Why did Chazal forbid making bread that is dairy or meat?
As a general rule, bread must be pareve. The Gemara states four times that one should not knead dough with milk. If dough with milk was baked, it may not be consumed. The same restriction applies to baking fleishig bread. (Therefore, the Gemara rules that an oven used for baking bread should not be greased with animal fat.) Chazal instituted this gezeirah (decree) lest one not know the status of the bread and accidentally consume it with meat or dairy. The Pri Megadim (Sifsei Da’as 97:1) writes that even if milk was accidentally added to the dough, or the individual baking the bread was unfamiliar with this prohibition, the bread may not be consumed.
Furthermore, the Chasam Sofer writes (Teshuvos Chasam Sofer, YD 107) that the bread is forbidden even if baked by a non-Jew.
Are there any circumstances when it is permissible to eat dairy or meat bread?
The Gemara (Pesachim 36a) relates that Rabbi Yehoshua asked his son to bake dairy bread for him. The Gemara then raises the question: How can this be? Isn’t dairy bread prohibited? The Gemara responds that it was baked “k’ein tura,” which is permissible. There is a disagreement among Rishonim as to the definition of the words “k’ein tura.” Rashi translates the phrase as “the eye of an ox.”
According to this understanding, it is permissible to bake a small amount of dairy bread, the size of the eye of an ox, since it will be eaten in one sitting and one will not forget that it is dairy and eat it at a meat meal. (If a large amount of bread was made, one may not salvage a small portion since the entire batch was baked in violation of the halachah.) According to the Rif, “k’ein tura” means “like the shape of an ox.” In other words, it is permissible to bake dairy bread as long as it has an unusual shape that will remind the baker that it is dairy. The Shulchan Aruch (YD 97:1) rules that both explanations are correct. One may either bake a small quantity of dairy bread or bake it in a distinct and unusual shape. The Rema notes that it was customary to bake a small amount of dairy bread with a unique shape in honor of the first day of Shavuos.
The Shulchan Aruch writes that it is permissible to bake “a small amount” of milchig or fleishig bread. What is considered a small amount?
The Pri Megadim (Sifsei Da’as 97:1) writes that the size of “a small amount” is a matter of dispute between the Shulchan Aruch and the Rema. The wording of the Shulchan Aruch implies that it is only considered a small amount if it will be completely consumed in one meal. However, in his sefer Toras Chatas, the Rema writes that a small amount of bread is a quantity that will be eaten in one day. In general, those of Sephardic descent follow the opinion of the Shulchan Aruch, while those of Ashkenazic descent follow the Rema. The Aruch Hashulchan (YD 97:4) notes that “a small amount” is based on the size of the family, and one may bake a small amount for each family member.
Does the prohibition of Chazal to not bake dairy bread apply to any other food?
The Tzemach Tzedek (siman 80) writes that it is forbidden to produce dairy wine. He explains that just as Chazal forbade dairy bread because bread is a staple food commonly eaten at every meal, the same applies to wine. In addition, the potential for mistakenly consuming dairy wine at a meat meal is greater than for bread, as bread only stays fresh for a few days, while wine lasts for years.
Does the prohibition of dairy bread apply to pastries such as dairy cake or cookies?
The sixteenth-century halachic authority Maharit (YD 2:18) was asked whether a baker may sell fleishig pastries (pas haba’ah b’kisnin) if he informs each customer that it is fleishig. The Maharit did not allow it, because he was concerned that the baker might forget to alert the customer. Nonetheless, the Maharit concluded that the prohibition of baking dairy or meat bread does not apply to sweet cakes or fruit-filled pastries for the following reason: As mentioned above, Chazal enacted a gezeirah forbidding dairy bread in order to avoid confusion. There is a general halachic principle that a gezeirah is enacted to prevent Biblical violations, but not to prevent the violation of rabbinic restrictions. (The Talmud explains that enacting a gezeirah to prevent violation of a rabbinic decree would be a gezeirah l’gezeirah, an enactment upon an enactment, since most rabbinic restrictions are preventive measures in the first place.) In the case of dairy bread, the rabbis were concerned that a person might accidentally eat dairy bread with meat, which could potentially be a violation of Biblical law. Cakes and cookies, on the other hand, are typically not eaten with meat, but rather at the end of a meal as a dessert. If a person erred and ate a dairy cookie or slice of cake after meat, the violation would be rabbinic. As such, the rabbis did not enact a gezeirah against eating dairy cakes or cookies.
The Crust of the Matter
I have noticed that the OU certifies commercially sold pizza crusts that are dairy. Why is it permissible for one to eat a dairy pizza crust?
The Maharit (YD 2:18) writes that one may not sell dairy bread in a bakery even if the bread has a unique shape, because a consumer who is not from the area might think the shape is standard for bread in that city. One might therefore assume that commercial dairy pizza crust is prohibited despite its unique shape. However, Rabbi Yisroel Belsky, zt”l, who was the OU’s senior halachic consultant, maintained that pizza crust is universally recognizable and it is common knowledge that pizza crust is intended for use with cheese. Hence, it is reasonable to assume that the consumer will realize the dough might be dairy.
Does the prohibition of dairy bread apply to dairy crackers?
No. Rabbi Belsky explained that cake is not included in the gezeirah against baking and consuming dairy bread, because cake is not bread. The OU certifies dairy crackers because there is minimal concern of accidentally consuming dairy crackers at a meat meal or vice versa. It is well known that crackers come in dairy and pareve varieties, and the consumer can easily ascertain the status of the cracker by examining the packaging, which will have an OU-D logo if the product is dairy. (While one might assume that an OU-D logo on the packaging would suffice as a marker, as it would satisfy the requirement of being made in a “unique shape,” it is not halachically acceptable, since the marker is external to the actual bread.)
Why does the OU certify dairy English muffins?
For many years, the distinctive look of the English muffin was considered an identifiable mark that the product was dairy. Today that is no longer the case, as pareve English muffins have become common. However, the OU continues to certify English muffins because the percentage of dairy in the muffin is batel b’shishim (nullified in 60 parts).
In truth, the Tzemach Tzedek (siman 80) writes that a Jew may not add even a single drop of milk to his bread. He considered adding a small amount of milk to bread tantamount to adding a drop of milk to meat, since it is likely the bread will be consumed with meat. Intentionally creating a situation of bitul b’shishim is not permissible. This is known as ein mevatlin issur lechatchilah (one may not intentionally create a situation of bitul). Nonetheless, many posekim disagree with the Tzemach Tzedek, including the Pischei Teshuvah (Yoreh De’ah 97:6), Nachalas Tzvi (ibid.), Magen Avraham (447:45) and Kenesses Hagedolah, provided there is no intent to eat the final product with meat. The OU relies on the authorities who are lenient and certifies English muffins that contain a small amount of milk. That said, the OU requires an OU-D logo on the label of English muffins that are baked with milk. As a matter of policy, any OU-certified product that contains milk, even if batel, must be labeled OU-D.
I baked bread in my oven at the same time as meat. The meat was dry without gravy. Can the bread be eaten at all? Can it be eaten with dairy?
The Gemara (Pesachim 30a) teaches that one is not permitted to bake fleishig bread because one might accidentally eat it with dairy. (If one did bake fleishig bread, it may not be eaten, even with pareve or meat foods.) However, in this case, the bread was baked in the same oven but did not touch the meat. The only concern is that the bread might have absorbed the meat’s aroma (reicha). Halachah views aroma as an intangible, and it is nullified in the bread. The Rema (YD 108:1), however, writes that it is nonetheless better not to eat this bread with dairy because it is preferable not to rely on the nullification of the meat aroma; however, if no other bread is available, the Rema writes, this bread may be served with dairy.
This article has been adapted from OU Kosher’s Halacha Yomis, a halachah email sent out each weekday and dedicated in the memory of Rabbi Yisroel Belsky, zt”l, former OU Kosher halachic consultant. Special thanks to Rabbi Yaakov Luban, OU Kosher executive rabbinic coordinator; Rabbi Eli Gersten, recorder of OU Kosher pesak and policy; and Rabbi Yisroel Bendelstein, OU Kosher rabbinic coordinator, for help in preparing this article.
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