I was once told in the name of R' Hamburger שליט”א that the practice of waiting between meat and milk is, for Ashkenazim, a minhag. I was told that nonetheless, as we are accustomed to wait and following his understanding of מנהג אבותינו תורה היא (The custom of our fathers is Torah) we must continue to wait.

Regardless, does a source exist amongst the Ashkenazi rishonim which agrees with what I've said above?


2 Answers 2


Seemingly, what he's referring to is the fact that the Rama (YD 89:1, following Rabbenu Tam among others) rules that after meat one must simply end the meal (סילק ובירך -- pull back from eating and say an after-blessing) before eating dairy. He says at the end that there are some who are careful to wait 6 hours (like the Shulchan Arukh, Rambam and some other Rishonim) and that that is a good practice. But it seems according to the basic letter of the law (Ikkar haDin) that he accepts Tosfot's position. Any waiting could then be called a "custom" or a "Chumra" in a certain sense.

  • related judaism.stackexchange.com/q/33921/759
    – Double AA
    Aug 23, 2016 at 1:00
  • related possible nafka minah judaism.stackexchange.com/q/64937/759
    – Double AA
    Aug 23, 2016 at 1:03
  • I realised, after I upvoted your answer, that it doesn't really fulfil my parameters of mekorot in the Rishonim, although you do mention them. Aug 23, 2016 at 1:41
  • @NoachMiFrankfurt If you look at Rishonim there is no Minhag to wait 6 hours in Ashkenaz. They all waited maybe an hour, if that. I'm fairly certain this is what he's thinking of. The traditional Ashkenazi understanding, which is the straightforward read of the Talmud and Geonim, is that the only Din is to separate the meals. Nothing to do with waiting. Waiting is just an extra thing popular recently among Ashkenazim as a chumra/good-idea/minhag.
    – Double AA
    Aug 23, 2016 at 1:49
  • 1
    @NoachMiFrankfurt See the Rosh Chullin 8:5 who only quotes RT but says anyway people have a Minhag to wait (recall Rosh came from Ashkenaz but moved to Spain; note as well Rosh doesn't specify how long they waited). See too Beit Yosef OC 173 and of course this article.
    – Double AA
    Aug 23, 2016 at 3:46

Rabbi Yair Hoffman quotes the gemara Chullin 105a which gives the original halacha.

Waiting 5 and 1/2 Hours Versus 6 Hours – a Halachic Analysis

“Rav Chisda said: One who eats meat may not eat cheese, [one who eats] cheese, may eat meat…

Mar Ukvah said: Regarding this, I am like vinegar, the son of wine. My father, if he would consume meat today, would wait until tomorrow to eat cheese. I, however, will not consume them during the same meal, but at another meal I will eat cheese.”

The Rif writes that by virtue of the fact that Mar Ukvah referred to himself as “vinegar the son of wine” – no authority permits a waiting period of less than six – from the morning meal to the evening meal. The Baalei HaTosfos disagree and understand the notion of another meal to refer even to a case where a second meal was started right away. [This is also the position of the Mordechai, the HaGaos Ashri, the Hagaos Maimonius and the Raavya.]

Rabbi Hoffman then analyzes the meaning of this. It would appear that the Baalei Tosfos would say that the wait of six hours is definitely a minhag, since the Ashkenazic community took on the longer wait. The fact that the Dutch and German communities wait different amounts, seems to imply that the interval of "next meal" was established by community minhag.

This is not to suggest that other customs are, heaven forbid, incorrect. Customs among observant Jews range the gamut from one hour (Dutch Jews) to three hours (German and British Jews) to five hours to five and half hours. But a number of questions do arise: What should these students who wait six hours be doing? Should the students undo their family tradition and adopt that of their Yeshiva? Also from where did the customs of 6 hours and 5 and ½ arise?

Rabbi Hoffman discusses the difference between 5.5 (miktzah kekulo) and 6 hours which again seems to imply that the gezeirah of waiting until the "next meal" as a set interval appears to be a community minhag as far as what that interval might be. Note that he specifically does this because a problem has arisen in some yeshivos which use the 5.5 hour minhag while the family minhag of many students is to wait the full six hours.

This means that Rabbi Hoffman regards the specific time used for the gezeira of a set interval as a minhag. Thus, מנהג אבותינו תורה היא would be the reason for the psak that he cites.

The Poskim replied that, notwithstanding all of the combined factors above to be lenient, it was indeed a problem and that these students should not be forced by the Yeshivos to negate their own family practices. This was the ruling of a number of American Poskim as well as Rav Vosner zt”l in Eretz Yisroel.

The Chof-K points out Waiting Six Hours between Meat and Dairy that this is a gzeirah miderabbonon (Shulchan Aruch 89:1)

The chachumim made a gezeira that even if the meat and milk are not cooked together, you may not eat milk after eating any type of meat or chicken before waiting six hours.

  • 1
    Per your penultimate paragraph: it can't have been that strong a gezeira, considering that in the paragraph before, you mention that there were edot (such as mine) who never accepted it. Aug 23, 2016 at 1:40
  • 1
    @NoachMiFrankfurt Indeed Ashkenazim don't accept the view that waiting is a Gezera (at least MeIkkar HaDin), and it's highly plausible that early Sefardi Rishonim didn't think it was a Gezerat Chazal at all either. Waiting after meat is one of the most famous Kosher-rules (so lots of people think they need to take it very seriously), but really it's also one of the least important. If only people were this Machmir about certain other Halakhot...
    – Double AA
    Aug 23, 2016 at 1:51
  • I don't understand how this answers the question. Are you claiming there is no source, and, hence, the cited claim of R Hamburg is wrong? Or if not, what is the source you are suggesting is his basis?
    – Double AA
    Aug 23, 2016 at 2:01
  • @NoachMiFrankfurt No, the statement is that there are communities who accepted the gezera of "waiting until the next meal" but had different definitions of "until the next meal" Aug 23, 2016 at 2:36
  • It seems like your claim is that Tosfot claims the Gezera is to wait the amount of time your community waits until the next meal, so in that sense one's community's Minhag defines what the Gezera is for them. Is that what you mean to say?
    – Double AA
    Aug 23, 2016 at 17:43

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