Avatar Anon asked Staff ago


Much of what I have learned in Oral Law classes has caused me to ask my teachers questions, the answers to which usually were, “Forget it, you wouldn’t understand, it’s something from tradition…” This site has strengthened my faith that the wisdom which the Jewish sages achieved is merely a product of general human knowledge. Thank you for your hard work, and please continue to enlighten people.

About a month ago we learned the laws of meat and milk. The teacher explained that if something boiling falls into something cool there is one law, and if something cool falls into something boiling, there is another. I immediately thought of Newton’s Third Law.

I would be happy to get an explanation of the laws. How did they decide something like this in the first place? It sounds hallucinatory!

I asked my teacher, incidentally, why they don’t simply say it’s all unkosher; the laws as they stand sound like nonsense. He explained that in the period in which the laws were written meat was very expensive and they couldn’t just throw it or the cooked dishes out without a second thought.

Thank you,


1 Answers
Avataradmin Staff answered 13 years ago

Dear Tali,

Chazal made up a lot of things, and this is one of the many such topics which we have presented on this site.

The laws of cooking meat and milk are like the laws of cooking on the Sabbath. In the laws of cooking on the Sabbath the Talmud has drawn a distinction between hot water found in a primary vessel (a pot which has been warmed, along with the water, on a fire) and hot water which has been poured into a secondary vessel (a cool pot which was not on the fire), even though the water temperature in both vessels is identical. Chazal said in the Talmud: “A secondary vessel does not cook” (Shabbat 40b) and permitted cooking in a secondary vessel, even when the temperature of the combined (hot and cool) waters passes the 45 degree Celsius mark (yad soldet, the temperature at which the hand flinches), which is the temperature which Chazal ruled to be cooking in a primary vessel. The Rashba, a Talmudic commentator, tries to explain this absurdity and says that the heat of the water after the mixture is not because the cool water heated up, but because the heated water did not cool.

For more detail, see our answer to According to Chazal, mixed waters remain at different temperatures.

Your teacher’s answer is completely incorrect. It seems he made it up because he was helpless to answer the question that you raised.


Daat Emet

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