Here’s a list of Fun phrases heard (frequently) in my home since becoming kosher observant:
“That’s a milk dish” (not a dish to HOLD milk, mind you)
“No, use a pareve spoon”
“Switch the sink over so we can wash the meat stuff”
Meat and milk. Fleishig and Milcheg. And the red-headed stepchild of kashrut, pareve. If you have considered keeping kosher, or even discussed it in the course of study or conversation, you know that the concept of separating meat and milk is central to the whole game. Derived from the commandment “do not boil a kid in its mother’s milk” (which appears 3 separate times in Torah), the original statement was expanded, elaborated and in many ways made relevant.
But what *is* it that makes something “become” a milk-thing or a meat-thing?
Rabbi Spicerock was quick to explain to Pandora and I that everything starts out neutral (pareve). Fresh from the store, that grill you can’t wait to use is NOT fleishig (notwithstanding your intent to make a pleasing odor to God with that steak). What changes the status of an object, the Rabbi explained, is the combination of coming into contact with either meat or milk, and heat.
If you take a (clean) dairy fork and stick it into a cold piece of brisket, NOTHING HAPPENS (from a kashrut perspective). Or, to use the example from this page, “you could use the same knife to slice cold cuts and cheese, as long as you clean it in between”.
Contact and heat.
This is a huge sticking point between Pandora and I. It has led to (forgive me) heated discussions in (and about) the kitchen.
I will admit that I have a tendency to play fast and loose with rules (any rules. I definitely agree with this cartoon – I live at either end and try to get through the boring high-point of the bell curve as quickly as possible). And I also admit that Pandora’s careful approach to things leads to fewer mistakes and more calm. With 4 children in the house, I appreciate any ounce of calm and order she is able to wrestle away from the chaos that is our daily life.
But there comes a point (like when we have 3 nearly complete sets of everything) that I have to push back a little.
So I did. Rabbi Spicerock came over for a quick touch-base, to see how we were doing and answer some questions. Mine among them.
If he paused in his response, if he showed even the slightest hesitation in his answer it was imperceptible.
“Oh no,” he said, “She’s absolutely right. That’s the better way to go.”
Which effectively stuck a fork (milcheg or fleishig – I still say it wouldn’t matter) into the discussion.