I remember learning that the reason you don't eat milk with beef is because you shouldn't cook a calf in its mother's milk. However, when you are dealing with two different species, this same logic doesn't seem to hold. Is there another explanation for why this isn't kosher?

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    Show me a chicken or a fish with teats and you'll see what confused looks like. I find it more confusing labeling a product made exclusively from soybeans as "milk" than any fear I might have that I'll confuse a chicken or a fish with red meat under any circumstance that I would be willing to eat either, with or without milk. I'll have my chicken schnitzel parve with a slice of Swiss - thank you. You don't have to kiss me if you don't like it. – user838 Aug 26 '11 at 5:37
  • related: judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/7927/… – Menachem May 1 '12 at 5:43
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    so why can't chicken be eaten with milk even though its mother has no milk? it makes no sense! my family had a fight about it and their answer was "thats just the way it is" - not very fulfilling answer! help please answer this question :) – user1540 May 28 '12 at 7:42
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    @Dude See Tosfot Chullin 104. – Double AA Feb 23 '16 at 3:24

The Torah's prohibition of cooking a young animal in mother's milk, as stated above, applies to mammal's meat in mammal's milk. Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch writes that meat is about taking, and milk is about giving.

As birds don't have "mother's milk", there is no Biblical prohibition on chicken-cooked-in-milk. However, the rabbis of the Talmud prohibited it, for fear of mistakes. This distinction is an important one when understanding Judaism, and is stressed by Maimonides.


Well, m'doraita it is applied to all meat and all milk from animals similar to goats (domesticated, kosher animals like cows and sheep, but would exclude foul, fish, and non-domesticated like deer and no-nkosher like pigs). The passuk just mentions it that way because that was a common way of doing it. Chazal darshen three issurim from the three times it appears in Chumash

  1. The issur to cook meat and milk together
  2. The issur to eat meat and milk cooked together
  3. The issur to benefit from milk and meat cooked together (Such as selling meat cooked with milk.)

Chazal also made additional laws on top of the basic laws of the Torah to prevent people from making mistakes. Rabbi Yose haGalili permitted milk and chicken to be cooked together, because chicken is a bird and the law of the Torah is about four-legged animals. Rabbi Akiva disagreed and throught people could get confused between different kinds of meat. Halakha is like Rabbi Akiva.

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    Then why not fish as well? – yydl Apr 15 '11 at 21:02
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    Chicken (or other birds) are somewhat similar to animal meat (they both have to be slaughtered and drained of blood; they're both sold in butcher shops). Fish is so dissimilar to meat that there's no concern about mistakes. – Alex Apr 15 '11 at 21:26
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    Where in the world does anyone get that Rebbi Aqivah thought that people would "get confused" between different kinds of meat? I have never seen anything to support this in the sources. Unless someone can produce proof of this assertion, it is a MYTH. Kol tuv. – user3342 May 26 '16 at 3:04

another answer is that milk is associated with birth and life... mother's milk

while meat is associated with death...

and we separate life and death...

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    Hello srr, and welcome to mi.yodeya! Thanks for your interesting symbolic answer. It would be enhanced and enriched by a citation to a print source. Also consider receiving all the benefits of being a fully-registered mi.yodeya user by clicking Register at the top of your page. – WAF Apr 17 '11 at 2:56
  • ohr Hachaim hakodesh I am not sure where – simchastorah Aug 26 '11 at 6:03
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    But you can put egg all over a chicken breast. – Zach Leighton Apr 15 '15 at 20:24

I'm not Jewish, but I always assumed the 'reason' for all Jewish food laws is 'because god says so!' If you're looking for any other rationalisation, you're missing the point. There's nothing uniquely unhealthy about pork or lobster, but god says don't eat them, so don't! Yeah, there's symbolism of life and death with milk and meat... But that doesn't stop Jews (or others) eating eggs, or killing and eating young animals. Basically, if you expect god to justify his commandments before you follow them, you're not respecting his will.

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    Why stop at dietary laws? Anything G-d said is because He said so. But that shouldn't stop us from trying to understand what He said. There's a reason why we're allowed to eat eggs and kill animals. He may have said it, but we also should try to understand why He said it. – DonielF Jun 23 '17 at 21:47
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    In this particular case, the Torah forbade meat (of kosher mammals) and milk (of kosher mammals). The rabbis added a fence to the basic halacha by including (kosher) birds because people treat birds as meat in the ame way as animals (unlike fish). – sabbahillel Jun 23 '17 at 22:19

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