Masechet Chullin 110a-116b

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06 Oct 2011

The Coming Week’s Daf Yomi by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz

This essay is based upon the insights and chidushim (original ideas) of Talmudic scholar Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz, as published in the Hebrew version of the Steinsaltz Edition of the Talmud.

Chullin 110a-b: Eating udder

On yesterday’s daf we learned that one can eat udder without concern about the prohibition of mixing meat and milk if it was cut open and the milk was removed. Similarly, Rav Nachman recommended that his wife, Yalta, should eat roasted udder if she wanted to taste meat and milk. According to the Gemara on today’s daf, even during Talmudic times there was no clear consensus regarding the permissibility of eating udder.

The Gemara relates:

In Sura people did not eat the udder at all, in Pumbedita they used to eat it.

Rami bar Tamri, also known as Rami bar Dikuli, of Pumbedita once happened to be in Sura on the eve of Yom Kippur. When the townspeople took all the udders of the animals that they had prepared for the pre-fast meal and threw them away, he immediately went and collected them and ate them. He was then brought before Rav Chisda who said to him: ‘Why did you do it?’ He replied: ‘I come from the place of Rav Yehuda who permits it to be eaten.’

Although the Gemara relates that Rav Chisda rebuked Rami for keeping the traditions of another community while visiting Sura, Rami replied that he had made sure to eat outside of the city limits in order to avoid the appearance of rejecting the local Rabbinic authority’s rulings.

The reason for the large amount of animals that were slaughtered just prior to Yom Kippur, would appear to be based on the Gemara in Masechet Yoma (daf 81b), which teaches that someone who eats and drinks on erev Yom Kippur is credited as though he had fasted on both the ninth and the tenth days of Tishrei. This is generally understood to mean that there is a special mitzvah to eat on the day before Yom Kippur. Nevertheless, we learned above (daf 83) that Tosafot explained it was only in the Galilee that people ate meat; in other places people preferred lighter fare, like fish or poultry. One suggestion is that the story on daf 83 related to the times of the Mishnah in the Land of Israel, while the story on today’s daf takes place in Babylonia generations later, by which time traditions had changed.

Chullin 111a-b: Eating liver

Much as the Gemara is concerned with milk that is found in an animal’s udder and requires that the udder be cut open to remove milk before cooking, the Gemara is also concerned about blood that is found in liver. Since an animal’s liver has large amounts of blood, ordinary salting is not enough to remove all of it. Here, too, the Gemara recommends cutting it open and squeezing it out.

The Gemara relates a number of stories that illustrate the disagreements about how liver is to be prepared. In one, Rav bar Shaba visited Rav Nachman‘s house and refused to eat the liver that had been cooked, leading Rav Nachman to insist that he be forced to eat, since it is inappropriate for a student to be more stringent that his teacher, certainly in his teacher’s own house.  On the other hand, the Gemara tells of Rabbah bar Rav Huna who once visited the house of Rabbah bar Rav Nachman, who noticed that a liver together with its arteries had been prepared for the meal. He objected to this and explained to them that in order to prepare it for eating it would be necessary to cut it open lengthwise and breadthwise, leaving the cut part below to allow the blood to drain from it.

According to the ruling of the Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh De’ah 73:1-2) the common practice is to broil the liver even after it is cut open and drained, so that the blood will be totally removed from it before eating. Once the liver is broiled, it can be eaten, or, alternatively, it can be cooked in an ordinary fashion. The requirement to cut open and drain the liver only applies when the liver is whole. When it is cut up, then the only requirement is to broil it.

Chullin 112a-b – Cutting sharp vegetables with a meat knife

According to the Gemara, if fish was cooked in a pan that had been used for meat, nevertheless the fish can be eaten with kutach (a type of dip made of milk ingredients). In contrast, if a tznon (radish) was cut with a meat knife it may not be eaten with kutach. This is so only in the case of a radish, which, on account of its strong flavor, absorbs from the knife, but in the case of kishut (cucumber) one need only scrape away the surface of the cut and then one may eat it with kutah. Lifta (turnip stalks) are permitted; silka (beet stalks) are forbidden, but if one cut these and turnips alternately, they are permitted.

When there is no actual meat – just the taste of meat that was absorbed by the pot or pan – only a secondary taste would be transferred to the fish that is cooked. That taste is referred to as noten ta’am bar noten ta’am – something that gives taste which is the progeny of something that gives taste. When the source of the taste is something permissible, we do not view that as significant. Regarding the case of the sharp vegetables, Rashi offers two explanations for why we are stricter when they are cut with a meat knife. First of all, we must assume that a knife used for meat will always have some oily remnants from that meat that may not be visible, but would affect the flavor of the vegetable. Additionally, the pressure applied when cutting into the vegetable may force the taste absorbed in the knife into it. Tosafot add that this would apply to all sharp vegetables, including onions, leeks and garlic.

Kutach ha-Bavli was a dip that was prepared for people to eat together with their bread. It was popular in Bavel (which is why it is called kutach ha-Bavli) and was made from moldy bread mixed with whey and salt.

Chullin 113a-b: Salting meat

The prohibition against eating blood is repeated a number of times in the Torah (see, for example, Vayikra 3:17 & 17:11-14; Devarim 12:16). How can we be sure to remove all blood before eating meat?

The Gemara on today’s daf offers testimony about how this was done.

In practice, the Rama rules (see Shulchan Aruch Yoreh De’ah 69:1) meat is first soaked in water for half and hour, or minimally rinsed well in water. Then the meat must be carefully salted with coarse salt. Finally, the salt must be washed off of the meat.

The Re’ah explains that the purpose of the first washing might be to remove any extant blood that is on the meat after slaughter, since the salt only has the power to draw out blood that is in the meat and is still wet; it does not affect blood that is on the meat that has already dried off.  The Ran suggests that its purpose is to soften the meat and to remove dirt or foreign substances from it so that the salt can effectively draw the blood out of the meat. With regard to the final washing, the Ran explains that it is done in order to remove any excess blood that might remain on the meat.

The Rosh quotes two opinions about how to deal with meat that was not washed before salting. One possibility is that the salt would not effectively remove all of the blood, so the blood would be reabsorbed in the meat in a manner that would not allow it to be removed. The other possibility allows for a second salting that would remove all of the blood.

Chullin 114a-b: Exceptions to the rule regarding milk and meat

Although it is forbidden to cook meat with milk, not all meat and not all milk are included. Thus, on today’s daf we learn that if someone cooked bones, sinews, horns or hooves in milk, he is not liable. Similarly, if someone cooked meat in whey, he is not liable.

Neither the Gemara nor the rishonim explain why some parts of the animal – bones, sinews, horns and hooves – are not considered meat with regard to this law. One could have easily argued that the passages in the Torah that are the source for the prohibition of cooking meat together with milk repeat the idea “do not seethe a kid in its mother’s milk” without ever mentioning “eating” or “meat.” It would be reasonable to suggest that the prohibition is broad and should not be limited to parts of the animal that are usually eaten.

Some suggest that based on the Rambam (Mishneh Torah, Hilkhot Ma’achalot Asurot 4:18 and 9:7) and the Gr”a (Shulhan Arukh Yoreh De’ah 87:20) we can understand that the prohibition of milk and meat parallels the prohibition of neveilah (an animal that was killed by a predator or died on its own) and treifah (an animal suffering from a terminal condition), and just as those prohibitions do not include parts of the animal that are not ordinarily eaten, this prohibition does not include those parts, either. The practical ramification of this explanation is that even soft bones would not be forbidden, since they are not ordinarily eaten.

Another approach is to view the prohibition stemming from “do not seethe a kid in its mother’s milk” as limiting this law to things that are ordinarily cooked in order to give them flavor. Things that are usually cooked in order to flavor other things (e.g., bones) would not be prohibited. According to this approach, soft bones, which are eaten by some people, might be considered forbidden. In any case, in his Igrot Moshe, Rav Moshe Feinstein rules that there is no Biblical prohibition against cooking soft bones with milk, arguing that even according to the second approach, most people cook them only to flavor other foods.

Chullin 115a-b: Is the product of a Torah prohibition automatically forbidden?

Aside from the prohibition against cooking meat and milk together, there is also a prohibition against eating them once they were cooked or deriving any benefit from the mixture whatsoever. Several sources are offered in the Gemara for these three related rules, the most famous of which appears on today’s daf  –

The school of Rabbi Yishmael taught: “Thou shalt not seethe a kid in its mother’s milk,” is stated three times (Shemot 23:19, 34:26, Devarim 14:21); one is a prohibition against eating it, one a prohibition against deriving benefit from it, and one a prohibition against cooking it.

Another approach is offered by Rav Ashi, who says that we learn that it is forbidden to eat meat cooked with milk from the passage in Sefer Devarim (14:3) that prohibits eating “any abominable thing.” Rav Ashi interprets that to mean that anything considered “abominable” by the Torah – i.e. anything produced from an activity that the Torah prohibits – may not be eaten.

Based on this logic the Gemara wonders why other prohibited activities do not forbid what they produce. The Gemara even offers a mnemonic list of such actions:

Shabbat‘ – Rashi explains that this refers to Shabbat activities such as cooking on Shabbat. Generally speaking, we distinguish between food cooked on Shabbat by accident and if the transgression was done purposefully. While there are different opinions on the resulting prohibitions, according to the majority of the Sages, even if the food was cooked on purpose it will be permitted to others after Shabbat is over.

‘Plowing’ refers to using an ox and a donkey together while plowing a field, a biblical prohibition (Devarim 22:10), understood by the Sages as prohibiting the use of any two animals that are different for such purposes.

‘Diverse kinds of seeds’ refers to what the Torah calls kilayim, i.e., planting different seeds together. Only seeds planted in a vineyard will create a situation where the produce is forbidden; all other types of kilayim may not be planted, but can be used after-the-fact.

‘It and its young’ refers to the Jewish law prohibiting the slaughter of a mother animal and its offspring on the same day (see above, daf 78).

‘Letting the mother bird go from the nest’ refers to the law forbidding someone from taking the eggs or hatchlings from a nest without first chasing away the mother bird (see Devarim 22:6-7).

In contrast with milk and meat, in each one of these cases the Gemara maintains that there is scriptural evidence that the prohibited activity will not forbid the object that is produced.

Chullin 116a-b: What types of meat cannot be cooked with milk?

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 Mishnah (daf, or page 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 Yossi ha-Galilee 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.

To support the second explanation, the Gemara relates the following story:

In the place of Rabbi Yossi ha-Galilee they used to eat fowl’s flesh cooked in milk.

Levi once visited the house of Joseph the fowler, 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 lay them under a ban? 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 Yossi ha-Galilee 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 Yossi ha-Galilee’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.

In addition to his monumental translation and commentary on the Talmud, Rabbi Steinsaltz has authored dozens of books and hundreds of articles on a variety of topics, both Jewish and secular. For more information about Rabbi Steinsaltz’s groundbreaking work in Jewish education, visit or contact the Aleph Society at 212-840-1166.

The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.