

Waiting between meat and milk and vice versa teaches us to exercise restraint. Restraint is a uniquely human characteristic. Animals [and their human counterpart] don't know how to restrain themselves. Today we live in an age of instant gratification. Learning how to delay pleasure makes us better people.

i actually wait 3 hours, but in a few months i will have to wait 5 (i'm slightly annoyed, but the benenfits of the circumstances far outweigh the negatives of the extra 2 hours). i want to share a story that happened when i was about 3 years old. i once ate chicken for dinner and i was still hungry. i asked my mom for a bagel with cream cheese, and she said it would have to wait. i cried and complained and asked why, to which she responded "hashem said no eating cream cheese right after chicken, you have to wait. just like he said you no coloring on shabbos." i accepeted this- after all, i knew how to wait till after shabbos, so i could wait to eat cream cheese. i don't know how long i waited in the end- b/c i was little, my mom probably gave me the bagel after a half hour (which to a 3-year old would have certainly felt like 3 hours) but i remember the words so clearly- that hashem said i would have to wait. and i appreciate the way my mom put it at the time as well. even though i was young, she felt it necessary to emphsize that her rules were hashem's rules.

Oh- I see how this works: You're happy to wait 3 hours for Hashem, but not 2 more?

Of course this comment is meant in jest- I have a hard enough time waiting at all!


"You shouldn't say that you enjoy waiting 5 hours, rather you should say that you want to wait just 3 hours, but what can you do, your Father in heaven has prohibited it!"

(I forget which source I'm paraphrasing - does someone know?)

No, you've got it wrong- I was saying how I DIDN'T like waiting at all

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About me

  • I'm Rabbi Ally Ehrman
  • From Old City Jerusalem, Israel
  • I am a Rebbe in Yeshivat Netiv Aryeh.
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