Ask The Rabbi

Say Cheese!

The Color of HeavenArtscroll
Topic: Cheeses, Hard, Waiting Before Eating Meat

Julia Gomberg from Brooklyn, NY wrote:
Dear Rabbi,

Please explain the halachot that are related to certain hard cheeses that require one to wait 6 hours before eating meat. If possible, please give the specific categories and names of such cheeses, and the reasons behind this halacha. Many thanks.


Dear Julia Gomberg,

Dairy products such as milk, cream cheese, cottage cheese, yoghurt, ice-cream, and butter require no waiting period before partaking of meat. However the mouth should be cleaned first.

According to Ashkenazic custom, one must wait about six hours after cheddar, Dutch or Swiss cheese, or other strong flavored cheeses before eating meat.

It is universally accepted that after meat there be a waiting period before eating dairy. Two reasons are given for this: Either because the meat exudes a taste for about 6 hours, or because meat stuck between the teeth is still considered meat until about 6 hours afterwards.

According to the first reason, the Ashkenazic (European Jewish) decisors (Rema, Mordechai, Maharam) maintain that one should also wait after eating cheeses that have a strong taste. Some authorities limit this to a cheese that has matured for at least 6 months, or that has worms in it, even if it is less than 6 months mature. In both cases the cheese is considered "strong tasting" and will give taste for 6 hours. Other authorities maintain (and this is the common custom) that one should wait after any strong tasting cheese even if not matured 6 months. Dutch, Swiss and cheddar cheeses are examples of this.

The Sephardi Jews (Middle Eastern and North African Jews) do not wait after cheese, as this stringency isn't mentioned in the Talmud.

Sources:

  • Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Deah, 89:2
  • Rema 89:2 & Aruch HaShulchan
  • Turei Zahav ad loc. 4
  • Shach and Taz, Yoreh Deah, 89:1


 
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