For donations Click Here

Pareve Predilections


How important is having pareve dishes and utensils? Does using pareve dishes make learning the halachos unnecessary? Can a pareve food cooked in a meaty receptacle be eaten with milk? What are the differences between Sephardic and Ashkenazi customs? Does intention matter here? Is there a difference between cooking and baking? Two separate sinks seem de rigueur for a kosher home. Why? Is it permitted to eat food produced in a kitchen with only one sink? Of this, and more in the coming article.

Shavous – Mixing Pareve Meat with Milk

In honor of the upcoming holiday of Shavous we will touch upon the complex halachos born of the obligation to separate meat from milk. Can a pareve food item that was cooked in a dairy pot be eaten together with meat? Is planning ahead and cooking a large pot of a pareve food to be split between meat and dairy meals permitted? This question is especially relevant this year, when Shavous – the holiday on which we eat both meat and dairy — falls on Friday. Can one pot of potatoes or vegetables cooked in a dairy pot be used for both dairy and meat meals? Can leftover eggs from the meat meal be eaten with milk?

L’chatachila and B’dieved

The halachos here can be very confusing due to the mixed use of the terms l’chatchila – initially, and b’dieved – post action, also for the middle ground which is both l’chatchila and b’dieved. In this article we aim to clarify these issues. For this end we will refrain from using these confusing terms. Instead, we will be using the following terms:

  • Advance planning – when is planning to use the same food for both meat and dairy permissible, and when not? When can one pot of eggs be used for both Shabbos morning liver salad and Greek cheese salad?
  • Intentionally mixing – once the food is already cooked, can it be mixed with meat or milk?
  • Mistakes – once the food was cooked in either meat or dairy and mixed with the opposite, is the food still salvageable or is eating it forbidden?

For convenience’s sake all examples in this article will be of a pareve food cooked in a meaty pot, and the discussion will revolve around the permissibility of mixing it with milk. Obviously, the halacha is the same also the other way around – when a pareve food is cooked in a dairy pot and is required for a meaty meal.

Origins of Pareve

The term pareve is a fairly new one. Early halachic sources refer to pareve as “not meat and not dairy” while others simply call it “a new pot” – one that has not yet been made meat or dairy. Most people simply couldn’t own three sets of dishes, and the halachos of pareve cooked in meat or dairy were known by all.

Over the years, the term pareve (from Yiddish) took root. Today, many households can allow themselves the luxury of three sets of dishes – meat, dairy, and pareve. This allows cooking many foods in the neutral pareve and only later deciding what their purpose will be. As this article will explain, this practice saves many from stumbling in this area of complex halachos, assisting in keeping kosher the best way possible.

Preferable Pareve

Isn’t it better to prevent all questions and just keep every food that is not meat or dairy – pareve?

The answer is, it depends: some families know the halachos and have no problem keeping a kitchen with less pareve dishes. This allows them to be lenient in some cases, as will be detailed below. Other households need to cook pareve foods in pareve dishes to prevent mistakes. People may forget the halachic details, especially when children use the kitchen and mix things up.

Even those who keep things pareve must know the relevant halachos. Thing inevitably get mixed up or extenuating circumstances arise. Then, even if one forgets the exact details, as long as he has a basic idea of the halachos and knows what to ask, he remains on the right track.

This is also important to be able to distinguish the different cases when observing others who do differently. In the primordial Garden of Eden, Chava was told to be scrupulous and not even touch the Tree of Knowledge, despite G-d only forbidding eating from it. After she touched it and nothing happened, she transgressed the actual prohibition.

Rabbi Reuven Feinstein shlita told the following story to illustrate the importance of knowing the actual halachos, and not only their practical application. While most Jewish homes are careful to have two separate sinks for meat and dairy, it remains possible to run a kosher kitchen with only one sink. This requires proficiency in the relevant halachos and is not simple, but possible.

Rabbi Feinstein said that his daughter’s teacher once stated quite passionately that she’d never eat in a home that had only one sink because the kitchen was, no doubt, unkosher. “In that case,” announced Rav Reuven’s daughter, “You won’t be able to eat in my grandfather, Rav Moshe’s house. He has only one sink in his kitchen.”

Rav Moshe’s wife was certainly proficient of all the halachos and agreed to forgo certain comforts, allowing her to keep a kosher kitchen with only one sink. However, doing so for a regular household is not simple. Nevertheless, it is important to remember that a kosher house can certainly have one single sink (Igros Moshe YD 1:42).


The source for these halachos is a Gemara (Chullin 111:b): fish that “came up” in a meaty pot are allowed to be eaten with a dairy dish. The Rishonim dispute what the exact meaning of the term “came up” is. Below is a list of the different interpretations:

  • Both the fish and the meaty receptacle were hot, and the fish was placed hot in a meaty bowl or dish. Since both the fish and the utensil were hot the fish absorbs a taste of the meat. However, since it is only a weak flavor, the fish can be cooked or eaten together with milk.
  • Only if the flavor passed in three steps: a) the meat flavor was absorbed in the receptacle b) the flavor passed into the water or other liquid in which the fish was cooked c) the flavor passed from the liquid into the fish. If only two stages are present (the fish was fried or baked without liquid, for example) this leniency is irrelevant.

Therefore in the case of the Gemara only the fish or food itself is permitted. The liquid or water cannot be eaten since they only have two stages.

  • Only if one of the two components – either the food, or the receptacle – was cold. If both were hot, this halacha does not apply.
  • Only post action – i.e. if it happened, not a prearranged, deliberate plan. One must not cook pareve food in a meaty pot with intention to eat it with milk.
  • Many Rishonim are of the opinion that while the Gemara here speaks of a past action – i.e. only after the mixture occurred, planning to do so before cooking is permitted in any case and there is no problem to cook a pareve item and intend for it to be served with milk.
  • Others maintain that only after the fish was mixed with milk the Gemara permits eating it, but l’chatchila it mustn’t be done.


The question when one needs to use pareve utensils depends on the interpretation of this Gemara: one opinion allows even cooking food in a fleishig pot with intention to eat the food together with milchig food; a second opinion maintains that only after the pareve was cooked in meat may one eat it with milchig food. A third opinion is that only after the food was mixed with milchig that one may eat the mixture.

Sfardi Ruling

The Shulchan Aruch (YD 95:1-2) understands the Gemara permits one to eat together with milchig, food that was cooked, fried, or baked in a meaty receptacle, since the meaty flavor is “weak” it does not create a forbidden mixture of meat with milk.

Did the Shulchan Aruch permit to intentionally do so, or only to mix both once the pareve was already cooked? This question does not receive an explicit answer in the Shulchan Aruch. The Achronim (Shach footnote 3; Zivchei Tzeddek footnote 2; Kresi, footnote 1; Kaf Hachaim footnote 1; and others) understand that the Shulchan Aruch means to forbid planning on cooking a pareve food in order to eat it with dairy. Only after the deed was done, b’dieved, one need not restrict himself to eating it only with meat, and it can be eaten with dairy.

Most Sfardim rule l’halacha not to plan in advance to cook a pareve item in a meaty receptacle on the same day it was used in order to eat it together with diary (Zivchei Tzedek, Kaf Hachaim, and others). Others agree with this ruling, except for extenuating circumstances and when extremely necessary. However, Rabbi Ovadya Yosef (Yabia Omer YD 9:4) rules that one may even cook food in a fleishig pot with intention to eat it together with milchog food. He adds that even if the Moroccans customarily forbade doing so, once they came to Israel they must follow the majority Sfardi poskim who permit it.

Ashkenazi Ruling

The Rama (YD 95:2) rules that prior planning to cook a pareve item in order to later eat it with milk, or even intentionally mixing a pareve item cooked in a meaty receptacle with dairy is forbidden, and the leniency only applies to the scenario in which one of the two – either food or receptacle – were cold. Only then the food may be mixed with dairy.

When a pareve item was cooked in a meaty pot without water (i.e. in an oven) which was used that same day for meat and then was mixed by mistake with dairy, the poskim are divided: the Rama (YD 95:2) and Pri Chadash (footnote 5) permit it, while the Shach (footnote 4) quotes the Maharshal who forbids it. Therefore, where no significant loss will be caused one should be scrupulous.

The Shach also maintains that water or liquid cooked in a meaty pot and mixed with dairy are forbidden (Pri Megadim chavos Da’as and Pischei Teshuva) since water is cheap.

This week’s article summarized the main halachos, but there are many details. Next week’s article which will arrive before Shavous will b’ezras Hashem, provide further detail as well as several practical rulings that are relevant for the coming holiday of Shavous.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *