Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Rationale for the Prohibition of בשר בחלב

I came across a citation of the following words of Rashi while skimming through the קובץ שיטות קמאי on Niddah,[1] which by the way is an awesome sefer. Here goes:

ולמה אסר רחמנא בשר בחלב, לפי שחלב נהפך לדם והדם בחלב. ומניין שהחלב נהפך לדם, אלא כיון שהעזים מתעברות החלב נהפך לדם, והדם לחלב מניין, אלא כיון שהאשה מתעברת אינה רואה דם נידות, אלא אותו נעשה חלב לתינוק.[2]

I don’t really get it, but I guess somehow he is saying that the cooking process brings back the blood quality in the milk, which would explain also why דרך בישול אסרה תורה.[3] It still wouldn’t explain why there is an issur hana’ah, when there is no issur hana’ah on blood. Maybe someone can help here.

The whole concept seemed to be from so far out in left-field to me that I just had to share it.

[1] The quote is brought on 9a.
[2] Sefer HaPardes Hilkhot Moda’ah p. 80
[3] Ḥullin 108a


  1. Very interesting. I'm currently 'researching' (looking for sources) about דם נעכר ונעשה חלב. I never heard that the opposite is true as well! I wonder what's his source for that.

  2. Yeah, it jumped at me. I assume you are researching it as part if your Chazal/science project. If you are interested, I believe I can demonstrate from the cheshbon of the Gemara that the current halacha entirely rejects the notion - and that we assume not even some דם is נעכר ונעשה חלב.

    Rashi is here:
    It sounds like he's saying it himself, but I don't know.

  3. Here is is:

    The concept that דם נעכר ונעשה חלב is the opinion of R. Meir, who holds that as long as a woman is nursing she does not have דם טמא, even if it’s for four or five years. R. Yose, R. Yehuda, and R. Shimon disagree, and say that for two years after bith she is טהור and after that she has דם טמא, regardless of whether she has been nursing or not, and the reason for the heter is that during the birthאבריה מתפרקין ואין נפשה חוזרת עד עשרים וארבע חדש.

    At first I figured that the Chachamim do not necessarily disagree with the metzius professed by R. Meir that דם נעכר ונעשה חלב, rather according to them although this is the case with some blood, there is still no reason to say that there is no דם טמא left that has not been נעכר, and therefore they require the added reason of איבריה מתפרקין.

    However, the next Gemara proved me wrong. The Gemara darshens the pasuk מי יתן טהור מטמא לא אחד, as referring, according to R. Meir, to a mother’s milk, which is aטהור produced from a טמא. Fregt the Gemara, and what do the Chachamim do with it? Now, why do the Chachamim have a problem? They also agree that some דם is נעכר ונעשה חלב. So why can’t they darshen the pasuk the same way? So you’ll be מדחה me and say that the Gemara is looking for an example where all of the טמא thing turns טהור. Fine, so let’s see the Gemara’s answer. א"ר יוחנן זו שכבת זרע שהוא טמא ואדם הנוצר ממנו טהור. Certainly not all of the שכבת זרע turns into a human being (unless that’s what they thought… hmm). So the Gemara didn’t care to say a case in which all of the טמא turns טהור. If so, what was the problem in the first place, if the Chachamim hold that some דם is נעכר ונעשה חלב. Ela mai, that was never peshat in the Chachamim, because they actually disagreed completely with this concept, and they don’t hold at all that דם נעכר ונעשה חלב.

    Ergo, being that the halacha follows the Chachamim (See YD 189:33 and 184:7), it would seem clear that the halacha does not accept the concept of דם נעכר ונעשה חלב as a physical reality at all.