As we learned on yesterday’s daf, the first Mishna in our perek teaches that “every kind of meat is forbidden to be cooked in milk, excepting the meat of fish and of grasshoppers; and it is also forbidden to place upon the table meat with cheese, excepting the flesh of fish and of grasshoppers.”
At first the Gemara suggests that this Mishna does not follow the opinion of Rabbi Akiva, since he rules that neither the flesh of fowl (ofot) nor that of wild animals (ḥayyot) would be considered “meat” with regard to the laws of meat and milk. Rav Ashi concludes, however, that the Mishna should be understood as follows: “every kind of meat is forbidden to be cooked in milk: some being forbidden by the law of the Torah – meat of domesticated animals – and others by the enactment of the Sages – meat of fowl or wild animals – excepting the meat of fish and of grasshoppers, which are neither prohibited by the law of the Torah nor by the enactment of the Sages.”
The Gemara relates that Rabbi Abba’s father-in-law, Agra, taught that fowl and cheese may be eaten without restriction, meaning without washing the hands or cleaning the mouth between the eating of the one and the other.
The Ramban explains this teaching as being based on the fact that fowl is not considered meat on a Torah level, so the Sages do not require the same level of separation between fowl and milk products the way they do with real meat. Rabbeinu Tam suggests that Agra’s reasoning is based on the fact that fowl does not become stuck on the hands, teeth and gums the way real meat does.
While the Rambam limits Agra’s teaching to situations where the cheese was eaten before the fowl, the Ramban and others point out that this does not seem to be the simple meaning of his statement. Nevertheless, common practice is not to distinguish between fowl and meat with regard to the amount of time that people wait before eating milk products.