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Meat & Milk Kashrut Laws of An Oven, Microwave Oven, and Toaster

We are fortunate today to have the great Gaon Rabbi Shemuel Pinchasi from Israel deliver a Daily Halacha. The audio clip contains Rav Pinchasi’s oration which was in Hebrew. Rabbi Mansour afterwards translated and explained as follows.

It is much better to have two ovens as opposed to one oven in the kitchen. When having two ovens, you obviously alleviate all the issues of milk and meat. It’s preferred to have one milk oven and one meat oven. If you are able have two ovens you would be saving yourself from many problems.

Now, it’s not so simple to deal with the milk and meat issue in kitchens that have just one oven. There are 2 concerns in this regard. The first matter we must address is regarding what is called the ‘Recha’. The ‘Recha’ is the smell, the odor, or the aroma, that comes out of the food. Halacha says that the aroma is a problem in small confined areas like an oven. The Shulchan Aruch holds that Recha is not a problem, but that is only referring to larger areas.

The second problem we have in our ovens, is what is called ‘Zea’. We mentioned this in a previous Daily Halacha, and this refers to a sweat, a film, or vapor that emanates from the food and coats the oven walls. So in order to use the oven for meat after milk, one should wait 24 hours. The vice versa also applies, whereas you should wait 24 hours before using the oven for dairy after cooking meat. Additionally, one should burn out the oven before using the oven for meat after milk, or milk after meat. Burning it out means that you should heat the oven at 300-400 degrees, and let it burn for about 10-15 minutes, or as much as a half hour. Again, just to review, 24 hours between meat and milk, and burn out the oven for at least 10-15 minutes.

Now, I want to point out that this is only referring to when the food in the oven was uncovered. There is no concern of ‘Zea" when food is covered. So if you cover the pot of meat when cooking it, you would then be able to cook milk right away, because nothing escaped from the pot.

Now let’s talk about microwaves. Here too, there are issues of meat and milk. The rule is to always cover the food that you put in a microwave in order to get around problems. It’s a good idea to use a clingy plastic wrap to cover and seal the plate of food before placing into the microwave oven. There are also special covers that are made to be used in microwave ovens. Just make sure to have a cover designated for meat, and a separate cover for milk products. In the event you need to kosher a microwave for you didn’t follow the above rules, and you want to transition between milk and meat, you would put a bowl of water in the microwave, heat it, and let it boil for a few minutes. Some of the Poskim say that you should even put some soapy detergent into the water also. (Rav Pinchasi didn’t mention that, but this also is brought down in Halacha.)

Again, one should be careful in the laws of milk and meat regarding microwaves and ovens and using them and koshering them as mentioned above. The above also happens to be the opinion of Chacham Ovadia Yoseph, and this was mentioned previous in our Halacha Yomit.

Regarding a toaster-oven, the small toaster ovens that people use to make grilled cheese sandwiches and other things like that. According to the Halacha, a toaster-oven can not be used for both milk and meat. Even if you cover the food, you may not use one toaster-oven for both milk and meat. We are concerned not only for ‘Recha’, for the aroma, or the actual sweat of the food, but we are also concerned that food remnants themselves are also in there. It is very hard to clean those small little ovens, and there are always crumbs in there, and there are always small particles of food stuck in there. It is very very small, and so the aroma issue is a big problem as well. Therefore, the Halacha, one should have a designated toaster oven specifically for dairy, and one for meat. It should be pointed out that if you want to toast some bread to eat with meat, you would need to toast in a separate meat toaster and not involve the dairy toaster at all. You must designate your toasters and be careful not to confuse them.

 


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