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Kashrut 2: Pareve Food in a Meat or Dairy Pot

by Rabbi Dovid Bendory, I Adar 18 5765 (February 27, 2005)

OK Rabbi, you've convinced me, I need separate pots for milk and meat. Does this mean that vegetables cooked in a meat (dairy) pot are meat (dairy)? Do I need a full set of pareve pots too!?

At first glance, it might seem that the only way to have pareve food is to use a pareve pot, but that's not quite true. First, let's define different "levels" of "meatiness":

  1. Meat itself. Meat itself is meaty; there's no way around it. This is as meaty as meaty can be. It is a Torah prohibition to cook or eat meat with dairy.
  2. Another food cooked with meat. A good example of a tavshil shel basar is a potato cooked in a beef stew. The potato isn't meat, but it is certainly completely permeated with meat tastes. Like meat, a tavshil shel basar can't be cooked or eaten with dairy. (A meat pot would have a similar status.)
  3. Food cooked in a recently used but clean meat pot. Dump out the beef stew and wash the pot clean. The pot is still a meat pot. Boil up some pareve pasta in that pot. Is this pasta pareve or meaty? In other words, how strong of a meat taste is imparted? Can the pasta be eaten with dairy?
  4. Food cooked in an old meat pot. This isn't much different from the prior case, but as we'll see below, the halacha is different if the meat pot hasn't been used in a while.

Yeah, the potato sure is going to taste meaty. But you'll never convince me that the pasta tastes meaty!

I agree with you... and so does the halacha. The Rama says (Yoreh Deah 89:3) that the law today is to treat the tavshil shel basar (the potato) the same way that we treat meat. However, food cooked in a clean meat pot indeed remains pareve and can (sometimes) be eaten with dairy. (See below.) While the pareve food has absorbed tastes from the meat pot, the absorbed tastes are weak — called "not bar not" — and don't make the food as meaty as the tavshil shel basar.

Well that's a relief! So does it matter what pot I cook my vegetables in? It certainly feels funny to make vegetables in a meat pot if I'm going to eat them with a dairy meal.

You're right, that would feel funny, and the halacha does not go quite so far as to do this. Here are some guidelines (see Yoreh Deah 95:1-2):

These guidelines are based on two assumptions:

Questions to ponder:

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