Shabbat Parashat Ki Tavo| 5763
Ask the Rabbi
Question: I use my oven for baking fleishig foods. If I haven’t used the oven for 24 hours and bake a pareve cake, can I eat it with milk?
Answer: Please be aware that there are diverse minhagim in different communities regarding the use of ovens for different types of foods. What we write here is not intended to delegitimize any ruling you have received from a competent, rabbinic authority.
We start with the case that you use a fleishig baking pan. Does the fleishig taste, which entered the pan, exit it, enter the pareve food and turn it into fleishig. This double-removed taste, known as nat bar nat, is the subject of a major machloket between the Shulchan Aruch and the Rama (Yoreh Deah 95:2), with the Rama ruling for Ashkenazic Jewry that it is proper to treat the formerly pareve food as fleishig.
However, if the pan has not been used for 24 hours, then the taste remaining in it is not halachically significant. It is true that Chazal did not allow us to use non-kosher utensils that have remained unused for 24 hours. However, since, in this case, even within 24 hours, the fleishig status of the food is far from clear, the cake you refer to is considered pareve. For this reason, the Gra (ad loc.:9) permitted the use of such a pan for the purpose you describe. On the other hand, many acharonim prescribe to the opinion of the Chuchmat Adam (48:2) (with which the Rama (ibid.) mildly implies that he agrees) that one should not set up such a situation l’chatchila (of his own choice). In other words, if one planned to eat the cake with fleishig or pareve and then a situation arose where he decided to eat it with milchig, he could do so. However, he should not bake with the intention to eat the cake with milk.
Thus, the proper thing, from this perspective, is to use a pareve or disposable pan. The problem is that the oven might cause problems. The Rama (YD 108:1) rules that taste is transferred from one food to another when they were baked or roasted in an oven at different times only if there was condensation (zeiah) from both foods on the walls of the oven. A “fleishig oven” presumably had fleishig condensation at some time during its use. But it is unclear how liquid does a food and how insulated does an oven have to be in order that there be zeiah to bring the fleishig from the walls to the food (see Igrot Moshe YD I:40). Bread and relatively dry cake dough probably do not create zeiah in a normal oven and will remain pareve. (One must make sure that the pan doesn’t touch a surface with fleishig residue on it.) However, a liquid batter may create zeiah. When this is so, the zeiah compromises the pareve status of both the cake and the pan. (If the oven was well cleaned and had not been used within 24 hours, the pan would not need to be kashered).
There are at least two legitimate solutions to this problem. One is to cover the cake batter (where feasible) so that escaping moisture is insufficient to transfer taste (Rama, ibid.). The other is to do libun kal on the oven before baking the cake to remove the fleishig taste from the walls and burn any surface residue. A half-hour of heating at the oven’s highest temperature is usually sufficient. (More time is needed if there is significant spillage which one did not remove prior to heating.) Even one who relies on the aforementioned Gra must ensure that there is no edible residue on the walls of the oven in a case where zeiah could bring residue into the food, even though tiny quantities will not ruin the food b’dieved (after the fact) (see Igrot Moshe I:40; Gilyon Maharsha 99:6).
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