Pages from Maimonides’ 12th-century philosophical work ‘Guide for the Perplexed’ photo credit: Courtesy of the Cambridge University Library via The Times of Israel

Waiting Six Hours for Dairy: A Rabbanite Response to Qaraism | Tzvi H. Adams

Qaraites were a Jewish group that began around 760 CE. They rejected the Talmud and rabbinic Judaism and insisted that Jews only observe halacha as expressed in the literal text of the Torah. “Qaraite” means “Scriptualist”. The movement started in Iraq and Persia by Jews who objected to the authority of the leaders of the Babylonian Talmud Academies, the Gaonim. The Gaonim and their successors, the rishonim, are called Rabbanites because of their stance in defending the Talmud and rabbinic laws.

Scholars have noted that many minhagim began as a response to the Qaraite movement. For example, the recital of במה מדליקין on Friday evening  after davening [1] was started in the times of the Gaonim to reinforce the rabbinic stance on having fire prepared before Shabbos, in opposition to the Qaraite view that no fire may be present in one’s home on Shabbos [2]. There is evidence that the reading of Pirkei Avos [3] on Shabbos afternoon, which began in Gaonic times, was to emphasize to the Jewish masses that the Oral Law was passed down since Moshe Rabbeinu as stated in the first mishna of Pirkei Avos.

Professor Haym Soloveitchik [4] has argued convincingly that the unique arrangement of Hilchos Shabbos in Rambam’s Mishna Torah was organized specifically with anti-Qaraite intent. Briefly, Rambam’s formulation of the Shabbos laws does not follow a chronological order or any other expected logical order. In his opening chapters, Rambam lays down the following rules: preserving lifesaving overrides the restrictions of Shabbos; only work done on Shabbos itself is forbidden (e.g. shehiyah and hatmanah are allowed); work done by a Gentile upon a Jew’s request is only forbidden by rabbinic law. These three rulings were denied by Qaraites. Rambam is then careful to segregate the Torah laws (di’Oraisas) into one group of chapters (7-12) and all the rabbinic rulings (di’rabbanans) into another set (21-24), with eight chapters separating the two. Soleveitchik argues that this was done to “highlight the very existence and legal force of rabbinic enactments, both of which were denied by the Qaraites”. Finally, Maimonides concludes the laws of Shabbos with an uplifting positive note: the laws of kibbud ve’oneg Shabbos. This further emphasizes the difference between the Qaraite and Rabbanite Shabbos, because Qaraites treated Shabbos “as a day of ascetic retreat and allowed only the barest minimum of eating and sleeping.” Rambam emphasizesאיזה הוא עינוג:  זה שאמרו חכמים שצריך לתקן תבשיל שמן ביותר, ומשקה מבושם, הכול לשבת  and  [5] אכילת בשר ושתיית יין בשבת, עינוג הוא לה.
With this argument Soloveichik is suggesting that Rambam organized material in Mishna Torah so that the differences between Qaraite and Rabbanite Shabbos are emphasized to the reader. However, Soloveitchik takes matters one step further: He notes that Rambam is the first to define intimacy on Shabbos as oneg Shabbos: תשמיש המיטה, מעונג שבת הוא.  The Talmud only states that intimacy on Shabbos is allowed, but does not elevate this act to the categorization of mitzvas oneg Shabbos. Here, Soloveitchik argues that Rambam actually redefined the Talmudic law for polemical reasons [6]. This is a revolutionary proposition as we are generally under the assumption that the Mishna Torah is a practical summary of the Talmud – as Rambam tells us in his introduction to Mishna Torah [7]. Professor Soloveitchik has opened the door for the understanding that within Mishna Torah there may be Talmudic laws which have been redefined or reformulated for anti-Qaraite reasons.

Waiting After Chicken: Rambam’s Innovation
I would like to suggest that Rambam’s interpretation of meat-milk separation laws was also based on anti-Qaraite socio-political motivation. While some earlier rishonim required waiting between eating beheima meat and eating dairy, Rambam was the first to state that one must wait after eating poultry, as well. (Beheima meat refers to meat from cows, sheep or goats.):

מִי שֶׁאָכַל בָּשָׂר בַּתְּחִלָּה, בֵּין בְּשַׂר בְּהֵמָה בֵּין בְּשַׂר עוֹף–לֹא יֹאכַל אַחֲרָיו חָלָב עַד שֶׁיִּשְׁהֶה בֵּינֵיהֶן כְּדֵי שֵׁעוּר סְעוֹדָה אַחֶרֶת, וְהוּא כְּמוֹ שֵׁשׁ שָׁעוֹת:  מִפְּנֵי הַבָּשָׂר שֶׁלְּבֵין הַשִּׁנַּיִם, שְׁאֵינוּ סָר בְּקִנּוּחַ

רמבם משנה תורה מאכלות אסורות פרק ט’ הלכה כז

This contradicts the simple reading of the Gemara Chullin 104b-

 תנא אגרא חמוה דרבי אבא עוף וגבינה נאכלין באפיקורן הוא תני לה והוא אמר לה בלא נטילת ידים ובלא קינוח הפה

which states plainly that poultry and cheese (even in that order) may been eaten באפיקורן (in one kerchief)) or without concern (לשון הפקר)  even without washing one’s hands or mouth in between their consumption. See, for example, Ritva (Chullin 104b) [8]:

פירש”י שאם אכל זה ובה לאכול זה א”צ לקנח פיו ולא ליטול. ונראה מלשונו אפי’ בשאכל בשר עוף בתחילה…

Earlier rishonim who required a long wait between beheima meat and dairy did not require this waiting between poultry and dairy. R. Chananel and R. Yitchak Alfasi required a waiting period only between beheima meat and dairy, but not between poultry and dairy. Rishonim in the years close after Rambam’s lifetime challenged his innovation.
Here are the core lines of the sugya (Chullin 105a) which are most relevant to this discussion:

גופא אמר רב חסדא אכל בשר אסור לאכול גבינה

אמר מר עוקבא אנא להא מלתא חלא בר חמרא לגבי אבא דאילו אבא כי הוה אכיל בשרא האידנא לא הוה אכל גבינה עד למחר עד השתא ואילו אנא בהא סעודתא הוא דלא אכילנא לסעודתא אחריתא אכילנא

Chananel comments:

וזה לשון רבינו חננאל ז”ל, ולא מצינו מי שהתיר לאכול גבינה אחר בשר בפחות מעת לעת אלא מר עוקבא דאכל בשר בסעוד’ אח’ בסעוד’ אחרת גבינ’ ואמ’ על עצמו דבהא מלתא חלא בר חמרא אנא ואי אפשר להתיר בפחו’ מזה…ע”כ הובא בתוס’ הרא”ש וחי’ הרשב”א חולין קה ע”א))

Chananel is not cited in regards to poultry and it can be assumed he is speaking only of red meat. This is more apparent in the words of his disciple R. Yitchak Alfasi (1013 – 1103) who shares his master’s view:

הרי”ף פרק כל הבשר- תנא אגרא חמוה דרבי אבא עוף וגבינה נאכלין באפיקורן וי”א באפיקוליס הוא תני לה והוא אמר לה בלא קינוח הפה ובלא נטילת ידים… ושמעינן מהא דהאי דא”ר חסדא אכל בשר אסור לאכול גבינה דלא שרי למיכל גבינה בתר בשרא אלא עד דשהי ליה שיעור מה דצריך לסעודתא אחריתי דלא אשכחינן מאן דשרי למיכל גבינה בתר בישרא בפחות מהאי שיעורא

It is clear from the Rif’s discussion of the statement of אגרא that his use of the words בשר and עוף denote two separate entities. Rif’s requirement to waitדשהי ליה שיעור מה דצריך לסעודתא” אחריתי” is only for red meat, not poultry.  Rif moved from North Africa to Spain in 1088 and was recognized there as the leading halachic authority. The psak of R. Chananel and Rif became standard over time in Spain and people waited after red meat before eating dairy; and evidence suggests that they did not wait after poultry. One source is in the Sefer Ittur of R. Yitchak ben Abba Mari (c. 1122 – c. 1193). In his discussion of the view of R. Chananel, Ittur makes clear that for fowl there is no six hour waiting requirement:

 ספר העיטור שער ראשון הל’ הכשר בשר דף יג ע”ב והלכתא … אלא קינוח הפה לגבינה לבשר. ושהייה לבשר וגבינה… ועוף וגבינה אצ שהייה לבשר וגבינה ולא קנוח הפה ונט”י לגבינה ובשר.

Another source is from Meiri (1249-1306) in his Sefer Magen Avos written about 100 years after Rambam’s Mishna Torah. Meiri wrote Magen Avos to defend the customs of Provence against the ridicule and challenge of Spanish rishonim:

 מגן אבות דף יא’ הקדמה- ומה שהביאנו לסדר אופני אלה הדברים שכתבנו…הוא, שאנחנו בעיר הזאת עיר פרפיאגיאק והחזקנו בהרבה מנהגים היו בידינו בירושה מאבותינו… ביד חכמי העיר ברדש … ורב גבול ארץ פרובינצה. ועתה מקרוב באו הנה קצת חכמים מארץ ספרד… לערער בקצת מנהגינו… וראיתי לכתוב על ספר מה שנשאתי ונתתי עמהם באלו המנהגות…

He records the Spanish custom not to wait at all between fowl and milk. He describes how in his time a new generation of Spanish rabbis began to adopt the stringent view of Rambam and begin a new trend:

דף מו’-מט’ הענין התשיעי. עוד נשאו ונתנו אתנו במה שהם נוהגים לאכול גבינה אחר עוף, ואנו מחמירים עד שישהא שש שעות או חמש כשיעור שבין סעודה לסעודה כדין האמור בבשר בהמה….ונמצא כלל הדברים, שכל מאכל בשר בין של בהמה בין של עוף אינו אוכל גבינה אח”כ עד שיעברו שש שעות או חמש…ויראה לי להקל עוד שאף באכל עוף תחילה אע”פ שצריך שהיה, אינו צריך שש שעות, אלא כל שסעודה לסעודה אפילו בקירוב זמן הואיל וסילק , ועקר….אלא שהדברים ברורים כשטתינו ואף הם הודו שחכמים האחרונים שבגלילותיהם מחמירים בה ונוהגים כמנהגינו והנאני הדבר

It is clear that the former norm in Spain was to eat cheeses/dairy immediately after poultry with no  kinuach ve’hadacha, like the Ittur indicates was the accepted halacha in that country.
(Is interesting to note Meiri’s own leniency for poultry: …ויראה לי להקל עוד שאף באכל עוף תחילה אע”פ שצריך שהיה, אינו צריך שש שעות, אלא כל שסעודה לסעודה אפילו בקירוב זמן הואיל וסילק , ועקר.)

In the two generations following Rambam, the greatest rishonim attacked the Rambam’s reform as it reversed the ruling of the Bavli. Ramban (1194-1270) was the first to challenge Rambam’s alteration:

… אבל הרמב”ן ז”ל כתב דאגרא אפילו עוף ואחר כך גבינה שרא דלישנא הכי משמע דקאמר עוף וגבינה…(ר”ן על הרי”ף חולין דף לז’)

Aaron Halevi (1230-1300) was next:

…ואפילו הכי שרינן בעוף בלא נטילת ידים משום דקיל דלא מיתסר אלא מדרבנן, ודאי לא שני לן בין עוף ואחר כך גבינה בין גבינה ואחר כך עוף… הוא הדין לקנוח הפה דלא בעינן אפי’ בין עוף לגבינה…. ולהוציא קצת מדברי רבי’ ז”ל (=הרמב”ם) שפרשו דההיא דאגרא דאמר עוף וגבנה נאכלין באפיקורן דוקא גבינה תחילה ואחר כך עוף… (חידושי רא”ה לחולין דף קד’)

However, as Meiri noted, the trend in Spain began to change [9]. Creative ways of reinterpreting the words of אגרא were created to fit this new reform into the Talmud. Tur (1275-1340) YD 89 cites Rambam’s ruling on poultry as if none other exists.

Why did Rambam change the Halacha?  Perhaps it was an anti-Qaraite measure. By extending the waiting requirement to include poultry, the divide between Rabbanites and Qaraites became more apparent. Rabbanite Jews who followed Rambam’s ruling could participate in only a limited way at a multicourse Qaraite meal which included poultry and dairy.

Waiting 6 Hours- R. Chananel’s Innovation
Until R. Chananel’s time, waiting between meat and milk was not considered mandatory by halachic authorities. One could choose instead to perform kinuach ve’hadacha – clean out one’s mouth and rinse one’s hands, if they were soiled from meat. The halachic modification of removing the kinuach ve’hadacha option was likely planned as an anti-Qaraite legislation.
Two primary authorities report on the halacha as it was in pre- R. Chananel times. One is the Baal Halochos Gedolos (BaHaG) of either R. Yehudai Gaon, head of the yeshiva in Sura from 757 to 761, and/or Shimon Kayyara (8th century). (The correct authorship of BaHaG is a matter of scholarly debate, but its author was a recognized source of halachic tradition from the 8th century.)

הלכות גדולות הלכות ברכות פרק ששי ט’ א’ (הובא גם בטור או”ח קעג’)- אמצעיים רשות אמר רב נחמן לא שנו אלא שבין תבשיל לתבשיל אבל בין בשר לגבינה חובה והאי דשרו רבנן גבינה בתר בשר משמעתיה דרב נחמן … אמר רב חסדא אכל בשר אסור לאכול גבינה ודוקא בלא קינוח אבל מקנח פומיה שרי למיכל

A careful reading of BaHaG shows that the “רבנן” cited in BaHaG refers to contemporaneous sages, not only earlier “Chazal”.
The second testimony is from R. Hai Gaon (939-1038), as cited by Rashba:

חידושי הרשב”א חולין קה ע”א אבל הרב בעל הלכות גדולות ז”ל כתב בהלכו’ ברכות… וכן דעת רבינו יעקב ז”ל וגאון זכרונו לברכה גם כן כתב אכל בשר מותר לסעודה אחרת למיכל גבינה וה”מ בחסידי אבל אנן מקנחינ’ ומחוורינן ידן ופומן ואכלי’. אכל גבינ’ שרי למיכל בשר בלא קנוח בלא נטילת ידים וה”מ דחזייה לידיה דלא מטנפא. (הובא גם בספר העיטור שער ראשון הל’ הכשר בשר דף יג ע”ב)

The Rashba is clearly citing two separate sources, the BaHaG and the “Gaon” (R’ Hai [10]). R. Hai Gaon speaks in the plural and says “we rinse hands and wash out our mouths and eat”. Evidently, this was the common practice amongst the gaonim.
What triggered the halachic transformation which we observe in the leading North African and Spanish rishonim of the following generation? (R. Chananel was about 48 years old when R. Hai passed away.)
Let’s analyze early Qaraite halachic progressions and how they correlate with inverse developments in Rabbanite halacha. To fully appreciate the reasons for R. Chananel’s modernization of milk and meat laws, it is necessary to trace Qaraite geographic, demographic, and halachic developments.

Historical Development of Qaraite Halacha
Nathan Shur’s Toldoth haKaraim[11] provides an overview of Qaraite history. Qaraism began gradually in the late eighth and early ninth centuries CE. Anan Ben David (c. 715 – c. 795), who was later claimed to be the founder of the Qaraite movement (though not historically accurate), maintained that it is forbidden to eat meat until the Temple is rebuilt [12]. Benjamin Nahawendi (early 9th century), Sahl ben Matzliah Abu al-Sari (910–990), and Daniel al-Kumisi  (d. 946), all early prominent Qaraite scholars and philosophers, forbade their followers from eating meat until the restoration of the sacrifices [13]. The Tustaries [14], a family of wealthy influential Qaraites with independent philosophic and halachic views, also forbade eating meat. Qaraite views were not uniform on all matters; Yacob Qirqisani, a leading Qaraite scholar of the first half of the tenth century, limited this meat restriction to Jerusalem but allowed consumption of meat and wine outside Jerusalem. Slowly over the course of the tenth century the abstinent trend amongst Qaraites loosened and it became acceptable to allow meat consumption [15].

From the inception of Qaraism, its scholars read the passuk, “לא תבשל גדי בחלב אמו” literally (al-Qirqisani, Kitab al-AnWar, XII, 25:4 “‘in its mother’s milk’ refers only to the milk of its mother”). They therefore had no hesitations against eating meat and dairy together and did so once they had relaxed the mourning restriction. Shlomo ben Yehuda Gaon, (Jerusalem, 1025-1051), records that the Qaraites ate dairy with meat [16].

These Qaraite developments coincided with corresponding developments in Rabbanite circles. R. Chananel was born in the year 990 and passed away in 1053. We don’t know exactly when he wrote his commentary to Tractate Chullin requiring a six hour wait, but it probably was early in the eleventh century. Soon after the Qaraites began breaching the rabbinic meat and milk halachos in the mid-tenth century, the Rabbanites responded by building a fence to guard those same halachos.

Qaraite Geography
In the beginning of the ninth and tenth century Qaraites were concentrated in Iraq and Persia, but by the middle of the tenth century they began moving westward to Jerusalem, North Africa, and Spain. During this time period, Qaraites lived throughout the Jewish-inhabited world. In every important city besides those in France and Germany, a Qaraite community could be found alongside each Rabbanite community [17]. Many of the Qaraites were great philosophers, writers, and wealthy merchants; some were invested with high political power. In Cairo, Qaraites were so powerful and influential that many Rabbanites left the fold for Qaraism, until Rambam came to Cairo in 1166 and stopped this drift by improving the political power of the Rabbanites [18]. It is thus understandable why Rambam would seek to modify Jewish practices to widen the separation between Rabbanites and Qaraites.

R. Chananel (990 – 1053) and R. Yitchak Alfasi (1013 – 1103), the first rishonim to make the six hour wait an absolute requirement, lived in Fez, Kairouan, and Spain, side by side with Qaraite communities. As the Qaraites allowed themselves to eat milk and meat together over the course of the tenth century, they became nicknamed ‘the eaters of milk and meat’. They surely influenced some from the Rabbanite community. In order to protect the Halacha, highlight their symbolic differences, and erect a social barrier between the two camps, these leaders extended the original kinuach ve’hadacha obligation to a six hour wait.

Some historians believe that the Qaraites of the early Middle Ages counted for close to half of the total Jewish population [19]. Furthermore, recent analysis of Cairo Geniza documents shows that Qaraite and Rabbanite communities of North Africa and Eretz Yisrael of the tenth through thirteenth centuries collaborated in legal affairs, political endeavors, and commerce. There were even frequent mutually respectful Qaraite-Rabbanite marriages [20]. The two communities were dependent on each other in many ways. An excellent description of this historical setting is found in Heresy and the Politics of Community by Marina Rustow (2008). The need to defend the rabbinic Halacha is understood better against such an historical backdrop. As the divide between the communities was sometimes blurred, reinforcement was necessary. It is understandable why we find a Rabbanite response to Qaraite leniencies from North African Rabbanite authorities and not from the heirs of the Gaonate in Iraq. This is because the center of Qaraite activity had already migrated from Iraq to the Mediterranean Basin over the course of the tenth century.

During the tenth and eleventh centuries Rabbanites from all over the Mediterranean would make yearly pilgrimages to Jerusalem for Sukkos. On Haosha’na Rabba the custom was for all to gather on Har ha’Zaisim and amongst other things declare blessings and bans. In 1029 and 1038, the Rabbanites proclaimed a ban against the Qaraites. It is the wording of these charamim which is very revealing. The ban was worded “against the eaters of meat and milk”.
Rustow explains the deeper context and meaning behind the ban:

…the Rabbanites and the Qaraites in the Fatamid realm conducted regular professional and personal relations. The ban’s aim was not to correct Qaraite religious behavior, but to achieve symbolic or ritual separation between the two groups. …. the principle violation with which the Qaraites stood charged- challenging the rabbinic claim to exclusive authority in interpreting biblical law …. The ban was couched, by a synecdoche that stood for an entire theological aberration, in terms of a specific infringement: eating meat with milk. [21]

The milk and meat mixing of the Qaraites symbolized the divide between the Qaraite and Rabbanite camps. It is clear why the leading rabbinic sages of this era would fortify and tighten this particular area of law.

Precedent in Rabbeinu Tam
This argument for the political origins of the six hour wait may seem novel and shocking, but in fact, the truth of its background was known from the beginning. Rabbeinu Tam (1100-1171) of France who lived shortly after the innovation of R. Channenel and Rif writes exactly this:

ספר הישר לרבינו תם סימן תעב. כל הבשר. אמ’ רב נחמן לא שנו …פירש רב יהודאי בשאלתות שנשאלו לפניו… אבל בין בשר בהמה לגבינה בעי קינוח והדחה. והא דאמר מר עוקבא להא מילתא (חלא) בר חמרא אנא כו’ היינו גבי שיהוי בלא קינוח. דהא בעי ר’ יוחנן כמה ישהא כו’ היינו היכא דלא קינח אבל אי קינח לא בעי שיהוי. (ובין) גבינה לבשר לא בעי קינוח כלל….ובין בשר לגבינה בעי קינוח או שיהוי… וכן מוכיח בהלכות גדולות של ברכות…. וכן עיקר. ואעג דרחנינא פליג אהאי פיסקא לאו דסמכא. דהא דאורי שאינן בני דאורייתא. ובקעה מצא וגדר בה גדר. וכמו שפסקתי נר’ מתוך ההלכה. ורב יהודאי גאון פירשה. והיא דסמכא….ספר הישר לרבינו תם חלק החידושים י”ל ע”י שמעון ש. שלזינגר תשמ”ה 282-283

(There appears to be printing error in this text: ר’ חנינא should be חננאל ר’.)
R. Avraham HaYarchi (c. 1155-1215) of Provence in his Manhig Olam paraphrases Rabbeinu Tam’s words (without the printing error) [22]:

ספר המנהיג הלכות סעודה אות ט’- ובהלכות ה”ר שמעון קיירא … ודאמר רב חסדא אכל בשר אסור לאכול גבינה היינו בלא קינוח הפה אבל מי שיקנח פומיה וידיה שרי ליה למיכל…, ואפילו באותו סעודה קאמר וכן כתב ר”י מנוחתו כבוד בספר הישר… פירש רב יהודאי גאון בשאלתות שנשאלו לפניו… אבל בין בשר לגבינה בעי קינוח הפה והדחה ,,והא דאמר מר עוקבא אנא להא מילת חלא בר חמרא אנא וכו’ היינו גבי שיהוי ובלא קינוח הפה דהא דבעו מיניה דר’ יוחנן כמה ישהא וכו’ היינו בלא קינוח הפה אבל בקינוח לא בעי שיהוי, ובשר שאכל אחר גבינה לא בעי קינוח ושיהוי כלל… וכן מוכח בהלכות גדולות של ברכות…. ואעפ שרבינו חננאל פליג אהאי פיסקא וכן הרב אלפאסי לאו דסמכא נינהו ולמקום שאינן בני תורה חששו ובקעא מצאו וגדרו בה גדר וכן עיקר … כפר”ת.

What is meant by בקעא מצאו וגדרו בה גדר? It refers either to the Qaraites or to the weakening of Rabbanite community values due to Qaraite influence.

Minhag Ashkenaz
What was the accepted Halacha in the Franco-German Jewish communities of the early Middle Ages? Their custom was to allow eating dairy after meat as long as a disuniting action was performed in between. Some Ashkenazi rishonim required only kinuach ve’hadach; others required birkas hamazon. Rashi [23] (as cited by Siddur Rashi and Manhig) and Rashbam [24] required birkas hamazon– the dairy foods must be consumed in a separate meal. Rabbeinu Tam allowed their consumption in the same meal with an intermediary kinuach vehadacha. Consistency exists between the two Franco-German views- a time waiting intermission as an absolute requirement was foreign to them [25].
R. Zerachiah HaLevi Baal Ha-Maor of Provence (c. 1125- c. 1186) concurred independently [26] with the view of R. Tam and reports that this was the general custom in France:

 המאור הגדול לרבינו זרחיה הלוי פרק כל הבשר – נקיטינן מהאי עובדא … היכא דאכל בשר מקמי גבינה אי ההוא בשר דאכל בשר חיה ובהמה הוא צריך נט”י והוא דאכל בלילה וצריך נמי קינוח הפה … ועוף וגבינה נאכלין באפיקורין
ולא צריכי ולא מידי … אע”פ שהקדים עוף לגבינה ..
והיכא דשהה ליה ו’ שעות שיעור שהייה שבין סעודה לסעודה אע”פ שאכל בשר בהמה וחיה מותר לאכול גבינה… בלא ובלא קנוח הפה ולא אמר רב חסדא אכל בשר אסור לאכול גבינה אלא באפיקורן כלומר בלא נט”י”נט”י
ובלא קנוח הפה אבל בנט”י ובקנוח הפה הכל מותר… ועל זה הדרך מתיישבת כל השמועות כולן וכן פסק בעל ההלכות הראשונות ז”ל ומזה יתבאר לך מה שפסק הרי”ף בהלכותיו על לא נכון…וטעו בפירושיהם להעמיד מנהגיהם ומה שכתבנו היא המחוור וכן נהגו כל חכמי צרפת

The custom of the sages of France and Germany reflects the original Halacha and simplest reading of the Talmud. There were no Qaraite communities in France and Germany during that time period and hence the Franco-German sages saw no need to respond with a symbolic and social barrier. The existence of the original gaonic custom in European communities is in line with Haym Soloveitchik’s recent “Third Yeshiva of Bavel” hypothesis [27]. Soloveitchik argues that the Ashkenazi scholarly community was transplanted from Iraq sometime between the years 930 and 960. This emigration occurred before R. Chananel’s new legislation [28]. They therefore knew only the ancient Halacha and stuck with it because they had no reason to change [29].

Rabbi David Bar-Hayim of Machon Shilo delivered a series of comprehensive shiurim (2010) explaining all the fine detail of this sugya in Chullin- how it was originally understood and how it was later re-explained.

Here are two additional considerations regarding the words of מר עוקבא:

 אמר מר עוקבא אנא להא מלתא חלא בר חמרא לגבי אבא דאילו אבא כי הוה אכיל בשרא האידנא לא הוה אכל גבינה עד למחר עד השתא ואילו אנא בהא סעודתא הוא דלא אכילנא לסעודתא אחריתא אכילנא

 1) Mar Ukva is well-known in the Talmud for his extreme piety and righteousness. See Kesubos 67b and Rashi Sanhedrin 31b ד”ה לדזיו. Why shouldn’t this statement be understood as another example of his extreme personal religiosity [30]?
2) How could R. Chananel  say-לא מצינו מי שהתיר לאכול גבינה אחר בשר בפחות מעת לעת אלא מר עוקבא? This statement is shocking. If Jews commonly waited 24 hours before dairy after eating meat wouldn’t there be some hint of it somewhere in the vast Tannaic, Amoraic or Midrashic literature? The truth is to the contrary- מר עוקבאand his father are the only sages we ever hear of who waited so long. In fact, his words are expressed in a way which indicates that he speaks of a personal private custom:  .”אנא להא מלתא… ואילו אנא…”R. Chananel himself was surely aware of the shortcomings of his argument.. He may have only said these words in order to allow for the creation of a new Rabbanite custom which would aid in segregating the Qaraites from the Rabbanites.  For the sake of launching the new order of dietary and hence societal and communal limitations, R. Chananel devised a clever way of manipulating the brief quasi-aggadic words of Mar Ukva.

The Qaraites from the start understood the biblical verses of lo sevashal literally, in contrast to the Talmudic/rabbinic interpretation. Qaraite law allowed for cooking and eating meat with milk. However, this Qaraite departure from the Oral Law did not cause strife between the two factions during the first two centuries of the movement’s existence because Qaraites adopted an ascetic mournful lifestyle, abstaining from any meat at all. Practically, therefore, during these early years, Qaraites were not cooking and/or eating any meat and milk together. In the middle of the tenth century, Qaraite lawmakers gradually adopted a more lenient worldly approach, allowing meat consumption. With authorization to eat meat, Qaraites did so with no compunctions about preparing the meat with dairy. This Qaraite breach of the Oral Law earned them the nickname “the eaters of meat with milk”. This transgression of the Qaraites became symbolic of the entire conflict between the Rabbanite and Qaraite camps.  Throughout this period, the two camps were very connected socially, politically, and economically. There were Rabbanite-Qaraite marriages, joint business ventures, and joint communities. The lines between the two camps were not as distinct as we may imagine. At some point in the early eleventh century, the Rabbanite rishonim devised a way to create greater division and social split between the two camps. Choosing the very topic which represented the heart of the schism, they reinterpreted Talmudic passages in a manner which requires waiting six hours between eating red meat and dairy products, further separating the Rabbanites from the Qaraites both halachically and socially. However, Rabbanites and Qaraites could still enjoy a poultry-dairy meal together during community gatherings or business meetings. It was more difficult to redefine an explicit statement in the Talmud allowing poultry and dairy together without any separation in between (אגרא’s statement). Maimonides was the first to attempt to further widen the gap by including poultry in the six-hour wait category. He was quickly attacked by other Talmudists such as Nachmanides and R. Aaron HaLevi for contradicting the Talmud’s legal allowance. However, in time even Maimonides’ expansion found justification by means of rereading and re-explaining the simple meaning of the passage תנא אגרא חמוה דרבי אבא עוף וגבינה נאכלין באפיקורן הוא תני לה והוא אמר לה בלא נטילת ידים ובלא קינוח הפה [31].
I am very grateful to Rabbi Bar-Hayim of Machon Shilo. Only after hearing his shiur was I able to fit in the missing puzzle pieces [32]. This paper repeats his message but also adds by filling in the historical setting which caused the new strict waiting practice.  Readers will probably enjoy Rabbi Bar-Hayim’s restorative conclusions on this sugya.

See “Rambam’s Response to the Inclusion of Chicken, Duck and Quail in Qaraite Cuisine”, the sequel to this article here.

[1] See Naftali Vieder,  התגבשות נוסח התפילה במזרח ובמעריבVolume I (1998), pgs. 323-351

[2] Friday after davening was the best time for this recital as people returning from shul would see the Qaraites in their dark homes- the rabbinic interpretation of the passuk “לא תבערו אש” needed to be reinforced by discussion in shul. Even the bracha said before lighting the Shabbos candles was likely initiated to strengthen this practice in response to the Qaraite custom. See Vieder ibid. pg. 343-346
[3] Vieder ibid. pg. 350
[4] Haym Soloveitchik, Collected Essays, Volume II (2014), pgs. 378-395

[5] Many of us are careful to drink some wine during every Shabbos seuda shlishis. The source for this custom originally (before kabbalists created other reasons) is from Rambam (Shabbos 30:9):

 חייב אדם לאכול שלוש סעודות בשבת–אחת ערבית,

 ואחת שחרית, ואחת במנחה…
וצריך לקבוע כל סעודה משלושתן על היין

I don’t think there is any source for this in the Talmud. Like Prof. Haym Soloveitchik has argued about intimacy, Rambam may have created this ‘halacha’ to oppose the Qaraite custom of abstaining from wine on Shabbos.

[6] A similar phenomenon is found in ספר העתים pg. 25:

ובשבת תקנו חכמים לטמנו מבערב כדי שישתמר המאכל בחמימתו ויהי’ חם בשבת ואיכא בהא מילתא עונג שבת. ורוב מן החיצונים תלמידי ביתוס יהי’ אהליהם לנתוץ וירקבו עצמותם אשר הטעו… שהחמין אסור בשבת ותיפח עצמותיהם… והלכך כל שאינו אוכל חמין בשבת בר נידוי הוא ודרך מינות יש בו וצריך להפרישו מקהל ישראל…

When studying the third and fourth perakim of Shabbos one sees a long list of restrictions and limitations. R. Yehuda Barcelona depicts these halachos in a positive light: Chazal required shehiya and hatmanna for the purpose of oneg Shabbos.  The beloved Shabbos lunch cholent may be an anti-Qaraite creation.

[7] Here is the relevant section from Rambam’s Introduction:

…ואין צריך לומר, התלמוד עצמו:  הבבלי, והירושלמי, וספרא, וספרי, והתוספתות–שהן צריכין דעת רחבה ונפש חכמה וזמן ארוך…ומפני זה נערתי חוצני, אני משה בירבי מיימון הספרדי, ונשענתי על הצור ברוך הוא, ובינותי בכל אלו הספרים; וראיתי לחבר דברים המתבררים מכל אלו החיבורין, בעניין האסור והמותר והטמא והטהור עם שאר דיני תורה:  כולן בלשון ברורה ודרך קצרה, עד שתהא תורה שבעל פה כולה סדורה בפי הכול–בלא קושיה ולא פירוק, ולא זה אומר בכה וזה אומר בכה, אלא.. על פי המשפט אשר יתבאר מכל אלו החיבורין והפירושין הנמצאים מימות רבנו הקדוש ועד עכשיו

[8] Also other early baalei Tosfos in Or Zarua 1:480.
[9] See Ritva and Rashba on Chullin 104-105. A similar trend is seen amongst Italian rishonim. R. Yeshaya Trani II writes:

אלא שמורי זקני הרב (=ר’ ישעיה דטראני הזקן) מתיר גבינה אחר בשר עוף. ורבינו משה (=רמב”ם) אוסר. וכך נראה בעיני שאסור לאכול גבינה אפילו אחר בשר עוף

[10] I am taking the liberty to assume Rashba refers to R. Hai Gaon. See for example Rashba on Brachos פרק תפלת השחר where he cites “הגאון ז”ל” several times and is certainly referring to R. Hai.

[11] (2003) Bialik Institute Jerusalem
[12] Ibid. pg. 28
[13] Ibid. pg. 65
[14] Ibid. pg. 55
[15] Ibid. pg. 39

[16] Ibid. pg. 66

[17] Marina Rustow, Heresy and the Politics of Community (2008), pg. 3
[18] Nathan Shur, Toldoth haKaraim (2003) pg. 60-61

[19] Salo Wittmayer Baron
[20] See Elinoar Bareket , “Karaite Communities in the Middle East”, Karaite Judaism: A Guide to its History and Literary Sources (2003) pg. 240:

The Gaon Shelomoh ben Yehuda (gaon between the years 1025-1051) tells in one of this letters that before his appointment as gaon he served as prayer leader of the Karaites in Ramle, and would pray one day with the Rabbanites and the next with the Karaites…. he pointed out that the two communities “complete each other  as adultery to a bed…”, that is sinners are to be found in both communities and there is no difference in this matter.

[21] pgs. 206-207

[22] Also Or Zarua 1:480  :

…ופר”ח שלא פסק כך בקעא מצא וגדר בה גדר.

[23] סידור רש”י סימן תקפז. See Aviad Stollman, “מהדורה מדעית וביאור מקיף לסוגיות ההרחקה בין בשר לחלב” Ramat Gan (2001) note 27.
[24] Compare Tosfos ד”ה לא שנו ,חולין דף קה: with  .ד”ה לסעודתא אחריתא
[25] The idea of a waiting period only became popular in France and Germany many generations later- probably because of influence of the seferim from the Sefardic rishonim.

[26] R. Aaron HaLevi also agrees with R. Tam in peirush to Chullin as well as סימן מח ויטרי מחזור.
[27] Haym Soloveitchik, Collected Essays, Volume II (2014), pgs. 150-215

[28] As R. Hai (939-1038) still preserved the original kinuach ve’hadacha tradition it is reasonable to assume that R. Chananel (990-1053) was the very first rishon to require six hours. In fact, R. Tam places the blame on R. Chananel and was not aware of any earlier source.

[29] Aviad Stollman in his  “מהדורה מדעית וביאור מקיף לסוגיות ההרחקה בין בשר לחלב”  and

התרחבות בהלכה כהיתוך אופקים פרשני: המתנה בין בשר לחלב כמקרה מבחן”” AJS Review 28/2 (2005), has made a thorough analysis of this sugya. Some of the more obscure sources on this topic I found in his articles. He argues that the minhag Ashkenaz here originates from minhag Eretz Yisroel and that the custom of the Sefardim to wait six hours originates from a minhag Bavel. To establish that such a minhag Bavel existed he found it necessary to downplay the words of BahaG (which indicate lack of a waiting custom in Bavel) by pointing to ambiguities in BahaG’s wording. I believe R. Hai’s testimony וה”מ בחסידי אבל אנן מקנחינ’
 ומחוורינן ידן ופומן ואכלי’is sufficient evidence that even the rabbinic elite in Bavel did not wait between meat and dairy.

It seems that Rabbi Stollman’s approach is based on the century old academic view that minhag Ashkenaz had its origins in minhag Eretz Yisroel. The remainder of Stollman’s arguments are built upon that model. More recently though, Haym Soloveitchik in his Collected Essays, has made a very strong case for the Babylonian origins of minhag  and chachmei Ashkenaz (besides for the obvious Palestinian liturgical components of minhag Ashkenaz). Stollman’s assumption that the non-waiting practice of Ashkenaz originated from Eretz Yisroel should be reevaluated. Rather, the minhag Ashkenaz here should be seen as pre-Qaraism Halacha.
It is evident from R. Hai that a small group of pious men in Bavel did indeed have a waiting practice. Though this cannot be considered “the minhag Bavel”, it may have been a kernel of precedent which R. Chananel expanded for political reasons.

[30] See Aviad Stollman, “מהדורה מדעית וביאור מקיף לסוגיות ההרחקה בין בשר לחלב” (2001) note 40.
[31] Many later rishonim explained that though the order in Agra’s statement is- poultry then cheese- it means –cheese then poultry!

[32] Rabbi Dr. Israel Drazin’s post on Qaraism – also inspired this article. His insightful essays on all areas of Jewish thought are always filled with depth and wisdom.