Shabbat Parashat Emor | 5769
Ask the Rabbi: Cooking Parve Foods in a Cooking Bag in a Fleishig Crock Pot
Question: I like to cook foods inside cooking bags in my fleishig crock pot. May I cook pareve food in water in the crock pot or perhaps even when fleishig food is cooking in the crock pot and still consider the food pareve?
Answer: The answer assumes that the cooking bag is reliable enough to prevent noticeable seepage of liquid into the bag (see Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Deah 95:2, regarding an egg shell, which is too porous to be considered a separation). If one cannot ensure this situation, the discussion below is academic. We thus will treat the bag as a pot within a pot.
Let us start with the case where you simultaneously cook fleishig and pareve together, separated by the “walls” of the cooking bag. In this case, the bag turns into a fleishig utensil. (Had the bag contained milchig food, then first level taste of milchig and fleishig would have joined together in the walls of the pot to become the forbidden substance of basar b’chalav [see Shulchan Aruch, YD 92:5].) There is a most far-reaching machloket between Ashkenazi and Sephardi p’sak regarding pareve food cooked in a fleishig pot. The Shulchan Aruch (YD 95:2, accepted, as usual, by Sephardim) says that the pareve food remains pareve because the fleishig taste is twice removed from its source (nat bar nat), once by entering the pot and again when leaving it to enter the pareve food. However, there is a significant machloket among Acharonim if that leniency applies if the fleishig source is still entering the pot from the outside at the time the pareve food is cooking inside. Some consider it as a case where taste enters the other food directly (see opinions in Pitchei Teshuva 95:1; Yad Yehuda 95:1; Badei Hashulchan 95:7).
For Ashkenazim, the matter is quite straightforward. Even pareve food that has absorbed only nat bar nat fleishig taste may not be eaten together with milchig food (Rama, YD 95:3). Certainly then, one cannot eat the formally pareve food cooking on the other side of the bag with milchig, as it must be assumed to have absorbed fleishig taste from the food cooking in the crock pot. See below regarding some other halachot for nat bar nat food.
A more pertinent question is if only water or pareve food was cooking at the time in the crock pot. Here even the food in the crock pot is only nat bar nat of fleishig. Even though Ashkenazim are stringent regarding nat bar nat, there is reason to believe that they would not go as far as to forbid the food on the inside of the bag. After all, the Rama (YD 95:2) says that not only may one eat nat bar nat fleishig food that was already mixed into milk but one may put nat bar nat food into the opposite type utensil. (See commentaries regarding the problem of pouring hot food directly from a fleishig to a milchig utensil.) On the other hand, several Acharonim say that one should not to set up a nat bar nat situation on purpose. For example, according to one opinion, one may not cook in a fleishig pot food that he is planning to serve on a milchig utensil (Pri Megadim, MZ 95:5; see Badei Hashulchan 95:30; Rav M. Feinstein (Igrot Moshe, III, 10) says one may be lenient for even a small need). That being said, if the crock pot was not used in 24 hours for fleishig food, there is further reason to be lenient. Compared to the Pri Megadim’s case, our’s has an element of additional leniency but also of further stringency. On one hand, he is not putting the nat bar nat in a milchig utensil but in a pareve one. On the other hand, he is cooking the nat bar nat food at the same time with the pareve, which we saw may be more stringent.
Let us summarize by saying that one should not certainly not cook pareve food in a cooking bag along with fleishig food in the same crock pot, at the very least for Ashkenazim. Regarding cooking the pareve along with a pareve base in a fleishig pot, it is hard to forbid the practice, but one who wants to be careful might try to avoid doing so when possible if he plans to eat the pareve with milchig.
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This edition of Hemdat Yamim is dedicated to the memory of
R ' Meir ben Yechezkel Shraga Brachfeld
Hemdat Yamim is endowed by
and Louis and Lillian Klein, z”l.