I don't understand why meat and dairy can't touch. Logically, dairy comes from animals, so it already touched. How can this be explained?
[Admninistrator's note: Several other questions already answered touch on this:
The issue with meat and dairy is not actually about whether or not they touch but whether taste is presumed to have been transferred and that one is tasting the two together. If both substances are cold, we do not presume any taste has transferred. In that case, one would merely need to rinse off the substances to make sure there isn’t residual meat or dairy to be eaten together.
If either the meat or dairy is hot, then we presume some taste has transferred to a degree determined by other factors which would be too complicated to list here. In that case, the entire substance might be entirely prohibited or just an outer layer depending on the circumstances.
Regarding the initial question about milk coming from an animal, at the time an animal is milked the animal is still alive. Meat is only considered meat once the animal has been slaughtered and therefore there is no actual meat coming in contact with the milk. Even if we would consider it to be meat, there is no transfer of meat taste to the milk since as stated above it is all cold.
In response to your question, I must be brief because of other time obligations.
The Scriptural law states: “You shall not boil a kid in its mother’s milk” (Exod. 23:19).
The law against meat “touching” milk is to intended to prevent the consumption of the two together. To give you a taste (pardon the pun) of what this law entails, here is a brief selection from the Mishnah in Hullin 8:2, which gives some interesting guidelines as to how early rabbinical law was practiced:
And it is forbidden to place it - any kind of flesh -on the same table with cheese, as a precautionary measure, lest it be inadvertently placed with the cheese into a boiling pot (i.e., a kli rishon - "primary cooking vessel used on a stove" that is currently boiling), which constitutes cooking and is forbidden by Torah law. This prohibition includes fowl meat, which is forbidden merely by Rabbinic law. This view follows Bet Hillel's ruling further on in our mishnah, lest animal meat be placed in a boiling pot ("first vessel") together with cheese; this does not constitute the imposition of a precautionary measure upon another precautionary measure (i.e., since the Rabbinic prohibition of eating fowl meat with milk merely aimed to prevent its substitution by animal meat, its extension to placing it on the table would be an imposition of one precautionary measure upon another - tr.), since placing food on the table is tantamount to eating it (Gemara,Rashi); according to Maimonides, placing fowl meat on the table together with cheese was forbidden, lest they be eaten together
As you can see, the rabbis were concerned primarily that someone might cook the two together—not if they might accidentally touch, which only requires washing the meat, or skimming the outer layer of the milk—assuming someone is that determined to drink the milk (yuk!).
As mentioned above, this is only a rabbinical decree and not a scriptural decree, which only prohibits cooking a calf in its mothers’ milk—as interpreted by Philo of Alexandria. The Sages differed and argued that the cooking of any meat and milk together is a biblical precept. Whether that is the case or not is debatable; however, the rabbis wished to keep the average person far away from committing a potential sin. Rabbinical “fences” (decrees) are intended to keep people away from more serious violations of the Torah.
One of the notable Orthodox scholars of the early 20th century, Samuel Belkin of Yeshiva University made some candid questions regarding the history and halachic evolution of this precept:
In the Mishnah Hullin 8:1, we find the undisputed law that no flesh may be cooked in milk. The Hillelites are of the opinion that even fowl may not be served on the table together with cheese or eaten with it. The Shammaites also admit that these foods may not be eaten together. The fact that the Mekiltah Mishpatim endeavors to deduce from the biblical passage that the prohibition against cooking flesh with milk applies also to the Diaspora Jews suggests that they hardly observed it.
The Rabbis did not take this law literally, but they interpreted it as a prohibition against dressing milk and flesh together. The law is called in rabbinic terminology “flesh and milk”( בשר בחלב). This rabbinic interpretation was not known to Philo, but, as Ritter accurately remarks, this Halakah was virtually unknown in Babylonia even as late as the Amoraic period. When Rab heard one woman asking another how much milk is necessary for cooking a portion of meat, he asked, “Is it not known here that dressing milk and flesh is forbidden?”In Alexandria, the biblical law even in its literal form was not observed by all. Philo advises the Alexandrian Jews that if they want to dress flesh with milk, they should at least use some other animal and not a kid in its mother's milk. In Palestine, the prohibition against dressing flesh with milk according to the halachic interpretation seems to have been a standard law during Philo's time.
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