Rabbi, I would appreciate it if you would take the time to respond to this question: We were discussing to follow the dietary laws as far as unclean foods, but do not separate meat from milk because we find that the Bible says 3x do not cook a kid in it’s mother’s milk, but no where in the written law does it say not to eat meat with milk.
We were surprised that when we were told that it was even worse to eat meat with milk than to violate the dietary laws of eating unclean food. Could you please explain if it is true that eating meat with milk is worse than eating pork etc?
It is not formally “worse” to eat meat with milk than it is to eat pork. Both involve Torah prohibitions.
However, the point that the person probably wished to convey is that having a “free” interpretation of the Bible leads to certain transgressions, and therefore we should be careful to heed the interpretations that have been handed down by the Sages. Although the Written Law is the primary source, we receive it together with the Oral Law.
Thus, it is true that verse tells us not to cook a kid in its mother’s milk. But what about a calf? And what about a lamb? Does the prohibition apply here? Of course, we know that it does, but we only know that from the interpretation of the Sages — and the same applies for eating milk with meat.
If we don’t follow the Sages’ interpretations, we are quite lost in a practical sense.
Somebody who eats bibically prohibited foods knows that he is not following the Torah law, and there is hope that he will one day change his heart, and begin to practice Torah law. Somebody, however, who does wish to follow Torah law, yet does so according to his own interpretation, has no chance of getting it right (in laws of Shabbat, kashrut, in how tefillin and tzitzit look, and so on), and also has little chance of changing heart, because he thinks he’s doing exactly what’s right based on his own interpretations.
This is possibly why you were told that eating meat and milk can be considered even more severe than unclean foods.
If you have further questions, we are of course at your service, and your interest in keeping the laws of the Torah, in times and societies where doing so in not necessarily vogue, is commendable.
Best wishes and much success.