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Poultry was once not considered fleishig.

If someone had eaten chicken immediately before the rabbis decreed that poultry was fleishig, would he have had to wait his customary number of hours before drinking milk?

I think there is some confusion. A rephrase of the question:

Reuben eats chicken and plans to eat milk during the same meal. After he has a bite of chicken but before he drinks the milk, the Rabbis decree that chicken is to be considered as meat. Since the chicken was not meat when he ate it, may Reuben drink the milk or does the decree affect the past eating?

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I've heard that there's an opinion even today (no source, sorry, was one of those late-night discussions at yeshiva) that holds that you only wait one hour after poultry for exactly this reason. –  Tatpurusha Jun 27 '14 at 23:22
Do you have any evidence that the enactment to wait after meat was enacted before the enactment to treat chicken as meat? I would suspect the opposite is true. –  Double AA Jun 29 '14 at 4:58
@Tatpurusha How would that resolve the issue? –  Daniel Jun 29 '14 at 11:05
(Assuming your premise is correct) who says the decree for chicken postdates the custom of waiting 6 hours? –  Danny Schoemann Jun 29 '14 at 12:01
@DannySchoemann That's what I asked above. –  Double AA Jun 30 '14 at 4:09

1 Answer 1

First of all, as most readers are probably aware, customs vary regarding exactly how long to wait between meat and dairy, and there are indeed customs that differentiate between actual meat and poultry in this regard. However, I believe that the more accepted custom is to wait the same amount of time after meat or poultry.

Like in all matters of halakha, there are differing opinions as to equating meat and poultry in this matter. The Rashba, Ritva, and Piskei Rid (2nd version, all to Chullin 105b) believe one would not have to wait an extended period of time after fowl. Their reasoning is not because poultry 'was once not considered fleishigs' (because after all, the decree to consider it 'fleishigs' may have come before the custom to wait afterwords), but because we hold that poultry is not Biblically ordained as meat. While Tosfos (to 104b) acknowledge that the common practice is to wait the same amount of time, they say that this must be because we believe that poultry is Biblically considered meat, which we actually do not. The Ohr Zarua (1:460) believes that this is the opinion of Rashi as well.

However, the Rambam (Hil. Maachalos Asuros 9:28) writes that there's no difference between the meat of an animal or fowl in this case, and the Riaz (Piskei Riaz Chullin 1:17) writes that such has always been the custom. The Meiri, in his book discussing the justifications of various Provincial customs (Magen Avos inyan 9), discusses at length the custom to wait for the same amount of time between poultry and dairy. He writes that when it comes to Rabbinic decrees, כל דתקון רבנן כעין דאורייתא תקון, these decrees should be treated in the same way as the original Biblical command that the decree is coming to safeguard (note: this isn't exactly the standard interpretation), and because it appears from the Gemara (Chullin 104b) that poultry is equally prohibited to be eaten at the same meal as meat (which is part of the reason for waiting six hours, the usual time between meals). The Rosh (siman 5) also writes that this is the custom, and this is how it's recorded in the Shulchan Aruch (Y.D. 89:1) and agreed upon by the Shach and Gra there.

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