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May fish be consumed with dairy?

May fish be consumed with dairy?

Is lox and cream cheese kosher?

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Believe it or not, there is indeed discussion whether this innocuous-seeming staple of Sunday morning post-prayer brunches is ok for consumption under the kosher dietary laws.

Now, there is nothing inherently un-kosher in either lox or cream cheese (as long as no non-kosher ingredients were used in their manufacture). The issue at hand is if they can be eaten together.

Fish is pareve. This means that as far as the kosher laws of meat and milk are concerned, it is a neutral zone. It is neither a meat dish nor a milk dish and can be eaten with either. However, the Talmud1 warns us not to eat fish with meat, asserting that the combination is unhealthy. This is mentioned in the Code of Jewish Law2 with the admonition that health concerns are to be treated with even greater gravity than ritual laws.3 So the accepted practice is to change dishes and rinse one's mouth between fish and meat courses.

So far, our precious lox and cream cheese is safe. But Rabbi Yosef Karo (1488-1575)4 mentions a health restriction concerning eating fish and milk as well. The subsequent commentaries, including Rabbi Moshe Isserles (1520-1572),5 argue that this statement of Rabbi Yosef Karo must be an error, because there is neither Talmudic basis nor any other rabbinical precedent for prohibiting milk and fish.

Nevertheless, since Rabbi Yosef Karo wrote that milk and fish should not be mixed, there are those who do not mix them. The Chabad custom is that we do not eat fish together with milk, but we do eat fish with milk products. Even adding a touch of butter or cream to the milk is sufficient to permit mixing it with fish.6 Certainly then, lox and cream cheese can come together onto any Chabad table.

Yours truly,

Rabbi Menachem Posner

FOOTNOTES
1.

Pesachim 76b.

2.

O.C. 173:2.

3.

Chullin 10a.

4.

Bet Yosef Y.D. 87.

5.

Darkei Moshe ad loc.

6.

Reshimos of the Rebbe, vol. 185, quoting Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Lubavitch, known as the Tzemach Tzedek.

Rabbi Menachem Posner serves as staff editor for Chabad.org. He lives with his family in Montreal, QC.
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Discussion (22)
June 29, 2014
if health concerns are to be treated with more stringency than ritual laws how come there hasn't been any halachic discussion on the implication of gmos and pesticides ( especially Glyphosate, the chemical found in roundup)?
kyle
October 3, 2011
FISH
I don't grill my fish with butter. I USE OLIVE OIL. This is very healthy. I serve it with a green salad and brown rice. The dog likes the rice and fish - hold the salad! LOL.
ROBERTA Fredman
Buffalo, NY
February 8, 2009
The Chabad position makes no sense!
the omega-3 oil in fish is healthful, but the saturated fat in milk is unhealthful. Thus fish with milk poses a greater health risk than fish alone. But since cream, butter, and cheese all have much MORE saturated fat than plain milk does, fish with cream, butter, or cheese is even WORSE for one's health than fish plus milk.

(If one man subsists on chowder made from fish and milk, while his brother subsists on chowder made from fish and cream, which of them do you suppose will be the first to have a heart attack?)
Anonymous
January 30, 2009
clarification
As far as I know. this is the opinion of ALL the achronim. with the exception of Aruch Hashulchan (who says the opposite), See lso Piskei Tshuvos volume one (not in front of me now).
The guy
Anonymous
Yerushalayim
January 29, 2009
to the guy from jerusalem
"the achronim" is quite a broad way of describing SOME achronim.

If you want to follow them, go ahead and be my guest, or rather don't because i am serving lox and cream cheese.
gershon mcgreevy
January 29, 2009
help
the Achronim (Pischei Tshuva + others) in Shulchan Aruch Y.D. 87, state that cheese and fish are NOT to be eaten together even according to those who permit MILK and fish.
Anonymous
Yerushalayim, Eretz Yisroel
January 23, 2009
to elisheva
There was no real source in chabad customs of how exactly where we to follow
only after gimmel tammuz was it revealed how the rebbeim hold in this issue
another bocher
January 22, 2009
There never was any other "chabad custom"
There never was any "minhag chabad" not to eat milk products with fish. Anyone who said there was, was simply misinformed. R. Zalman Shimon Dworkin a"h (who passed away more than 20 years ago) was asked about this and he said that in Lubavitch the custom was that anything other than plain milk can be eaten with fish. He would personally have a coffee with milk with his herring (don't try this at home).
Chayim
January 22, 2009
To Elisheva
There was no unified custom since there was no written directive in either direction. I heard that the Rabbi Dworkin, "the rov of Lubavitch" was once seen munching on herring whilst sipping a dairy coffee (yuck!). Some did and some did not.

This directive is found in the Rebbe's private notes which were not publised until the mid/late nineties.
A Bochur
January 22, 2009
still a bit confused
Let me get this straight. While the Rebbe was alive, the Chabad custom was NOT to mix ANY milk products with fish. I was told not to add a dab of butter when grilling fish. But only after Gimel Tammuz, the Tzemach Tzedek's ruling was unveiled? Therefore, we do eat milk PRODUCTS with fish?
If I got it right, not too many people in Chabad know about this. In any home devoted to Chabad customs, I have never seen or heard that they use milk products with fish. Why is this psak a "secret"
Elisheva
Brooklyn, NY
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