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May fish be consumed with dairy?

May fish be consumed with dairy?

Is lox and cream cheese kosher?


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


Pesachim 76b.


O.C. 173:2.


Chullin 10a.


Bet Yosef Y.D. 87.


Darkei Moshe ad loc.


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
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Discussion (25)
June 15, 2016
RE: If there really were a health risk regarding fish and milk...
As you can read in the article, there is no health risk of fish and milk. The health risk is only regarding fish and meat. We do not eat fish and dairy out of deference for the words as they are found in the Code of Jewish Law. However, since this teaching does not seem to have strong basis, we comply only to the letter of the law, which was regarding (pure) milk and fish.
Menachem Posner
June 10, 2016
If there really were a health risk regarding fish and milk...
adding a little butter would not remove the risk. And on what basis did the Rabbis of the Talmud assert a health risk regarding fish and meat? Did they cite any experimental evidence? If not, it seems likely that they simply accepted the ignorant "science" of the Greeks or Romans.

We keep the laws of Kashrut because Hashem commanded us to do so. That's a lot better than "health" explanations. Once we realize a health explanation (eg meat and fish) has no basis, the rule becomes nonsense.
Emil Friedman
Hillside, NJ
November 15, 2014
I consider myself a faithful Jew. But I am also a chef. I am very interested in the argument about GMOs and chemicals in food, but to enter this discussion is a slippery slope for us. His Law is divine, but do our modern times call for a new interpretation? Do we use our modern knowledge in the following of His Laws, or do we stick to the book and dash science and modern life against the rocks? I for one follow the laws in my home, and refuse to question, but in my working capacity I cook whats ordered and am required to taste everything. Kosher or not. This leaves room for alot of questions, but when I clock out I defer to Divine Law. I don't eat fish, so I don't concern myself much with the pairing between seafood and dairy, but it is a very interesting debate.
S.T. Haaby
Western NY
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)?
October 3, 2011
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.
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?)
January 30, 2009
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
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
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.
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