Whether one waits 6 hours, 3 hours, 1 hour, or somewhere in between, it is a common occurrence to find people mistakenly eating milk/cheese/yogurt too soon after meat. It seems like a problem that could not be solved by habituation or conditioning since there can be such a long lag between the initial catalyst (meat) and the trial (milk).

What is the most effective strategy to remind oneself not to eat dairy within the time limit after having meat? Is there a different strategy for one who has years/decades of experience than for a newbie?

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    Q: What is the definition of a calm Jew? A: He's milchig, and he davened mincha – Desert Star Jan 6 '11 at 4:05
  • I use the time-tested strategy of my Ashkenazi ancestry - lactose intolerance. – Charles Koppelman Jul 30 '12 at 14:09

When you finish with meat, look at your watch and say, "Okay, no dairy until 4PM. 4PM. 4PM" (Or whatever time.) Especially helpful on short shabbos afternoons; as soon as you're done eating meat, check the clock, add the appropriate number of hours, and think about what that time will feel like.

Of course, waiting the appropriate amount of time is the halachically right thing to do, and any strategy to guide yourself that direction is appropriate. But if someone did slip up and forget and eat a yogurt an hour after their hamburger, the correct course of action is strategizing for the future, not guilt-tripping. It's at most a mistaken violation of a custom, which requires no atonement (the Nesivos says violating a rabbinic commandment by mistake requires no atonement).

Lastly, if you saw a nice yogurt and made a "shehakol", then suddenly realized oy vey! you ate a hamburger an hour ago, I've been told it's better to go ahead and take one taste (no more!) of the yogurt (assuming no other shehakol food is handy); better to violate the waiting custom than say a bracha for naught.

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    Shalom- That last bit makes no sense as brachot are simply m'd'rabbanan, and Basar B'Chalav is m'd'oraitta. The Gemmarra Chullin 105a states it as a necessity to wait seuda l'seuda(which ends up meaning a period of time). It is severe enough that the Taz 89:2 writes in the name of the Rashal, that one should rebuke and even embarrass Bnei Torah who do not wait 6 hrs. The Ben Ish Hai Yr2 B'halotekha in the introduction writes in the name of the Mekubalim that to eat even the tiniest amount of dairy after meat causes severe spiritual damage to the individual. – Rabbi Michael Tzadok Dec 29 '10 at 17:55
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    @mekubal, according to YDK's answer, your point may be valid for Sefaradim but not Ashkenazim. mi.yodeya.com/questions/4954/… – Isaac Moses Dec 29 '10 at 18:01
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    @Mekubal, brachot are m'd'rabbanan, but wasting G-d's name is medeorayta. – Shalom Dec 29 '10 at 18:03
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    @Isaac, everyone agrees that as long as the meat and milk aren't cooked together, it's derbanan. If everything's clean and it's separate meals but not X hours, Ashkenazim treat it as minhag; Sefardim maybe not. Ben Ish Hai's comment is interesting, and it relates to the question of the spiritual effects of rabbinic prohibitions (e.g. does it cause "timtum halev"?); I believe Rabbi Rakeffet has an mp3 on this recently. Again, the Nesivos says a mistaken violation of a rabbinic prohibition needs no expiation, which I presume would mean there is no spiritual damage. Looks like BI"H held not so. – Shalom Dec 29 '10 at 18:09
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    @Barry- though it can be debated that if a person makes a bracha in his home, stam daas could include anything in the home at the time since constantly recirculating to the fridge,ec., is now common practice. Do you have a source for this type of neder being stricter than "lo sisa"? I could be wrong, but my impression of the use of neder in this circumstance just means that it becomes obligatory despite not being the din (a person can't just decide he doesn't want to do it anymore.) – YDK Dec 30 '10 at 0:07

I once sat next to somebody on a flight to Israel (where our normal sense of time is probably even more distorted), and as soon as we were done the fleishig meal, he set the timer on his watch to make sure to wait the alloted time. I don't know if he always did this, or just on a flight, but it seemed like a great idea.

Practically speaking, though, I don't know if this is easier or harder to condition oneself into doing than Shalom's solution of just reminding oneself "4PM 4PM 4PM"


I think that for me personally, as a religious Jew, I am always conscious of what I am putting into my mouth. I need to think about kashrus, shiurim, bracha rishona, bracha achrona, etc. Basar v'chalav is one part of my thinking before I eat something and I think this is something that can be learned through routine.

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    The question's asking for techniques that could help achieve that sort of state of mind. – Isaac Moses Dec 29 '10 at 15:39
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    The asker is arguing "lo bdili minei"; any kosher-keeper has a filtering process that would stop him from forgetting and eating pork; but a kosher granola bar doesn't raise those same mental alarms (if it just happened to be Pesach ...), same thing, this very nice yogurt has a nice big kosher sign on it. So it's about developing a mental state of "meat/dairy time awareness", in addition to "kosher-or-not awareness" and "bracha awareness." – Shalom Dec 29 '10 at 15:44
  • That is my technique, Isaac. I always run through these various issues (as well as calories, when I'm dieting) before putting anything into my mouth. – Tzvi Dec 30 '10 at 1:39

There are some people who handle this because they have very stringent routines that they follow for eating. For example, they may never eat meat during the day on a weekday... not because of meat / milk, but just because that is their routine. In this way, they never have an issue with meat / milk. (On Shabbos they may have a routine to never eat milk for Shalosh Seudos which has the same effect of solving the issue). Another common routine with the same effect is to only eat dairy for breakfast.

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    I think that if it's "just because that is their routine", then at the least that routine was heavily influenced by the halachos of meat and milk. – msh210 Jan 5 '11 at 20:15
  • That's what I do and I do it because it makes kashrut easier. If I don't eat meat until the last meal of the day (or on Shabbat), it's hard to goof. – Monica Cellio Jun 23 '11 at 0:50
  • This works really well most of the time, but it makes it VERY easy to mess up when you attend some lunch event in the middle of the week where they serve meat. You don't even think about it when 2 hours later you have your usual afternoon snack of milk and cookies. – Daniel Jul 30 '12 at 17:56
  • Seems rather overboard to avoid something that is only a minhag... esp since the rama paskens to wait 1 hour – Desert Star Jul 30 '12 at 18:16

I rely on my phone's calendar for all sorts of things.

In this case, after I finish eating meat, I like to enter a new six-hour-long calendar entry (start time: now) to help me remember that I'm fleishig.

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    Don't try this on Shabbos :) – Double AA Jul 30 '12 at 6:17
  • @DoubleAA, true, but on Shabbat it's generally safe to just assume you're fleishig. :-) – Monica Cellio Jul 30 '12 at 13:04

Prior to not really directly answering your question, a little background:

The gemara Chulin 105a says that one may not have milk after meat until the next meal. The Rambam (et al.) interprets this as the meal of talmidei chachamim which is not until 6 hours. The reasoning given is either because the taste lingers in the throat (Tur) or the mouth (Ata"z) or that the meat in the teeth takes that long to decompose. This is how the mechaber paskens (Y.D.89:1) and such is the halacha for Sefaradim.

Tos. (on the daf) argues and interprets the gemara as just needing a new meal with no time requirement. This, however, requires "siluk" withdrawing from the meal [and] bentching. (Other requirements are making sure the teeth and hands are clean of meat, rinsing with a liquid and eating to clean with a solid. There is a machlokes Shach and Taz how long after eating a person must do this.) This is the halacha for Ashkenazim and that is why there are minhagim less than 6 hours. "We" Ashkenazim adopt the Rambam as a chumrah (Rema Y.D. 89:1).

So if you are an Ashkenazi like me, I am more concerned about benching and bracha acharonas than I am about the timing, which is very difficult if you are eating on the go. If I mess up on the timing (late lunch/early supper), I just stop eating and move on with my life. But bracha acharona is a more serious issue.

  • Actually the Makhloket Shakh and Taz is over wither kinnuach and Hadakha need to be done, not over the amount of time one needs to wait. – Rabbi Michael Tzadok Dec 29 '10 at 18:09
  • Right, that's what I wrote. – YDK Dec 29 '10 at 18:48
  • @Whoever gave the down-vote- Did you down-vote because I didn't answer the question or because you thought my answer is not halachically sound? If the former, I can accept that. If the latter, I am satisfied with my answer based on the background sources. Please bring contrary sources if you wish to contradict my answer. (Although I can understand your reactionto my controversial answer. Don't worry, I won't hold a grudge! Although I dislike it when my score is not rounded to at least 5's. Maybe I can get 4 other down-votes :)) – YDK Dec 29 '10 at 21:35

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