Waiting Between Meat and Milk


How long should I wait between eating meat and eating dairy. Thanks.



  1. How much time does one wait between meat and milk? According to the Shulchan Aruch either one hour or six hours is acceptable. (The root of the uncertainty is where the meat needs to be in the digestary tract). The Dutch are the only people who have a definite tradition to wait only one hour for the rest of us it is six hours. However, the Yekkes (Jews of Germanic origin) have the custom to keep three hours. It is interesting to note that custom is prevalent among Anglo and South African Jewry. The reason is that their respective Ashkenazi communities were established by Jews from Germany.
    Where does the three hours come from? I always thought that it was good old Yekke compromise (one hour is not enough but six hours is too long!) but I found a teshuvah of the Rosh who explains that in northern Germany the shortest “hours” in the winter were only thirty minutes long (these are what are known as Shaot Zmaniot which hours that are not according to the hours of the clock. Rather, they are special hours that the Halacha uses to split up the day. Regardless of where a person lives the total amount of daylight is divided into twelve equal parts, each part is an “hour”. Subsequently, in the  summer the twelve units can be considerably longer than sixty minutes and in the winter they can be considerably shorter than sixty minutes.) and that is where the concept of three (real) hours waiting time comes from – it is really six winter “hours“!

    Best wishes from the AskTheRabbi.org Team

  2. But how long do I have to wait after eating milk before eating meat? And are there also various customs regarding this?

  3. Dairy products such as milk, cream cheese, cottage cheese, yogurt, ice-cream, butter do not require any waiting period at all before partaking of meat; however the mouth should be cleaned first. After eating Cheddar, Dutch or Swiss cheese etc. it is obligatory to wait about 6 hours before eating meat.

    In order to understand why we have to wait for hard cheeses it is necessary to understand why we wait between eating meat and milk. There are two reasons given. The first is that meat leaves a taste in the mouth for up to six hours after it is eaten. The second reason is that any meat stuck between the teeth is still considered meat until about six hours afterwards.

    According to the first reason the Ashkenazic authorities rule that one should wait after eating cheeses that have a strong taste. They explain that that means cheeses that have matured for at least six months. Such cheeses are considered to be “strong tasting” and will leave a taste for six hours. Other authorities maintain (and this is the common custom) that one should wait after any strong tasting cheese even if it has not matured six months. The Aruch Hashulchan mentions Dutch, Swiss and cheddar cheeses as being examples of this.

    Sephardim do not wait after cheese since the stringency is not mentioned in the Talmud.

    Best wishes from the AskTheRabbi.org Team