(by Rabbi Eh'bed Baw'naw)
When people find out I don't eat meat with dairy, I see many in the Hebrew Roots Movement, act like Christians do when they see a person pursuing Torah not eating bacon. The thing I often hear is “you are following traditions of men”, and they become increasingly hostile towards my personal choice. It's not like I am pushing it on anyone other than myself, and I especially do not push it on ger toshav or ivrim, in fact I only allow the discussion many times to be given to a person in the higher levels of ger tzaddikim or higher in their conversion. But it always bothers me that too many treat this commandment like it is sin. But then again, there are SEVERAL Torah laws the Hebrew Roots Movement doesn't keep, such as the laws of nidah for example. But lets focus on בשר בחלב basar bechalav.
The Torah makes note of this commandment several times the first time in Exodus 23:19 the second time in Exodus 34:26 and finally Deuteronomy 14:21. If you read it in the English it seems like only a physical act that has nothing to do with dietary or with anything that would affect the Nashama (soul) yet the “English Primist” could not be further from the truth in this respect.
Within the verses the word גדי or g'di is used. This word is first used on the book of Bereishis in the plural form. But we have question as to what this word means. The reason we have question is because this word was not carried over in mishnaic and tanni'im times so the complete meaning of the word is lost. The sages and Rashi say that the word is not just goats or calves but domesticated, kosher animals. There has been a long standing debate on whether or not the chicken is kosher or not, and the sages reluctantly included this to as well mean chicken as well.
The word בישול Bishul is also included in the verse that not only means boiling but literally cooking, as meaning for consumption together with the g'di. And considering the conciseness is that g'di means domesticated animal. The domesticated animals were for......consumption.
These verses also also contain the word Kil'ayim (which means mixture or confusion) which is the same word used when mixing wool with linen (another commandment the Hebrew Roots Movement doesn't keep).
Now what about the famous verses in Bereishis (Genesis) in Bereishis 18:8? Chabad.org explains it as such:
“A careful look at the verse shows that Abraham did not actually dine with his guests. Rather, he served the butter, milk, and meat to people whom he believed to be traveling gentiles (there were no other Jews back then), and were obviously under no dietary obligations. Abraham saw no reason that his personal stringencies should diminish the enjoyment of his guests. What about the angels? How could they eat non-kosher? According to one opinion, the angels didn't eat at all; they merely appeared to be eating, out of respect for their host. There is, however, a Midrash which contends that this was no show of etiquette; the angels actually ate meat and milk together. Years later, whenMoses was about to be given the Torah, the angels protested, saying that mortal man does not deserve G d's greatest treasure, the Torah. Moses, in typical Jewish fashion, answered a question with questions of his own, and asked the angels (among other things), "You knew the Torah. Did this stop you from indulging in a mixture of milk and meat at Abraham's place?" The angels had no reply, and the rest is history.”
Now I would say Chabad is partly right but not entirely. The thing that struck me years ago after learning the process of a kosher kill and also the way they would cook in those days. I realized that by the time the cakes were made (Notice Avraham told his wife to make the cakes before he started on the meat) Avraham would have just been finishing the slaughter and taking out the organs and preparing the meat to be cooked. There is no way possible that they were served together at the same time. It is impossible, especially considering that Avraham was 99 years old at the time and also just had his circumcision 3 days earlier, so imagine how long it took him to carry out the task, even lifting the animals or dragging them after they were killed would have caused immense pain that would be unbearable, so of course he would have been slowed down. This is why the sages say, if you have meat and cheese you must eat one 1 to three hours before or after the other, that variable was calculated in terms of the time it would have taken for Avraham to have them completed. Also....at that time, cakes were an appetizer and did not go with the meal. It is only in modern times the two would be served together or the cakes being served immediately after the meal as a desert or treat.
The Talmud makes note the reason G-d gave this commandment is because the Egyptians would do this practice of cooking meat with cheese as a fertility practice so their gods would bless their women with fertility. Also the practice is just cruel, the Rambam makes note that it is like taking the eggs of a chicken while the mother looks on. Does not the Scripture say we are to stay away from the hedonistic ways of the savages and nations? Does not Paul say to not even allow the appearance of evil to be manifest in our lives?
Now does this mean that every person reading this should stop eating meat with cheese? I'm not saying that. But when a person says that our tradition in terms of this is a “tradition of men”, it is obvious the person doesn't know what they are talking about nor should they guilt someone for fulfilling the mitzvos. Now on the same token however, I didn't stop eating meat and cheese together until about 2 years ago. I believe as my jewish brethren do that observance is an ongoing thing, a person starts by not eating anything with blood or anything strangled or sacrificed to idols (if we wanna get technical that would include meat and cheese together), then we move onto kosher animals after we learn to do the first for the sake of Hashem, and then later on after we have mastered that then we move on to a more strict kosher. As you all know I am not a one torah advocate. I do not expect a person in the first few years of their walk to fulfill the mitzvos of not eating meat with cheese together. That is something that comes later because it is more challenging than you may think. But then it becomes a way of life and it is becomes a lot easier. You even learn without thinking that with certain meals in which you have coffee, sometimes you do use milk or ½ n ½ and sometimes you doing, it depends upon your meal. If you have for instance oatmeal it is permissible to have dairy in your coffee. If you have turkey sausage then no it isn't and you learn that balance over time.
But you may say, ok I understand this was a pagan practice done in Egypt, but what should it means for me? What is the mussar in fulfillment of this mitzvos? The sages make note, as does Yeshua of how the basar and the neshama work in a marriage to one another. The physical combines with the soul of a person. The two mirror one another. It is a sign of our separation (as are the rest of the commandments) from the ways of the world and our separation from Egypt. For this is also something that is alluded to all over scripture of starting out with milk and moving on to the meat of the Word of G-d. There is so many remez'im in this mitzvos I could not begin to list them.
Theological Insights from Rabbi Eved Banah at Beit Geulah in Morganton, NC (www.BeitGeulah.com)