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At what point in Jewish history did waiting 6 hours between milk and meat become the uniform approach in most communities (or in some places 1 hour or 3 hours)? Prior to communities adopting uniform rules, it appears the Rabbis had quite varied opinions on when it was acceptable to consume milk after meat.

Rabbeinu Tam's tradition, for example, would be considered not kosher by the frum community today (see, for example: Tosfot Chullin 104b quoting Rabbeinu Tam and Bahag, holding that there’s no minimum amount of time -- one only needs to wash one’s hands and wash out one’s mouth. The Taz (89:2) cites an explanation of the practice of some to wait one hour between meat and milk as a "compromise" (suggesting a big enough divide if acknowledged like this) between the opinion of Tosafists who holds that Birkat Hamazon is the only boundary needed between the two meals and the Rambam who believes that we must wait approximately six hours. Indeed, if someone ate meat and forgot, and within the 6 hours he picked up a glass of milk, and he made ‘Shehakol Nehiye Bidvaro’ Ovadia Yosef discusses this question in Yichave Da’at and says as follows if a person made this mistake, he definitely should taste from the milk, because the other option of not tasting brings a bigger problem of Beracha Livatala. He is lenient on the law of 6 hours because opinions of those in the camp of the Tosafot that hold that the law of 6 hours does not even apply and that you are not allowed to eat milk and meat in the same Seuda but outside the same Seuda, it’s OK.

Was there a point in time or major event that led to such conformity on a topic that had such diversity in opinion amongst early halachic leaders?

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    Related (and possibly helpful): judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/11814/… – Isaac Moses May 10 at 18:52
  • "quite varied" this is silly. There is exactly one opinion that isn't waiting hours and you've listed it. There was never some great diversity which changed to relative uniformity. There were two options and people are now usually strict for both. – Double AA May 10 at 19:16
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    No, the Minhag is to follow both! Chas Veshalom for an Ashkenazi to be lenient against Tosfot! I can list you Acharonim who thought being strict for Rambam is worthwhile, but that doesn't prove how people took it on. They just did. Some Chumras catch on and some don't. Listing rabbis who supported a Chumra as cause for change is but speculation – Double AA May 10 at 19:49
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    That's a question you can ask in general about any time the practice nowadays is not in accordance with some respected Rishon (which is nearly always the case). Jews have always had great respect for people following alternate legitimate opinions. And if Rabbenu Tam came to visit us today I'm sure he'd agree with that. – Double AA May 10 at 19:58
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    See also judaism.stackexchange.com/q/18735/170 (and also judaism.stackexchange.com/q/95251/170 but it hasn't any upvoted answers). – msh210 May 11 at 20:42
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You asked:

At what point in Jewish history did waiting 6 hours between milk and meat become the uniform approach in most communities (or in some places 1 hour or 3 hours)?

According to this article it was the Rif (Rabbi Yitzchak Alfasi 1013-1103) who instituted the fixed waiting time.

Read the article for sources and background.

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    Interesting blog post. Thank you. – Mordechai May 13 at 16:19

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