Waiting between Meat and Milk

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In order to separate between eating milk and meat together, Chazal instituted certain procedures to solidify this distinction.

Explanations for Waiting between Meat and Milk

In the Gemara Chulin 105a, Rav Chisda says it’s permitted to eat meat after cheese but forbidden to have cheese after meat. Mar Ukva relates that his father would wait a whole day after having eaten meat to eat cheese, while his practice is to wait from meal to meal. Rashi (Chullin 105a s.v. Asur) explains we’re more strict regarding meat because the taste from the meat and it’s fat stays in the mouth for a very long time. However, the Rambam (Maachalot Asurot 9:28) writes that the reason is that there’s a fear that meat is stuck between one’s teeth. The Tur YD 89:1 says that if one according to Rashi if one just chewed on meat (and didn’t swallow) one doesn’t have to wait because there’s not a strong taste when just chewing meat, if meat is found between one’s teeth after the allotted time one must remove the meat since it still has the taste of meat. However, according to the Rambam if one chewed on meat one must wait as there is a real concern of meat getting stuck in one’s teeth but if meat is found between one’s teeth after the allotted time one doesn’t have to remove it because the one only waited that time so that the meat between one’s teeth would become digested and lose the status of meat. The Tur 89:1 concludes that one should be strict for both opinions. This is the accepted ruling by the S”A 89:1, Shach 89:2, Biur HaGra 89:3, and Taz 89:1. The Pri Megadim (YD M”Z 89:1) writes that according to both reasons (taste of meat and meat stuck in teeth) if one only chewed on a cooked meat dish (not actual meat) one shouldn’t have to wait, however, it’s proper to wait. This is quoted by the Pitchei Teshuva 89:1 and Kaf HaChaim 89:3.

  • Some Rishonim (Tosfot Chullin 104b quoting רבינו תם and Bahag) hold that there’s no minimum amount of time one only needs to wash one’s hands and wash out one’s mouth. The Baal HaMoer, Yerayim (Siman 149) and Raah (Bedek HaBayit pg 83) agree with this.
  • Some Rishonim (Tosfot 105a) say that one shouldn’t have it the same meal but if one makes Bracha Achrona and then eat meat. The Mordechai quotes the Ravyah who agrees to this.
  • The majority of Rishonim (Rosh and Rif) that it’s the time span between the morning and afternoon meal (because in those days they usually only ate two meals). Based on this, the Rambam writes that one must wait the time between one meal and another which is 6 hours. This is also the opinion of ריטב"א, מאירי, and Ran. This is codified in S”A YD 89:1.

Accepted Minhagim

  1. There are basically four different possible minhagim:
    1. waiting 6 hours[1]
    2. waiting less than 6 hours[2]
    3. waiting 3 hours[3]
    4. waiting 1 hour[4]
  2. Sephardim generally hold that one should keep 6 hours. [5]
  3. Some Ashkenazim of German descent have the minhag to keep 3 hours, some Ashkenazim of Dutch descent have the minhag to wait 1 hour, and most Ashkenazim keep 6 hours. [6]
  4. For a child some say that one should gradually build it up, at the age of 2 to wait 1 hour, at age 5 to wait 3 hours, and at age 9 to wait 6 hours [7] while others say that under the age of 9 it’s sufficient to wait one hour (with washing one’s hands and mouth). [8] However, once a child reaches within one year of their Bar/Bat Mitzvah, they should wait the full time [9]



  1. Even for poultry one should wait 6 hours. [10]

Meat Dish

  1. One should wait 6 hours even between a meat dish, parve food cooked with meat, and a dairy dish even if one didn't actually eat any meat. [11]
  2. Food that was cooked in a meat pot is considered parve and one doesn't need to wait 6 hours after eating it, though it can't be eaten together with dairy.[12] This applies even to a dvar charif such as leeks.[13]

Chewed but Didn't Swallow

  1. If one chewed meat but didn’t swallow one should wait 6 hours. [14]
  2. If one only chewed on a cooked meat dish (cooked with real meat) one should wait the allotted time. [15]
  3. If one tasted meat without chewing and immediately spit it out whole then one doesn’t have to wait until eating dairy [16] however, one should first wash out one’s mouth. [17]

How Are Six Hours Calculated?

  1. 6 hours is calculated with 60 minute hours and not Shaot Zmaniot. [18]
  2. 6 hours is begins from when one stopped eating meat and should continue until the beginning of one’s dairy meal. [19]

Meat Stuck in One's Teeth

  1. If one found meat between one’s teeth after 6 hours one should remove the piece of meat before eating dairy. [20]
  2. If one is not concerned and generally there is not meat stuck between his teeth after 6 hours, then one doesn’t need to check before eating dairy, however, if one has gaps in between one’s teeth or the like so that it’s likely that meat got stuck one should check before eating dairy. [21]

In the Same Meal

  1. If one ate a meat meal and continued the meal with parve food for 6 hours one may not have dairy as part of the same meal rather one must make Birkat HaMazon and then have dairy. [22]

Unsure if Six Hours Passed

  1. If one is unsure whether 6 hours passed, some say that one should wait until 6 hours surely passed and some say that one may be lenient and certainly in a case where one only ate chicken and not meat. [23]


  1. Someone sick who needs to eat milk within 6 hours may eat as long as he waited one hour[24] said a bracha achrona on the meat, washed out one's mouth with a food and a drink, brushes one's teeth, and washes one's hands.[25]

Meat Stuck in Your Teeth

  1. The pasuk in parshat Behalotcha says הַבָּשָׂר עוֹדֶנּוּ בֵּין שִׁנֵּיהֶם[26] and according to Chazal this teaches us an interesting insight into Kashrut. The Gemara Chullin 105a infers from the pasuk that if one finds meat in one’s teeth it is still considered meat one’s teeth it is still considered meat and may not be eaten with milk. Practically, if a person finds a piece of meat between his teeth, before eating dairy he must remove it from his teeth.[27]

Hard cheese

  1. Ashkenazim hold that one should wait six hours after eating hard cheese before eating meat. [28]
    1. American cheese is not included in this custom. [29]
  2. According to many poskim, mild cheddar, feta, mozzarella, and muenster cheeses are considered soft cheeses, however, medium, sharp and aged cheddar, and parmesan cheeses are considered hard cheeses. [30]

Clearing off the Table

  1. One can not eat milk on the same table that he has previously eaten meat on until one clears off any pieces of bread that were left over from the previous meal and change the table cloth. [31]
  2. The requirement to clear off bread may also include other types of food that were on the table, depending on how they were eaten from. For instance, if people used their own utensils to take from the salad then the salad must also be removed. [32]
  3. There is a machlokes if we are still required to remove the table clothe since we eat on plates and not on the table itself [33] but our minhag is to still require a place setting [34]


  1. Rambam (Machalot Asurot 9:28), Shulchan Aruch YD 89:1. The Gra 89:2 explains that 6 hours is based on Mar Ukva in Chullin 105a who said one should wait from one meal to another and the fact that the scholars used to eat their morning meal at 6 hours into the day and roughly there would be 6 hours until the dinner meal. The Dagul Mirvavah (Shach 89:3) agrees. Rosh Chullin 8:5 writes that one should wait the amount of time between the morning meal and the night meal. The Badei Hashulchan 89:8 writes that one shouldn't
  2. [Mateh Efraim by Rabbi Efraim Ardit p. 28b http://www.hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=21349&st=&pgnum=59] writes that when the Rambam says like 6 hours he means less than 6 hours. http://www.shtaygen.co.il/?CategoryID=1623&ArticleID=6477 cites the Kol Bo no. 106 s.v. veachar basar as quoting some who thought that shorter than 6 hours is also long enough if one cleans out one's teeth. See there.
  3. The Rabbenu Yerucham (Isur Ve'heter no. 39) writes that one can wait 3 or 4 hours, however, he contradicts himself in his book Toldot Adam Vechavah 15:5 where he writes that one should wait at least 6 hours. See further in an article on daf-yomi.com. Darkei Teshuva 89:6 quoting the Mizmor Ledovid defends the practice of 3 hours based on the fact that in some places in the winter there was only 3 hours time between the morning meal and dinner. The Darkei Teshuva quotes those who dismiss this practice. The Badei Hashulchan 89:35 writes that he didn't find a source for his minhag other than the Chaye Adam 127:10 who says that some are lenient to wait a few hours.
  4. Rama 89:1 writes that the minhag is to wait one hour. The Taz 89:2 explains that really this opinion is based on the Rabbenu Tam and Bahag that one doesn't have to wait any period of time; rather one simply needs to wash out one's mouth with liquids and solids, wash one's hands, and end the meal with a bracha achrona.
  5. S”A YD 89:1, Kaf Hachaim 89:20
  6. Rama 89:1. Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 46:9 says one should wait 6 hours. Rama 89:1 writes that the minhag is to wait 1 hour but concludes that it’s appropriate to wait 6 hours. Shach 89:8 explains that anyone who has a sense of Torah should keep 6 hours. The Biur HaGra explains that the source for the 1 hour minhag is based on the Zohar. Meiri (Chullin 105a) mentions that one should wait 6 hours or close to that. Sh”t Yabia Omer YD 1:4 explains that the hours weren’t precise because they didn’t have an exact way to keep track of time.
  7. Rav Yakov Kamenetsky (Emet L'Yakov 89 no. 36) said that until the age of 3 there's certainly no reason to have the child wait to drink milk and even until the age of 6 is a big chumra. Sh”t Teshuvot VeHanhagot 1:435, Children in Halacha pg. 35 writes that for below the age of 3 a child may eat dairy immediately after but should wash out the mouth, between 3 and 6 should wait at least an hour, beyond 6 should wait the full time
  8. Sh”t Chelkat Yacov 2:88-9, 3:147. Sh"t Yabea Omer YD 1:4 also says for children it is enough to wait only 1 hour
  9. Yalkut Yosef Dinei Chinuch Katan pg. 267
  10. Shulchan Aurch YD 89:1
  11. Yam Shel Shlomo (Chullin 8:5) says one should wait 6 hours between meat dish and a milk dish and even though not everyone says that and you only need to wait between meat dish and cheese but Badai Hashulchan 89:82 says one should be strict.
  12. Rama YD 89:3
  13. Rabbi Akiva Eiger 89 on Shach 89:19
  14. Shulchan Aruch YD 89:1
  15. Pri Megadim (YD M”Z 89:1), Pitchei Teshuva 89:1 and Kaf HaChaim 89:3
  16. Kaf HaChaim 89:4, Rav Yakov Kamenetsky (Emet L'Yakov 89 no. 35)
  17. Darkei Teshuva 89:12, 13, 22
  18. Kaf HaChaim 89:5
  19. Kaf HaChaim 89:9 and Hilchot Baser BeChalav 1:8 based on the Dagul Mirvava 89:1 against the Aruch HaShulchan 89:4 who says to wait from the end of the meal (even not meat foods).
  20. S”A YD 89:1
  21. Kaf HaChaim 89:15
  22. Kaf HaChaim 89:17
  23. Hilchot Baser BeChalav 1:20
  24. Ben Ish Chai (Shana Sheni Shelach no. 11), Kaf Hachaim 89:21, Yabia Omer 1:4:11, Yalkut Yosef 89:22
  25. Badei Hashulchan 89:36. He adds that if it is hard to wait even one hour it is permitted to eat even within one hour as one as long washes one's mouth with a food and a drink, brushes one's teeth, and washes one's hands.
  26. Bamidbar 11:33
  27. The Tur YD 89 says that according to Rashi if one finds meat between one’s teeth before eating dairy one must remove the piece of meat, while according to the Rambam once 6 hours has passed the meat has become digested and lost its status of meat. Shulchan Aruch YD 89:1 rules that even after 6 hours has passed and one finds meat between one’s teeth one must remove it.
  28. Rama YD 89:2. Darkei Teshuva 89:2 quotes the Arizal who wouldn't eat meat for the rest of the day after having eaten hard cheese. Yalkut Yosef YD 89:46 writes that it is permitted according to the strict halacha for sephardim not to wait to have meat after having hard cheese as long as one washes out one's mouth and washes one's hands.
  29. Rav Hershel Schachter in a published pamphlet about Hilchot Shavuot (p. 5) quoting Rav Soloveitchik
  30. Rabbi Avrohom Gordimer in OU's Daf HaKashrus Tamuz 5771 p. 55. Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 46:11 writes (based on the Shach) that hard cheese is cheese that was aged for 6 months.
  31. Shulchan Aruch 89:4, Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 46:12
  32. Badei HaShulchan 89:99
  33. Pischei Teshuva ad loc.
  34. Badei HaShulchan 89:102