Halacha for Monday 13 Sivan 5781 May 24 2021

Question: Is one permitted to eat fish with milk or butter?

Answer: The Mishnah in Masechet Chullin (103b) states: “Any meat is forbidden to be cooked with milk, besides for the flesh of fish and grasshoppers.” Clearly then, according to the letter of the law, the prohibition of cooking fish with milk is not included in the prohibition of cooking and eating meat with milk, for the flesh of fish is not considered “meat” which the Torah has prohibited; it is not even prohibited by rabbinic enactment.

Nevertheless, Maran Ha’Bet Yosef (Yoreh De’ah, Chapter 87) writes that one should nonetheless abstain from eating fish with milk because of the danger involved. The Levush writes likewise. Similarly, the scholarly doctor, Hagaon Harav Yaakov Tzahalon, writes that one should not eat fish with milk, for this causes severe illnesses. On the other hand, many Poskim have ruled leniently on the issue of eating fish with milk. Indeed, the Rama in his work Darkei Moshe writes that he has not seen people being careful about this.

There are also those Poskim, including Maran Ha’Chida, who writes that even Maran Ha’Bet Yosef did not intend to prohibit eating fish with milk; rather, he meant to prohibit eating fish with meat. The words “fish with milk” that are written in the Bet Yosef are a typographical error. Thus, although in general we rule in accordance with the opinion of Maran Ha’Bet Yosef, nevertheless, one may indeed act leniently in this case.

Based on this, Hagaon Harav Shalom Messas zt”l issued a completely lenient ruling on this matter since it is unclear whether or not Maran Ha’Shulchan Aruch prohibited eating fish with milk in the first place in addition to the fact that several Sephardic communities customarily acted leniently regarding this matter and ate fish with milk and that doctors in our day and age agree that there is no danger of contracting any severe illnesses by eating fish with milk.

However, Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l writes that the Sephardic custom was to indeed prohibit eating fish with milk because of the danger involved; indeed, several Poskim write clearly that the Sephardic custom was to rule stringently on this matter. It is quite difficult to believe that this was a typographical error in the Bet Yosef, for this custom to prohibit fish with milk would not have spread with the agreement of the greatest sages of several generations were the very basis of this law to be a mistake which stems from a typographical error. Certainly, if this would be a mistake, the greatest sages in the generation of Maran and the following generations would publicize their opinion that there is a mistake in the Sefer Bet Yosef. This is especially true since Maran himself edited his book and did not raise any issue with these words. Based on this custom, several great sages, including Hagaon Rabbeinu Yosef Haim in his Ben Ish Hai, have ruled stringently regarding this matter. It is therefore preferable to act stringently and abstain from eating fish with milk. However, if fish was mistakenly cooked with milk, even Sephardic Jews who customarily abstain from eating this may in fact act leniently and consume it.

Nevertheless, regarding eating fish with butter (which is not considered like actual milk as opposed to other dairy products), several Poskim have ruled leniently on this matter, even according to the Sephardic custom. Indeed, Hagaon Harav Abdullah Somech zt”l of Baghdad writes in his Sefer Zivchei Tzedek that the custom in his city was to permit frying fish in butter. Thus, those who customarily eat fish with butter may continue to observe this custom. Ashkenazi Jews customarily rule leniently on all of the above (including eating fish with milk or cheese) and they may indeed continue with their custom as well.

Ask the Rabbi


8 Halachot Most Popular

The Laws of Fire on Yom Tov

In previous Halachot we have explained that Yom Tov and Shabbat are equal regarding all prohibitions besides for certain works associated with food preparation, such as cooking, which are permitted on Yom Tov. Igniting a Flame One may not produce a new fire on Yom Tov, for instance by striking a......

Read Halacha

The Laws of Cooking on Yom Tov

In the previous Halacha, we have explained that although Shabbat and Yom Tov are equal in their prohibition to perform work on them and it is therefore a Torah prohibition to drive a car on Yom Tov, nevertheless, certain works associated with food preparation, such as cooking and frying, are permitt......

Read Halacha

The Holiday of Shavuot

The holiday of Shavuot will be celebrated, G-d willing, at the conclusion of the period of the counting of the Omer this coming Sunday (beginning from Motza’ei Shabbat), the 6th of Sivan (and outside of Israel on Monday, the 7th of Sivan as well). Let us, therefore, begin to discuss some of th......

Read Halacha

Grating Vegetables on Yom Tov

Question: I would like to prepare potato patties made from ground potatoes on the Shavuot holiday. Is this permissible? Answer: In the previous Halachot, we have explained that all forbidden works that apply on Shabbat apply to Yom Tov as well besides for works pertaining to food preparation in h......

Read Halacha


Taking Haircuts and Shaving During the Omer Period

Abstaining from Taking Haircuts During the Omer It has become customary among the Jewish nation to refrain from taking haircuts during the Omer counting period: According to the Ashkenazi custom, until the 33rd day of the Omer and according to the Sephardic custom, until the morning of the 34th day......

Read Halacha

Producing Sound and Whistling on Shabbat

The Gemara in Masechet Eruvin (104a) tells us that our Sages banned producing sound on Shabbat and Yom Tov, for instance, by playing a musical instrument, for they were concerned that while the tune is being played, the player will come to fix the instrument. This decree would certainly apply eve......

Read Halacha

Clapping and Drumming on a Table on Shabbat and Yom Tov

The Gemara in Masechet Beitzah (30a) states that one may not drum, clap, or dance on Shabbat lest one come to fix a musical instrument (ibid. 36b). This means that just as we have discussed in the previous Halachot that our Sages have decreed that one may not play musical instruments on Shabbat ......

Read Halacha

Toys Which Produce Sound and those Which Operate Using a Spring or Coil

Question: Is it permissible for one to allow one’s young children to play with toys which produce sound, such as a doll which makes noise when shaken, on Shabbat? Answer: In the previous Halacha we have discussed the prohibition of producing sound on Shabbat, such as by banging on a board, ......

Read Halacha