The Sages of the Talmud,(1) in their infinite wisdom, determined
that eating meat and fish together(2) is a sakanah, injurious to one's
health. Although medical science admits of no evidence that eating meat
and fish together causes illness, we accept the Rabbis' decree
unequivocally, for we know that their pronouncement are sacrosanct, their
knowledge being as close to Divine wisdom as is humanly attainable. Indeed
there have been poskim, most notably the Magen Avraham,(3) who have ruled
that environmental conditions have changed so, that what once posed a
danger no longer does and this prohibition no longer applies.(4) But the
vast majority of poskim disagree(5) and the basic halachah forbids eating
meat (including poultry(6)) and fish together.(7) This is surely the
universal custom and should be strictly adhered to.(8)
Since it is prohibited to mix meat and fish in any way, one should
also not bake a pot of fish and a pot of meat together in the same oven,
unless at least one of the pots is tightly covered. If both pots were left
uncovered, then even b'dieved it is questionable if the foods may be eaten.
(9) A rav should be consulted.
Bread that was baked in an oven together with an uncovered pot of
fish may be eaten together with meat, and vice versa. But bread or any
other food that was baked, cooked or roasted in a pot together with fish
may not be eaten with meat, and vice versa.(10)
POTS AND DISHES
The prohibition against eating fish and meat applies only when the
two foods themselves are actually mixed together. But the ta'am (meat or
fish taste) exuding from inside the pots or dishes used in their
preparation or consumption is of no consequence. There is no requirement
to set aside separate dishes and pots for the use of fish and meat. It is,
* to cook meat in a pot, remove the meat, scrub the pot thoroughly and
then cook fish in that pot even on the same day.(11)
* to bake an uncovered pot of fish in an oven and then bake an uncovered
pot of meat in the same oven, as long as the oven walls are wiped clean of
* to use the same grinder to grind both meat and then fish, even if onions
or other sharp foods were added, provided that the blade and receptacle
are wiped clean.(13)
* to use a clean meaty knife to slice onions that will be cooked with fish.
Similarly, if some chicken soup, for example, inadvertently splashed
against the outside of a pot containing fish while it was cooking on the
stove, the fish may be eaten. This is because only the ta'am of the
chicken will affect the fish in this manner, and that, as stated earlier,
is of no consequence.(15)
Even if, inadvertently, fish and meat were actually cooked together
in the same pot [and thus may not be eaten], the pot that was used does
not need to undergo a koshering process in order to be used in the future.
It is sufficient to merely scrub it clean and wait twenty-four hours
before using it again.(16)
WHEN FISH AND MEAT ARE EATEN CONSECUTIVELY:
The Rishonim debate the degree of severity to which the prohibition
against eating fish and meat together extends. Some maintain that we must
avoid the mixture to such a degree that even a greasy film which lingers
in the mouth or on the hands must be carefully washed off before eating
meat after fish, or vice versa. Others, however, hold that we need not be
concerned with fatty residue and there is no need to wash one's mouth and
hands between eating fish and meat. The final halachah, basically, follows
the second opinion.(17)
The following rules apply when both fish and meat will be served at
the same meal:
Care must be taken that the foods do not mix. Silverware that was
used for fish should not be used for meat unless they are rinsed in
between. But it is permitted to place both of the foods on the table at
the same time.(18) While it is customary in many places to eat fish before
meat, this is not a requirement and it is permitted l'chatchilah to eat
meat before fish.(19)
Although, as stated earlier, we are generally not concerned with
fatty residue and one is not required to wash his hands(20) and mouth
between fish and meat, the poskim do require some type of break between
eating fish and meat. Some(21) require that a drink(22) be taken between
them, while others(23) stipulate that a food item be eaten in addition to
QUESTION: What could be done if, inadvertently, a piece of fish
a pot of chicken soup?
DISCUSSION: After removing the piece of fish from the soup [if it
found] one must estimate whether or not there is sixty times more soup
[including vegetables, etc.] than the piece of fish that fell into it. If
there is 60 times more soup, then the soup is permitted to be eaten.(25)
If not, then the soup should not be eaten.(26) Under extenuating
circumstances [e.g., discarding the soup would entail a serious monetary
loss; the soup is needed for Shabbos or for important guests; shalom
bayis, etc.] it is permitted to add more water or other ingredients to the
soup so that there will be sixty times more soup than the piece of fish.
QUESTION: Kosher Worcestershire sauce lists anchovies among its
ingredients, yet many people use it in preparing steak and other meats. Is
DISCUSSION: It depends which brand of Worcestershire sauce is being
In most brands, the anchovy content is so small that the other ingredients
easily exceed it by sixty times. It is therefore permitted to use those
brands with meat. But some brands of Worcestershire sauce, notably Lea and
Perrins, Shoprite and Great Value, contain a greater percentage of fish,
and those may not be used with meat.(28) When in doubt, the kashruth
agency supervising the product should be consulted.
QUESTION: In some communities the custom is not to eat fish
milk [and milk products] as well. Is there any source for this? Should
this custom be adopted?
DISCUSSION: There are several early sources who warn against mixing
with milk or milk products. Rabbeinu Bachayei( 29) writes that doctors
believe that eating cheese with fish can lead to all kinds of diseases,
and the Beis Yosef (30) warns against drinking milk together with fish.
But almost all of the latter poskim discount this danger and some go so
far as to say that the entire issue is based on a copyist's error!(31)
Others suggest that we follow current medical opinion concerning this
question, since it is a medical - not a halachic - issue.32 Consequently,
only those communities who have traditionally banned the eating of fish
and milk together should follow their tradition,(33) but it is not a
custom that others should adopt.(34)
1 Pesachim 76b.
2 The Talmudic advisory warns only against eating fish and meat that were
roasted together. The Rishonim deduced that eating them together even if
they were prepared separately is also prohibited; see Tur Y.D. 116:2 and
3 Quoted without comment by the Mishnah Berurah 173:3 and Aruch ha-
Shulchan Y.D. 116:10. This is also the view of Teshuvos Maharshdam 4:124,
quoting Sefer ha-Kaneh.
4 Note that the Rambam does not mention this prohibition at all, probably
for the reasons mentioned by the Magen Avraham; see Chasam Sofer Y.D. 101
and Tiferes Tzvi 91.
5 See Chachmas Adam 68:1, Shulchan Aruch ha-Rav (Shemiras Guf v'Nefesh 9),
Maharam Shick Y.D. 244; Yad Efrayim Y.D. 116:3 quoting Shevus Ya'akov
3:70, and Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 33:1 who all either question or ignore the
Magen Avraham's opinion.
6 Pischei Teshuvah Y.D. 116:2.
7 The poskim do, however, take the Magen Avraham's view into consideration
and allow for some leniency in certain questionable situations; see note
11 and 13.
9 If the oven was small and tightly closed then we are concerned with
reicha - that one food will absorb the aroma emitted by the other
(Chachmas Adam 68:1). In larger ovens, where reicha is less of a problem,
zei'ah - steam which carries the taste of one food to the other - is still
10 Taz Y.D. 116:2. See Chalkas Yaakov 1:109.
11 Taz Y.D. 95:3, quoted by most of the latter poskim. There is a minority
view that holds that separate pots should be used for cooking fish and
meat (see Tur Y.D. 116:2, quoted by Chachmas Adam 68:1). Although the
basic halachah does not require it (see also note 7), it is customary in
many homes to have separate pots for fish and meat.
12 See previous note.
13 Darkei Teshuvah 116:23. There is a minority view that recommends not
using the same grinder for fish and meat if they are going to be ground
with onions or garlic, but the basic halachah permits it; see Shevet ha-
14 See previous note.
15 Pri Megadim, quoted by Reb Akiva Eiger Y.D. 116:2.
16 Divrei Malkiel 2:53; Kaf ha-Chayim Y.D. 116:3; Shemiras ha-Guf
V'hanefesh 1:26 quoting Harav P. Epstein. A minority opinion holds that
when koshering is possible (e.g., a metal pot), it should be done; see
Pischei Teshuvah Y.D. 116:3 and Shevet ha-Levi 6:111.
17 Rama Y.D. 116:3; Mishnah Berurah 173:4. Sefaradim, however, rule in
accordance with the first opinion and are careful to wash their mouth and
hands between eating fish and meat; Kaf ha-Chayim O.C. 173:4; Yalkut Yosef
18 Noda b'Yehudah (Kama) E.H. 13; Shevet ha-Levi 6:111; Yabia Omer Y.D
6:9. It is also permitted for two people to eat fish and meat on the same
table at the same time, even while sharing the same tablecloth; Kaf ha-
Chayim O.C. 173:6.
19 See Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 33:1 and Ben Ish Chai, Pinchas 8:10. See also
Shulchan Aruch O.C. 173:2 and Y.D. 116:2: between meat and fish ...
20 In the atypical case [e.g., silverware is not being used] when the
hands are soiled from fish, they should be wiped clean before partaking of
meat; see Pri To'ar Y.D. 116:3.
21 Chachmas Adam 68:1, quoted by Sha'ar ha-Tziyun 173:2. There is no need
to swish the drink around in the mouth.
22 For unknown reasons, Tosfos, Moed Katan 11a (quoted by Reb Akiva Eiger
Y.D. 116 and by Kaf ha-Chayim 170:79), advises against drinking water [or
soda] after fish. She'arim Metzuyanim B'halachah 33:2 suggests that for
this reason whiskey - and not water - is customarily drunk between fish
23 Rama Y.D. 116:3, quoted by Mishnah Berurah 173:4.
24 A food item dipped in wine or another beverage covers both
requirements; Y.D. 116:3, as explained by Perishah 23.
25 Chachmas Adam 68:1; Pischei Teshuvah 116:3; Aruch ha-Shulchan 116:10.
While a minority view maintains that "dangers" such as fish and meat
together are not bateil b'shishim (Taz Y.D. 116:2), most poskim do not
accept this stringency.
26 If it is questionable whether or not there is sixty times more soup
than fish, some poskim are lenient while others are stringent. A rav
should be consulted.
27 Although there is a general rule that bitul b'shishim must happen on
its own and one cannot cause it to happen intentionally, many poskim
permit doing so concerning a fish and meat mixture; see Pischei Teshuvah
Y.D. 116:3 and Divrei Malkiel 2:53. Since other poskim disagree (see
Darkei Teshuvah 116:20-21), one should rely on this leniency only under
28 The Orthodox Union, for instance, designates an OU Fish symbol for
those sauces that should not be used with meat
29 Shemos 23:19, quoted by Pischei Teshuvah Y.D. 87:9.
30 Y.D. 87:3.
31 See Taz Y.D. 87:3 and Shach 5 and Machazik Berachah 4.
32 See Darkei Teshuvah Y.D. 87:43 and Kaf ha-Chayim O.C. 173:3.
33 The Sefaradim, especially, are careful not to mix cheese or milk with
fish (Ben Ish Chai, Beha'alos'echa 15) but most are lenient concerning
butter with fish; Yechaveh Da'as 6:48.