The Torah teaches that meat and milk cannot be cooked together, stating on three separate occasions “Thou shalt not seethe a kid in its mother’s milk” (Shemot 23:19, 34:26, Devarim 14:21).
Two opinions in the Mishna (daf 113) limit the types of meat that cannot be cooked with milk. According to Rabbi Akiva, given the emphasis on “a kid” neither fowl nor wild animals are forbidden by the Torah with milk; only domesticated animals are included in the prohibition. Rabbi Yosei HaGelili rules that birds are excluded from the prohibition since they are not mammals and cannot be cooked in its mother’s milk.
On today’s daf, the Gemara offers two possible differences between these two opinions.
- Rabbi Yosei HaGelili believes that wild animals are included in the Biblical prohibition, while Rabbi Akiva believes they are forbidden only by the Sages.
- Rabbi Akiva believes that both wild animals and fowl are forbidden by the Sages, while Rabbi Yosei HaGelili believes that fowl can be cooked with milk – there is no prohibition whatsoever.
To support the second explanation, the Gemara relates the following story:
In the place of Rabbi Yosei HaGelili they used to eat fowl’s flesh cooked in milk.
Levi once visited the house of Joseph the bird hunter, and was served with a peacock’s head cooked in milk and said nothing to them about it. When he came to Rabbi and related this, Rabbi said to him: Why did you not excommunicate them? He replied. Because it was the place of Rabbi Yehuda ben Beteira and I imagine that he must have expounded to them the view of Rabbi Yosei HaGelili who said: a fowl is excluded since it has no mother’s milk.
In his responsa the Rivash writes that we can learn an important lesson from this story. It appears that both Levi and Rabbi had solid traditions that we do not follow Rabbi Yosei HaGelili’s ruling and that fowl cannot be cooked with milk. Furthermore, as the leading Rabbinic figures of that generation, had they objected to the practice it is likely that the community would have refrained from cooking fowl with milk. Nevertheless, these Rabbis recognized that the community may have been following a valid – albeit a rejected – position, so they refrained from objection or rebuke. How much more so in our generation, when there are a variety of traditions and oftentimes the proper ruling is not clear, we must be hesitant in our rebuke of others whose traditions do not follow our own.