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Why the extended wait between eating "aged" cheese and meat?

Why the extended wait between eating "aged" cheese and meat?

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Question:

I just received an email memo from a renowned kosher certification organization stating that a certain brand of crackers are made with "aged cheese." What is the relevance of this information?

Answer:

After eating "aged" cheese, one is required to wait a full six hours before eating meat.

The reason for this rule raises a very interesting point of discussion among the early medieval halachic commentaries.

After eating meat before eating dairy, one must wait the amount of time that normally elapses between meals. The projected time between meals is six hours.1

Why the wait?

Two reasons are given. Maimonides writes that meat is stringy and gets stuck between the teeth; after six hours any meat residue has been rendered distasteful and is therefore not a matter of concern.

According to others, meat's pungent taste and odor, which is felt long after the meat has been eaten, is the reason for the mandatory wait.

Neither of these two reasons apply to dairy foods, and therefore no extended wait is required after eating dairy before consuming meat.2

Aged cheese, however, while not stringy, does have a pungent taste. Thus, due to the second reasoning mentioned above, after eating such cheese it is necessary to wait six hours before eating meat.

The consensus among the latter authorities is that cheese which has undergone a proper fermenting process is sufficiently strong to warrant a six hour break before meat is eaten.3

The memo which you received was alerting readers that that product contained aged cheesed and therefore warranted the longer wait.

For more on the laws of Kosher, see our Kosher Handbook

Yours truly,

Rabbi Menachem Posner

FOOTNOTES
1.

This according to the halachic opinion followed by Eastern European Ashkenazim and many others.

2.

After eating dairy and before eating meat, something pareve that does not stick to the palate is eaten. The mouth is then rinsed (it is enough to take a drink) and hands should be washed. In addition, many have the custom of waiting a certain period of time -- a half-hour or an hour.

3.

The following is from OUKosher.org:
What qualifies as hard, aged cheese? According to Jewish law, this is cheese that is aged for six months or so. However, since modern manufacturing techniques enable cheese-makers to develop hard cheese in less time, contemporary halachic authorities do not agree on the matter. The halachic authorities of the OU Kashrut Department have ruled that cheese that is endowed with a unique texture or lingering taste—akin to the texture or taste classically acquired via aging—qualifies as hard cheese, regardless of the precise aging period.
Some of the cheeses that require waiting include Parmesan cheese (usually aged for ten months), Swiss cheese (aged for at least sixty days) as well as aged cheddar (aged anywhere from a few months to several years). (Please note that not all cheddar is aged. Fresh cheddar that is manufactured, packaged and sold within a period of days lacks the unique qualities of aged cheddar.) Similarly, one should wait after eating the following cheeses (if you can find kosher versions!): Asiago medium cheese (aged for six months), Asiago old cheese (aged for a year) and Sap Sago cheese (aged for five months).
Many posekim are of the opinion that one need not wait after eating cheese that is melted since melting compromises the texture and flavor of the cheese. Thus, there is no need to wait after American cheese, as it is a blend of cheddar cheese and additives that has been melted and re-formed. This is the OU's position as well.

Rabbi Menachem Posner serves as staff editor for Chabad.org. He lives with his family in Montreal, QC.
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Discussion (6)
April 27, 2014
Scientifically Verified
It is important to note that these halachic laws are scientifically verified to assist in promoting life. For example, if milk is drank or eaten with meat, it inhibits the absorption of iron. In the example above, it makes perfect sense that an aged, hard cheese will take at least 4 to 6 hours to become completely digested and absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract and assimilated into the body. It's wonderful that G-d gave us this great gift, the Torah, with all it's wisdom; this great gift G-d gave us... But for anyone who may ever have a doubt, it's worth noting that science catches up later on and verifies medical reasons for rules prescribed in the Torah. I am a computer programmer and I see the Torah as the "Code of Life" which our wonderful, awesome G-d gave us. B-H.
Bryan Russell
Hollywood, FL
June 12, 2013
Is this "Milk and Meat" thing even biblical?
Avraham knew his animals and ensured that indeed, the baby wasn't boiled in it's mother's milk, a violation of G-d's law whether written by Moshe or known by Avraham.

El'ad/Dale
El'ad ben Avraham/Dale Edmons
Aberdeen, WA
March 14, 2011
Milk -Meat
I read of someone whose sports nutrition lecturer said that you should avoid drinking milk whilst eating meat, as it is an iron inhibitor. Meat is the main source of iron for a lot of people, so if we are consuming milk or cheese, or other iron inhibitors whilst eating meat we risk being iron deficient.
Other iron inhibitors can include cereal grains & nuts IF not prepared properly & then chewed well ; also tea & coffee.
Stephanie Clifton
Mansfield, UK
July 22, 2008
Is this "Milk and Meat" thing even biblical?
On an even more elementary level: The Torah states: "Do not cook a young goat in its mother's milk." This verse is stated 3 times in the Torah. The Talmud derives from that - 1 verse is for the prohibition of EATING milk and meat. 1 verse is for DERIVING BENEFIT from a milk and meat product and 1 verse is for the prohibition of COOKING them together even without the intention of eating or deriving benefit thereof.
Moshe Wolf
Illinois
July 21, 2008
RE: Is this "Milk and Meat" thing even biblical?
On the most elementary level, one can answer that the laws of the Torah had not yet been given at Sinai, and Abraham was therefore not bound by them.

However, Talmud (Mishna Kiddushin 4:14) tells us that Abraham kept all of the Torah, including the Kosher laws.

So how did Abraham feed the guests milk and meat?

Chizkuni (18:8) writes that Abraham was acting in accordance with the law that dairy may precede but not follow meat. It is for this reason that butter was mentioned before the meat, because it was served first, and then the meat.

However this alone does not entirely explain Abraham’s actions because meat may not follow dairy in one meal even as a second course.

We must therefore conclude that Abraham was not concerned about whether his non-Jewish guests kept kosher since they were in no way obligated in the first place.
Menachem Posner for Chabad.org
July 21, 2008
Is this "Milk and Meat" thing even biblical?
Abraham gave his angelic guests both meat and dairy products together (Genesis 18:1-8) and was not rebuked for doing so. There is a prohibition against cooking baby animals in their mother's milk (Exodus 23:19) but I do not understand how this applies to eating meat and dairy together
Andrew Snader
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