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The Pitfalls of Dairy Bread


One of the hallmarks of modern consumption is variety. Even in baked goods we enjoy a huge range, and any given bakery will supply an impressive range. Yet, aside from basic kashrus issues, a specific halacha applies to bread that some are unaware of: dairy bread, which is a halachic issue in itself.

In the present article we will discuss the prohibition of baking dairy bread, and its scope. What is the reason for the prohibition? Which foods does it apply to? What can be done to permit the baking of dairy bread? Can the goods be made permissible after they were already baked in a prohibited way? These questions, among others, are discussed below.

The Prohibition

The Gemara (Pesachim 36a) records the following baraisa: “One may not knead dough with milk, and if he did, the bread is forbidden to be eaten, in order to prevent sin.” The concern is that the dairy bread might be eaten together with meat.

This Talmudic passaged is cited by the Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh Deah 97:1): “One may not knead dough with milk, lest one come to eat it with meat.” As noted, bread prepared this way is forbidden for consumption: “If one did knead it that way, the whole loaf is prohibited, even to eat alone.”

Scope of the Prohibition

Does the prohibition apply to foods other than bread? When asked concerning mixing milk into wine (to make it look more attractive), the Tzemach Tzeddek (no. 80) ruled that it is forbidden to do so: the wine might lie around for months, and the mixture of milk is likely to be forgotten. The Taz (Yoreh Deah 97) writes that a spice grinder used for meat, in certain circumstances becomes entirely forbidden for future use out of concern that it will be used for grinding spices that will be eaten with dairy.

However, the Aruch Hashulchan (97:1-2) writes (based on other Poskim) that the halacha does not follow the Taz, and that the decree is limited to bread alone, since this is our staple food and it invokes the greatest concern. Shut Minchas Yaakov (61, 3) adds that the additional stringency of the Tzemach Tzeddek applies specifically to wine which is similar to bread since one consumes it together with meat, and not to other foods.

Concerning pastries, Shut Maharit (no. 18) writes that the prohibition—he refers to the prohibition on meaty bread, out of concern that it will be eaten with dairy products—applies to bread that might be eaten with meat (or with dairy) during the meal, and not to foods and pastries that are generally not eaten as part of the a meal. This is ruled by the Chochmas Adam (50:3). However, the Darchei Teshuvah (97:14) notes that several authorities are stringent, out of concern that a dairy pastry will be eaten after a meat meal.

For foods that are often eaten during a meal one must certainly be stringent, and this is the reason why we are careful to bake dairy bourekas in a distinctive triangle shape (Shut Vedarashta Vechakarta 4:3).

Exceptions to the Rule

The Gemara notes (citing Ravina) an exception to the prohibition: “If it is baked k’ein tora” it is permissible.”

What is the meaning of the phrase“k’ein tora”? Rashi translates it to mean “like the eye of an ox,” meaning something small. According to Rashi, it is permitted to bake a small amount of dairy bread, since it will be consumed right away and will not remain in the house long enough for a person to forget that it was kneaded with milk.

Other Rishonim, however, understand the expression differently. The Rif (Chullin 38a) translates the phrase to mean “similar to an ox,” which means in an unusual form. If the bread is baked in an unusual form (such as the form of an ox), which indicates the bread is not pareve, there is no longer any prohibition. This is also the opinion of the Rashba, who writes that “the observer will assume the change in form was made to indicate something and will therefore ask and find out.”

The Rambam (Hilchot Maachalot Asurot 9:22) likewise rules that “if he made a change in the form of the bread, until it is recognizable in order that a person won’t eat meat […] with it, it is permitted.”

Halachic Rulings

The Tur (Yoreh De’ah 97) mentions both interpretations of k’ein tora. The Beis Yosef (citing Sha’arei Dora) writes that both are halachically valid: “Both interpretations are halachically true, since they both are logically sound.”

The Beis Yosef also notes that rolls baked for the Shabbos meals can be baked with a meat filling, since their quantity is small. This statement is in line with Rashi’s interpretation. The Darkei Moshe, however, writes that an additional reason for the leniency is that their shape is changed, and adds that if the meaty or dairy elements are recognizable in the result it is permitted, and there is no need for an additional change. This is significant for pastries or Danishes that are filled with cheese; these are permissible since the cheese is recognizable, so there is no concern one would mistakenly eat them with meat.

However, the Shulchan Aruch notes both leniencies, in accordance with the two interpretations above: “If it was a small quantity that can be eaten in one sitting, or its shape is unusual so it will be recognizable so that it wouldn’t be eaten with meat, it is permitted.”

What is a Small Amount?

Concerning what is considered a “small amount,” the Shulchan Aruch writes that anything eaten “in one sitting” is a small amount. Anything more would thus be prohibited.

The Rema, however, writes that the amount prepared for a single Shabbos or a single festival day is a “small amount,” by which he justifies the custom to bake dairy bread for Shavuos. The reasoning behind this is that since the bread is not going to be kept for a lengthy time, people will not forget and eat it with meat.

The Kaf Hachaim writes that those from Sephardic origin must be stringent to not bake more than an amount for a single “sitting,” explaining that this refers to “a small amount for each individual.” By contrast, the Pri Megadim (1) writes that it is permitted to bake an amount that will likely not remain overnight.

Making a Change After Baking

What is the halacha if a bread product was already baked with milk, without a change in form? Can a change be made after the bread was baked?

Rav Yonoson Eibshitz (Kreiti Upleiti 97:3) writes that this is permitted.: If one baked dairy bread in a large enough quantity to be prohibited, it can be broken up into small pieces or have its shape changed. Doing so will render it permitted.

The Chavos Da’as, however, maintains that this does not help: Since the the bread was baked in a manner that is forbidden, it can never be made permissible. The Pischei Teshuva and Pri Megadim side with the Chavos Da’as, and it seems that this is the normative halacha.

However, Rav Moshe Halberstam ruled that under extenuating circumstances a post-baking change can also help, and he recommended placing stickers on the bread that clearly indicate its being dairy.

Unintentionally Dairy

What happens if milk inadvertently falls into the dough? Does the prohibition apply only to a dough that was intentionally baked with milk, or does it apply even to a dough that inadvertently became dairy?

The Pri Megadim (1) raises this question as a matter of doubt, and writes that the general silence of Poskim on the issue indicates that the bread is forbidden even when it became dairy inadvertently. The Kaf Hachaim (97:11) writes this explicitly: even if the milk was poured in inadvertently, or fell in by mistake, the bread is forbidden. This is supported by the above-cited Taz since in his case the grinder inadvertently became fleishig.

However, the Imrei Bina (Basar Bechalav 13) suggests that perhaps the prohibition only applies when the milk was added intentionally, and does not apply otherwise.


We have seen that there is a problem of baking dairy bread—a problem that applies also to meaty bread, though this is less common. Nonetheless, there are exceptions to the rule, and ways in which the prohibition can be avoided. It is important to be aware of the relevant halachos, and to ensure that we do not come to the situation that Chazal were concerned for—of eating dairy bread at a meat meal or meaty bread at a dairy meal.













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