By Rabbi Avrohom Gordimer
Although I am taking a long break from ideological battles, this brief monograph is a response to an halachic issue. A major rosh yeshiva advised that I write and publish this:
In a new responsum entitled Meat After Parmesan On Pizza, R. Ysoscher Katz, Chair of the Department of Talmud at Yeshivat Chovevei Torah and Director of YCT’s Lindenbaum Center for Halakhic Studies, poses this question:
A group of friends were wondering about waiting time (for Kashrut reasons) between dairy and meat. Specifically, now that many pizzerias use cheese blends that include parmesan with the mozzarella on their pizza, would that obligate folks to wait their respective minhag times after having a slice of pizza before having meat-based food?
Yes, one should ideally (לכתחילה) wait their respective wait time for hard cheese after eating a Parmesan sprinkled pizza. But, if it is too much of an imposition (בדיעבד), one is allowed to eat meat after waiting no longer than they usually wait for non-hard dairy foods.
Katz proceeds to present technical data and halachic discussion – yet it will be evident from the material below that the responsum is largely predicated on misinformation, both technical and halachic.
We will go through R. Katz’ responsum section by section:
Katz writes: The Rema (YD 89:2) says that we should be “machmir” and wait before eating meat after eating hard cheese the same amount of time we wait for eating dairy after we ate meat. There is, however, an extensive debate among the poskim about which cheeses fall under that category. Some consider Parmesan a hard cheese, others believe it only applies to hard Swiss cheeses, pungent, aged, and with holes. (See the nosei keilim, Darkhai Respnsum and others on YD siman 89.)
Correction: No poskim who accept that one must wait after aged cheese write that Parmesan may not be a hard cheese. Parmesan must be aged minimally for 10 months (v. 21CFR133.165) and may be aged up to 24 months or longer. The threshold for aged cheese as stated in poskim is (approximately) six months (v., e.g., Shach on YD 89 s.k.15). All poskim who require waiting after aged cheese concur that 10-month cheese is halachically considered to be aged (e.g. Shach ibid., Chochmas Adam 40:13, Aruch Ha-Shulchan 89:11, etc.).
Katz writes: Even if we were to categorize Parmesan as hard cheese, for our purposes there is also the lenient opinion of the Yad Yehudah (YY) quoted by the poskim. (See for example Darkhai Teshuva YD 89:40 and many others). The YY (YD “short commentary” 89:30) says that the stringency of waiting longer for hard cheese does not apply when the cheese was melted. Cheese on a slice of heated pizza is melted and soft, making the Rema’s chumra of waiting extra time after eating hard cheese inapplicable in our case, according to the YY.
The Badai Ha’Shulchan (YD 89:2) argues that the leniency of the YY depends on the reasons why we have to wait when switching from meat to milk. According to the Rambam (Machalot Asurot 9:28), we have to wait because we are concerned that some of the residue remains stuck in the eater’s gums or teeth. If we wait long enough, that food decays and no longer has the status of halakhic food. Rashi (Chulin 105A) thinks that the reason we wait is because heavy foods take time to digest, and until they are fully digested, they are still present and come up in your mouth. Eating the opposite food than the one you ate would, therefore, be considered me’drabanan as a form of mixing milk and meat. Melted cheese, the Badai Ha’shulchan explains does not get stuck in the gums or teeth and therefore obviates the concerns of Rambam, but the taste, he claims, remains in the digestive system for a while even if it was melted, keeping Rashi’s concern intact. The Badai Ha’shulchan, as a result, believes that according to Rashi one would have to wait extra time even when eating melted hard cheese.
I do not agree. The reason hard cheese takes longer to digest, according to Rashi, is because of its hard texture. If the food is softened, it will obviously digest faster. Therefore, based on the YY, one would not have to wait additional time when eating a pizza that has melted cheese on top, even according to Rashi.
Corrections: (1) Rashi does not write that one must wait after heavy foods because they take time to digest and come up in the mouth until digested. Rather, Rashi writes (Chulin 105 A d.h. assur le’echol gevina): “(One must wait after meat) because meat exudes fat(ty residue) that adheres to the palate and causes a lingering (meaty) taste (in the mouth).” This is referred to as meshichas ta’am (“lingering taste”) by people who study Yoreh Deah, and this is how the Badei Ha-Shulchan quotes Rashi. (2) R. Katz writes that he does not agree with the Badei Ha-Shulchan’s assertion that, according to Rashi, one may have to wait after eating aged cheese that has melted, because, according to R. Katz, “the reason hard cheese takes longer to digest, according to Rashi, is because of its hard texture. If the food is softened, it will obviously digest faster. Therefore, based on the YY, one would not have to wait additional time when eating a pizza that has melted cheese on top, even according to Rashi.” R. Katz’ rejection of the opinion of the Badei Ha-Shulchan is based on R. Katz’ erroneous reading of Rashi; Rashi cites meshichas ta’am and not hardness as the reason for waiting after meat – it has nothing to do with hardness. Thus, R. Katz’ critique of the Badei ha-Shulchan falls away.
Katz writes: Yes, one should ideally (לכתחילה) wait their respective wait time for hard cheese after eating a Parmesan sprinkled pizza. But, if it is too much of an imposition (בדיעבד), one is allowed to eat meat after waiting no longer than they usually wait for non-hard dairy foods.
Correction: In Halacha, reliance on a “b’dieved” opinion is limited (when such reliance is warranted) to cases of after-the-fact situations or great need, such as actual physical or financial hardship, or dire logistical hindrances. However, to rule for the general population that one may outright rely on a b’dieved opinion due to a person’s culinary desires or preferences is ill-founded.
It is clear from R. Katz’ approach that Open Orthodoxy continues on its path of abandonment of the halachic norm.
Last year, R. Katz issued a responsum permitting women to publicly nurse in shul. Rabbi David Rosenthal, author of the popular book Why Open Orthodoxy is Not Orthodox, demonstrates here that this repsonsum of R. Katz is based on invented and mistranslated sources. Readers are urged to go through Rabbi Rosenthal’s article and see for themselves how Open Orthodox “p’sak” works.