Genesis 18:8 (JPS):

And he took curd, and milk, and the calf which he had dressed, and set it before them; and he stood by them under the tree, and they did eat.

Looks like Abraham and 3 mysterious visitors don't mind eating mixed milk and calf. If Jews don't eat cheeseburgers, why did Abraham serve a calf with milk?

  • Duplicate? judaism.stackexchange.com/q/4078
    – msh210
    Commented Dec 31, 2013 at 6:52
  • @msh210 I believe so. "Avraham serving milk/meat together" is a specific example of that question.
    – Double AA
    Commented Dec 31, 2013 at 7:00
  • possible duplicate of Avot keeping Mitzvot Commented Dec 31, 2013 at 7:18
  • 2
    Not every question that overlaps is a duplicate. There are opinions which would qualify as an answer to the "duplicate" question that would leave this one unanswered.
    – Yirmeyahu
    Commented Dec 31, 2013 at 7:55
  • 2
    @ShmuelBrin, Conversely, if you were to merge these two questions the answer I have given here would be entirely irrelevant to the "duplicate" question.
    – Yirmeyahu
    Commented Dec 31, 2013 at 8:10

6 Answers 6


I do not have the precise location but I was taught that the Yalkut Yoseph brings down eight answers/considerations to this question. Here are some highlights:

According to Rashi the milk was served first which is entirely permissable. According to the Maharal, Avraham only fulfilled the positive commandments while the Gra brings opinions that he wasn't particular regarding Rabbinic commandments (there is no indication the meat and dairy where cooked together which would constitute a Torah prohibition). And regardless of his own observance, the Shita Mekubetzus points out he thought they were b'nei Noach [non-Jews who are not obligated to separate meat and dairy].

Of course this was before the Torah was given so the question doesn't really begin if one takes a minimalist approach to the question of whether the Avos kept the mitzvos.

  • I have edited to clarify the relevance of being b'nei Noach but I feel that to elaborate upon the nature of positive vs. negative commands or the nature of a rabbinic commandment is to go down the rabbit trail of answering entirely different questions. I would be interested in knowing what is generally felt about this issue.
    – Yirmeyahu
    Commented Dec 31, 2013 at 7:51
  • 1
    Rashi does not imply that the milk was separate from the meat. If anything, Rashi sounds the opposite - Rashi says that each thing was brought out as soon as it was ready. That would imply that he specifically did not wait until they finished one thing to bring out the next. Commented Jan 27, 2014 at 18:58
  • 2
    Milk and curds could have been ready immediately, but a calf would take more than 30 minutes to dress and cook. If you think like Rashi that each thing was brought as it was ready, the milk and curds could have been finished before the meat ever arrived.
    – Mike
    Commented Jan 28, 2014 at 0:12

The Malbim explains that he created a calf using Sefer Yetzirah which can be eaten with milk.


  • Why can it be eaten with milk?
    – Double AA
    Commented Jan 23, 2014 at 17:53
  • 3
    I am no expert in Sefer Yetzirah but I will take the Malbims word for it,also the Shla talks about the eiver min hachai by the Shevatim who used sefer Yetzirah and the issur does not apply by such an animal
    – sam
    Commented Jan 23, 2014 at 18:16
  • Followup question: judaism.stackexchange.com/q/34932
    – msh210
    Commented Jan 24, 2014 at 8:52

The Ramban understands that Avraham knew they were angels (Ramban 18:3 s.v. אד-ני אם). If so, this would make it OK to serve them milk and meat. This would also explain why he was OK serving milk and meat but not serving something impure (see Rashi about not serving the dough) because angels are holy (refered to as kedoshim) and holiness is incompatible with impurity (impurity cannot be brought into holy places).


Look at the order -- first milk, then meat. One can have milk, wash out his mouth, wait a period of time (discussed in poskim) and have meat. Which is what some are noheg for Shavuot when dairy is served and then meat.

  • 5
    One can also have meat, wash out his mouth, wait a period of time (discussed in poskim) and have milk.
    – Double AA
    Commented Jan 27, 2014 at 16:37
  • Waiting 30 min. after milk is not the same as waiting 6 hours after meat (normative practice).
    – user4751
    Commented Jan 27, 2014 at 18:14
  • @user4751 The 30 minute wait is not so implied in the verse, nor is any wait. Rashi implies that they specifically did not wait - He says that Avraham brought out each item as soon as it was ready. Commented Jan 27, 2014 at 19:00
  • 4
    @user4751 What do you mean "normative practice"? Plenty of communities wait 1/3/4/5/5.5 hours after meat, and any waiting after milk is not at all universally practiced
    – Double AA
    Commented Jan 27, 2014 at 20:18

The following is not profound but it is the simplest answer to a simple question, that does not seem to have been clearly explicated:

Abraham could serve them whatever he wanted (except for a limb torn off of a live animal) since the Torah which is interpreted as prohibiting meat cooked in milk had not yet been given.

Although one will find stray comments attributing observance of post-Sinaic laws to various pre-Sinaic characters, these do not seem to have been the intent of the OP, so addressing them is really irrelevant.

That being said, essentially all post-Talmudic commentators who focus on the simple textually supportable understanding of Scripture, emphasize that these aforementioned statements about pre-Sinaic behavior are homiletic in nature. Some clarify that the intent is to their general upstanding ethical status.


L'insegnamento è che Avrahàm conosceva la Torah, e sapeva che i visitatori avrebbero assunto latte e carne nelle giuste distanze, questo sottolinea che essi si tratte nettero molto a lungo. Il passo è un tamrur azor che ci obbliga a riflettere sulla temporalità del racconto.


Translation from Google (I hope this can be improved upon):

The teaching is that Avraham knew the Torah, and knew that visitors would take milk and meat in the right distances, this underlines that they are learned cleanse very long. The step is a stop sign that forces us to reflect on the temporality of the story.

  • 2
    ben arrivata! Per favore scrivi in inglese. La maggior parte delle persone qui non parlano italiano.
    – mevaqesh
    Commented Jan 10, 2016 at 0:36

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .