– Author: Rav Doron Podlashuk

A common question that arises when dealing with the laws of basar b’chalav is whether bread or other pareve foods that were cooked or reheated in the oven at the same time as meat may be eaten together with dairy. This question is complex as it deals with two separate sugyot: reicha, aroma, and zei’a, steam. This article will focus on the topic of reicha.

The Gemara in Masechet Pesachim[1] quotes a ruling of Rav Kahana as follows:

תני רב כהנא בריה דרב חיננא סבא: פת שאפאה עם צלי בתנור – אסור לאכלה בכותחא.

Rav Kahana, son of Rav Chinnana the Elder, teaches: In the case of bread that one baked together with roasting meat in the oven, it is prohibited to eat the bread with kutach, a type of dairy yogurt.” Why did Rav Kahana prohibit this? Is this another restriction and separation that the Rabbis enacted between meat and milk similar to those mentioned in the Tzurba shiur, or is this something more fundamental? As we shall see, this is essentially a dispute among the Rishonim.

The classic understanding of most Rishonim is that this stringency is not unique to the laws of basar b’chalav but is applicable to all types of prohibited mixtures. This is based on the principle of reicha, aroma, meaning that the meaty aroma present in the oven has been absorbed on some level by the bread, and it is therefore prohibited to eat the bread with dairy. However, some Rishonim understand that this prohibition is unique to basar b’chalav and does not necessarily have anything to do with the question of whether reicha milta or lav milta – whether aroma is of significance or not.

In order to understand this argument, we need to examine the sugya of reicha (aroma). This sugya is located in the same location in Masechet  Pesachim[2] as the passage previously quoted, and the Gemara states that it is subject to a dispute between Rav and Levi.

Rav said: Fatty kosher meat that one roasted in an oven together with lean non-kosher meat is forbidden, even if the two meats never came into contact with one another. What is the reason for this halakha? It is that they are flavored from one another. The fatty meat emits an aroma that is absorbed in the non-kosher meat. The aroma is then transferred back to the kosher meat, causing the kosher meat to absorb some aroma from the non-kosher meat.

And Levi said: That aroma does not cause meat to be forbidden. Even lean kosher meat that one roasted with fatty non-kosher meat is permitted. What is the reason for this halakha? Although the non-kosher meat emits an aroma that is absorbed into the kosher meat, it is merely an aroma, and an aroma is nothing significant.

According to the Gemara here, Rav holds that aroma is of significance, whereas Levi states that reicha lav milta, aroma is of no significance.

Rashi[3]  rules in accordance with Levi that reicha is insignificant. He explains that even though the Gemara concludes the argument between Rav and Levi with the statement of Rav Kahana brought above – that if one cooked bread together with meat, it is prohibited to eat the bread with dairy, implying that aroma is significant in accordance with Rav, the opinion of Rav Kahana is not accepted. This is because we find a similar argument between Abaye and Rava in the Gemara in Avoda Zara[4] whether reicha is of significance. The Gemara there discusses whether it is permitted for a Jew to smell the wine of a non-Jew (from which it is prohibited to derive benefit)[5] in order to ascertain how long the wine will last. Abaye forbids this, as it is considered deriving benefit, while Rava states that this is considered reicha and reicha lav milta hi. Rashi explains that since the halacha is in accordance with Rava when he argues with Abaye in all of Shas (other than six cases[6]) – it must be that the halacha here follows Levi, who agrees with Rava.

In contrast to Rashi, Tosafot[7] quote Rabbeinu Tam who holds that the halacha is in accordance with Rav that aroma is significant and hence the kosher meat would indeed be prohibited if cooked together with a neveila. Tosafot assert that the fact that Rava paskened reicha lav milta regarding the wine is not relevant to our sugya, as the two   cases are very different. Tosafot[8] opine that the reason Rava states that aroma is insignificant is because the smell of the wine is very potent and damaging to one’s health.

With regard to other cases of aroma, though, Rabbeinu Tam argues that it is significant based on the fact (among other proofs) that the Gemara in Pesachim (after a long debate whether aroma is significant or not) concluded with the ruling of Rav Kahana.

Tosafot and Rashi both understood that the reason Rav Kahana prohibits the bread that was baked with meat to be eaten with dairy is because the bread absorbed the aroma of the meat. They only argue whether his opinion is accepted in halacha or not.

The Rif[9] agrees with Rashi that the halacha is in accordance with Levi that reicha lav milta hi, and brings many proofs to substantiate this claim and rebut those who rule like Rav. Regarding the proof raised by Tosafot that Rav Kahana prohibited bread that was baked in an oven with meat to be eaten with dairy, the Rif explains that the case of the bread is different and even Levi would agree to this stringency. He gives two reasons why the case of bread is different.

  1. Although Levi holds that aroma is insignificant, this is only in a situation of bedi’eved where such cooking already occurred. But even Levi would agree that it would be prohibited initially to roast kosher meat together with a neveila simultaneously in the same oven. In the case of the bread, since after it is baked with meat it may still be eaten without dairy, permitting one to eat it with dairy would be akin to saying that one can cook kosher meat lechatchila with neveila meat.
  2. This is a case of davar sheyesh lo matirin (something that could become permitted). Since one could eat the bread without dairy, it is considered like a davar sheyesh lo matirin, which is never nullified even when found in a mixture of one in a thousand.

However the Ran[10] challenges both of the Rif’s explanations concerning the case of Rav Kahana. Firstly, the Ran argues that Levi held his opinion even lechatchila and therefore the Rif’s distinction is not valid. He also argues that this cannot be a case of davar sheyesh lo matirin, as even a davar sheyesh lo matirin is nullified when it is min b’sheino mino.[11]

Nevertheless, the Ran still agrees with Rashi and the Rif that the halacha follows Levi. The question is why then would the Gemara conclude with the statement of Rav Kahana forbidding the bread? The Ran gives three possible answers.

  1. Rav Kahana disagrees with Levi but nevertheless we do not concern ourselves with his opinion since we follow Rava.[12]
  2. Although Rav Kahana in truth rules like Levi that reicha lav milta, in this case since the flavor of the meat can be discerned in the bread, people eating this bread with dairy might come to the erroneous conclusion that actual meat was absorbed in the bread and mistakenly permit other cases where there is a real mixture of meat and milk.
  3. The Rabbis were extra stringent regarding meat and milk since lo bedili inshei minei, people are not careful to separate themselves from them (as meat and dairy are in and of themselves permitted).

Although both the Rif and Ran rule in accordance with Levi, there is an inherent difference between their answers that will have ramifications for other cases. The Ran’s  last two answers hold that that the stringency of the bread baked with meat is unique to basar b’chalav and has nothing to do with the sugya of reicha. This is also the opinion of the Ramban,[13] who writes the following:

ולי נראה דהא דתני רב כהנא בריה דרב חיננא סבא ודרבא מפרזיקא לא מסייע ליה לרב, דהתם גזירה בעלמא הוא דכיון דאיכא טעם בשר בחלב אף על גב דריחא בעלמא הוא מתחזי כבשר בחלב ואסור, שהרי איסורו בטעם ואלו לא ידע האוכל שמן הריח קלט היה כאוכל בשר בחלב, אבל בשאר איסורין אין הטועם אותן מכיר בהם שהם איסור עד שידע מאיזה מין קלט טעם זה, ואם בא לשאול יאמרו לו מריח קלט ואין בו ממש, ועוד שגזרו בבשר בחלב יותר משאר איסורין מפני שמקילין בו ולא פרשי אינשי מיניה הואיל וכל אחד היתר בפ”ע, אבל שאר איסורין בדילי אינשי מינייהו, והרי כמה גדרים גדרו בבשר בחלב שאינו עולה על שלחן אחד משא”כ בשאר איסורין.

“It seems to me that what was taught by Rav Kahana the son of Rav Chinnana the elder and Rava from Parzeika does not support the opinion of Rav. For there it is an independent gezeira, for since the flavor of meat is in the milk, even though it is only reicha, it appears to people as meat and milk, and is forbidden. For the prohibition is based on flavor and if the eater does not know that this is only absorbed aroma, he will think he is eating meat and milk. But regarding other prohibitions, the eater does not know what the flavor of issur is until he discerns it. And if he comes to ask, they will inform him that it is only aroma and not actual flavor. Furthermore, more gezeirot were made regarding basar b’chalav compared to other prohibitions, for people are more lenient regarding this and do not separate themselves from it, as each item is considered permissible in and of itself. But regarding other prohibitions, people separate themselves. This is true as we have seen many examples where the Sages instituted restrictions for meat and milk, such as placing them on the same table, which are not found with regard to other prohibitions.”

As opposed to the Ran and Ramban, the Rif holds that this stringency falls within the halachot of reicha, where sometimes when bitul is not applicable – reicha milta hi.

This argument between the Ran and Rif leads us to two fascinating points. Firstly, we can understand that their argument hinges on two ways of understanding the principle “reicha lav milta.” Secondly, their explanations will have other practical ramifications beyond the question of basar b’chalav.

Two Ways of Understanding Reicha Lav Milta – Aroma has no Significance

According to the Rif, although Levi rules that reicha lav milta, it does not mean that aroma is entirely insignificant. Rather, the Rif understands that the aroma exists yet it becomes insignificant as it becomes batel – nullified. This is why according to the Rif, even Levi holds that it is prohibited lechatchila to cook kosher meat with non-kosher meat in the same oven, since ein mevatlin issur lechatchila[14] (it is prohibited to nullify prohibitions deliberately). This also fits the Rif’s explanation as to why it is prohibited to eat the bread that was baked with meat together with dairy. He mentions that since it is a davar sheyesh lo matirin, it is not nullified.

On the other hand, the Ran who holds that Levi’s leniency applies even lechatchila[15]  understands that the reason for reicha lav milta is because it has no significance at all and it is not dependent on bitul.[16]

Practical Ramification #1 – Chametz

If the Rif’s understanding of Levi’s leniency is based on the principle of bitul, then what would be the halacha regarding chametz that was baked together with matza in the same oven? Since chametz is not nullified on Pesach even in a ratio of one in a thousand,[17] here too it would seem that the Rif would rule reicha milta hi.

The Mordechai[18] writes of a case where a gentile threw a chametz cake into the oven on Pesach while matzot were being baked in it. The Mordechai ruled that only the parts of matza that actually touched the bread are forbidden but the other parts of matza were permitted since we rule reicha lav milta. It is logical to suggest that the Rif would argue and prohibit all of the matzot in the oven, whereas the Ran would rule leniently like the Rif.

However, even according to the Ran there might be another reason to be stringent regarding chametz. One of the reasons the Ran gave as to why we are stringent regarding the bread baked with meat is because when it comes to meat and milk, lo bedili inshei minei, people do not separate themselves from it. Since meat in and of itself is permitted as is dairy, people are not as careful regarding these items as they would if a non-kosher food was found in their kitchen. This logic would also apply to chametz, as is mentioned by Tosafot[19] and the Ran himself.[20]

We can summarize this as follows. Although the Rif holds that aroma is insignificant, this is based on the fact that the aroma is actually nullified. Hence, where the principles of nullification do not apply, such as concerning davar sheyesh lo matirin (bread baked together with meat) or chametz on Pesach, the Rif would rule stringently.  The Ran would always be stringent regarding cases of “lo bedili inshei minei” such as basar b’chalav and chametz on Pesach.

Practical ramification #2 – A Large Oven

Tosafot, who pasken like Rav that reicha milta hi – aroma is significant – state that this is only true if the oven is small. However, if the two pieces of meat are roasted in a large oven, even Rav would agree that reicha lav milta hi. This is based on the assumption that aroma is equivalent to actual substance, and therefore if the area is too large, the substance would not be able to be transferred. This would presumably also be the opinion of the Rif, who discussed terminology of nullification, implying that we are concerned for a physical transfer of taste, which may or may not occur depending on the size of the area in question.

However, the Ran might be stringent when it comes to basar b’chalav. This is because according to his last answer, the reason to be stringent regarding the bread has nothing to do with actual transmission of taste but is rather due to the fact that the Rabbis were extra stringent since people are not careful. If so, this would apply even in the case of a  large oven. On the other hand, the Ran’s second answer is that the reason to be stringent is that people would be able to discern the meaty flavor in the bread, implying that when this is not discernible, such as in a big oven, it would be permissible according to this answer.

How do the Shulchan Aruch and Rema Pasken?

The Shulchan Aruch seems to consistently rule in accordance with the Rif’s understanding; namely, that although we rule that reicha lav milta, this is only bedi’eved.[21] Similarly, if one baked bread in an oven together with meat- it is prohibited to eat this with dairy.[22] However, if the oven is large then it would be permitted.[23]

The opinion of the Rema is less clear. In Hilchot Pesach, the Rema states the following:[24] “And regarding the law of reicha milta, in a case where meat was roasted[25] with chametz in the same oven, some are lenient[26] where this would be the same regarding other prohibitions (meaning that bedi’eved it would be permitted) and some are stringent for there is still some substance here.” Thus, in the case of chametz the Rema brings both opinions and seems to have left the matter undecided,.

In Yoreh De’ah, the Rema[27] rules that if one baked bread together with meat, it is forbidden to eat the bread with milk if one has other bread available. Similarly, if a gentile baked bread together with a prohibited substance, one may not buy the bread if other bread is available, though if one does not have other bread readily available, one may eat both.

The Bi’ur HaGra[28] explains that this leniency of the Rema goes against the Rif, for according to the Rif this would be considered lechatchila and be prohibited. Nevertheless, the Rema felt that this situation is considered bedi’eved and hence allows for the leniency. The Gra himself does not accept this leniency of the Rema.

Perhaps the argument between the Gra and the Rema in how to define bedi’eved is connected to how we explained the argument between the Ran and the Rif. The Gra understood the notion of bedi’eved within the principles laid down by the Rif. Since it is predicated on bitul having taken place – in this case, where bread has not yet come in contact with dairy, why would it be permitted to eat the bread with dairy?

The Rema, on the other hand, understood the principle of bedi’eved in a different fashion, similar to sha’at hadechak k’bedi’eved dami. In other words, the problem here is not one of bitul, as really reicha lav milta means that the aroma is viewed as insignificant, irrespective of nullification. Rather, the Chachamim did not want us to lechatchila enter certain situations (either because it will cause confusion or marit ayin, or the actual foods might come in contact with each other,[29] causing complications beyond reicha). However, where the situation is unavoidable this would be considered  k’bedi’eved dami.


We have seen that the question of whether one may eat bread that was baked in an oven together with meat may be eaten with dairy is actually a machloket Rishonim.

Although Rav Kahana explicitly prohibited eating this bread with dairy, Rashi holds that it is permitted as reicha Lav Milta hi.

The Rif states that it is prohibited because in this case reicha milta hi – as there is no bitul, or this is not considered a bedi’eved situation (i.e., one cannot activate the principle of bitul).

The Ran and Ramban also prohibit eating the bread with dairy, but due to the fact that this is a special stringency of basar b’chalav and is not connected to the sugya of reicha.

The Shulchan Aruch rules like the Rif, as does the Gra, whereas the Rema has differing rulings that might suggest he rules like the Ran.

According to all the opinions we have seen, it is quite clear that cooking foods one after the other would not pose a problem. Therefore, if one cooked roasted meat in an oven and then later baked bread in the same oven (after the meat was removed), it would be permitted to eat the bread with dairy. However, this is by no means a simple matter in halacha, as although there is no problem of reicha where the foods are not cooked simultaneously, there might still be a problem of zei’a (steam), but this is beyond the purview of this article.[30]

[1] Masechet Psachim 76b

[2] Ibid.

[3] Rashi, Pesachim 76b, s.v. amar lecha rav

[4] Avoda Zara 66b

[5] See Avoda Zara 29b and 36a

[6] See Bava Metzia 22b

[7] Tosafot, Pesachim 76b, s.v. asra Rava Miparzika

[8] Tosafot, Avoda Zara 66b, s.v. Rava amar

[9] Rif, Chullin 32b in the dapei haRif

[10] Ibid s.v.

[11] The Ran himself defends the Rif’s opinion in his novel explanation of the principle of davar sheyesh lo matirin in Nedarim 52b

[12] This answer effectively agrees with Rashi that there would be no problem halachically to eat the bread with dairy.

[13] Ramban, Avoda Zara 66b, s.v. v’li nireh

[14] Mishna Terumot 5:9; see also Shulchan Aruch, Y.D. 98:5

[15] There is a dispute regarding how Rashi understands Levi. Tosafot, Pesachim 76b, s.v. mai lav, understand that Rashi agrees that Levi only permits this bedi’eved. See also Ohr Zarua, piskei Avoda Zara 256. The Sefat Emet, Pesachim 76b, holds that Rashi permits it even lechatchila unless there are specific issues with which to be concerned.

[16] It is possible that this is because the flavor is not transmittable, but this is difficult, since the Ran himself in his second answer states that the reason to be stringent with bread is because the meaty flavor is discernible in the bread. Some Acharonim explain that although there may be flavor in the bread, the Torah was mechadeish that only ta’am k’ikar (flavor is equivalent to substance), but not aroma. Although the aroma ultimately also gives flavor, this is not prohibited by the Torah or rabbinically. This seems to the simple reading of the Ramban in his commentary to Avoda Zara.

[17] See Rema, Y.D. 102:4, for differing opinions regarding the status of chametz, as well as Tosafot, Pesachim 76b, s.v. asra Rava.

[18] Mordechai, Pesachim remez 570. See the Darkei Moshe 108:1 for his source for this ruling.

[19] Tosafot, Pesachim 2a, s.v. ohr

[20] 2a of dapei haRif

[21] Shulchan Aruch 108:1

[22] Shulchan Aruch 97:3

[23] Ibid.

[24] Rema, Orach Chaim 447

[25] Although the Rema uses the language of tavshil, the Mishna Berura says that it must be referring to a roast, as is clarified in Yoreh De’ah 108.

[26] The Chok Yaakov, Orach Chaim 447:10, explains that nothing leaves the chametz via aroma.

[27] Rema, Yoreh De’ah 108

[28] Bi’ur HaGra, ibid.

[29] See Sefat Emet quoted earlier.

[30] We will deal with this issue in the coming volumes of the English Tzurba MeRabanan series in the context of using ovens for meat and dairy.

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