Thursday, 10 June 2010

Why do Yekkes Wait 3 hours After Meat instead of 1 or 6?

This were some highly useful points that emerged out of a LONG private thread.


  1. Tosafot/ BeHeG require NO waiting between meat and milk - except to end 1 meal and to being another - totally subjective timing.
  2. Rema codifies 1 hour. - though he RECOMMENDS [nachon] to wait 6.
  3. Meharshal/Shach/Chochmas Adam,and others take anything less than 6 hours as some kind of major deviation against Halachah despite the fact that yekkes were waiting 3 during that very same era and the Dutch only 1 [as per Rema]. [Caveat Chochmas Adam is meikel in the case of illness to rely upon 1 hour.]
Avodah Colleague Michael Poppers then asked Me:

I wonder if 3 is actually a chumra of 1-hr immigrants who immigrated to a 6-hr territory and justified 3 rather than 6 on the smaller gaps between meals in their way of life. What do you think?

Tthe thought of being influenced by fellow Jews is something I just (relatively speaking) thought of; based on how YD 89 is explained, with the mandate to separate between meals and all that, I previously posited and still believe, as you note, that having three rather than two meals per day may have had an impact upon the practice to wait three rather than six hours

All the best from --Michael Poppers

There are a number of answers. I personally have never factored in immigration as one of them. It is a very good point to ponder.

More background:
  1. The Hagahos Shaa'rei Dura - suggests that 1 hours is a mere humra over the position of Tosafos.
  2. Gra objects to this line of reasoning and cites the Zohar on Mishpatim as requiring 1-hour bidirectionally.
Question: What is the source/origin for 3 hours?
  1. Rav Schwb ZTL held it was a humra based upon 1 hour.
  2. Some say it is 6 hours using the very shortest Sha'os Z;maniyos
  3. Some say it is averaging the zero [or perhaps 1] hour option with the 6 hour option and getting 3 [or 3.5 rounded to 3].

Question: how did we get 6 any? [W/O going back to the Gmara]
  1. Rambam talks about how long the meat lingers in the mouth before dissolving from its state of "meatiness" due to digestive saliva.
  2. Rashi talks about internal digestion of fats lingering for 6 hours..
  3. Rif taking the Gmara a bit more literally waits between meals. He then used the Talmudic model where the morning meal [app.11:00AM until noon] and the evening meal [app.6:00 pm] as the boundaries based upon societal standards. The Rif therefore suggests but does NOT codify 6 hours. AFAIK It is the Rambam who is the first to use that magic number.

Ashkenazim tend to view things in a more sociological prism than others as opposed to just using text. The Rif was basing himself upon a 2-meal a day model. However, in parts of Ashkenaz the daily routine had evolved into a 3-day a meal plan. [I speculate that this was first manifest in Vienna - a city that may have been the culinary capital of the world.]

Now you COULD stick to the Rif's model based upon Talmudic timing OR apply the Rif CONCEPTUALLY to the idea of one SOCIETY-timed meal to the next. [Tosafos had already taken the poistion of one PERSONAL SUBJECTIVE meal to the next.] Therfore, since society was only waiting 3 hours between meals the Rif implictly would require [approx.] a 3 hour wait after meat in a 3 meal-a-day society.

Bottom line: I see the Ashkenazic 3 hours as an application of the Rif's principles to a different society.

[Caveat to my friend Jon Baker: No, I do not have any historical evidence to support this. It is merely educated speculation. Michael Poppers hypothesis about immigration may have been the historically correct phenomenon.]
Kol Tuv / Best Regards,
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Previously published in 2007


Dov Kaiser said...

I have seen Rabbeinu Yerucham cited as the textual source for 3 years. That doesn't negate your theory, of course.

Rabbi R Wolpoe said...

I actually have seen "MY" theory in some s'farim - So it's not exact;y mine. But it's the kind of explanation that does fit my way of thinking so I might have come up with something like this.