Shabbat Parashat Lech Lecha| 5771
Ask the Rabbi: Baking meat and fish in the oven at the same time
Question: May I bake together uncovered chicken and fish (not for a milk meal) in an oven?
Answer: The gemara (Pesachim 76b) says that one should not eat fish that was roasted together with meat because of the danger of leprosy. The Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh Deah 116:2) codifies this in regard to eating meat and fish together. The Rama adds not to roast meat along with fish because of reicha (the aroma) but says that if this was already done, the food is not forbidden.
Your case seems to be like the Rama’s. The idea behind his compromise is as follows. In the context of roasting kosher and non-kosher foods together (Yoreh Deah 108:1) and baking bread near meat with the intention of eating the bread with milk (ibid. 97:3) we say that roasting things near each other facilitates only minor taste transfer (reicha) between the foods. While these situations are to be avoided, food does not become forbidden without more direct contact, including by cooking in the same pot, when the process produces zeiah (significant water vapor) in the oven, or when the foods touch. While one should avoid even roasting meat and fish together in an oven, it is fine if one of them is covered reasonably well (Shulchan Aruch, YD 108:1).
Even in your case, there is room for leniency as we will explain. The Maharshal (Chulin 7:15) allows one to roast meat and fish together in one oven, at least in a relatively large oven (like most of ours). He claims, based on the Rambam (Maachalot Assurot 9:23) that the prohibition referred to cooking the two together in one pot, whereas in one oven there is no danger. The Taz (116:2-3) cites the Maharshal but relies on his leniency only in regard to bread baked in the same oven with meat to be eaten with fish (not fish and meat together). The Shach (YD 116:1) cites the Maharshal leniency regarding our case as well, apparently even in a small oven. On the other hand, he also cites an opinion that it is forbidden even b’dieved (after the fact) without clearly favoring one opinion. There is an agreed upon issue regarding meat and fish that is more lenient than regarding matters of standard “religious” prohibitions: one can use the same utensils for meat and fish (Taz 116:2). In other words, not in all cases of transference is there deemed to be danger. On the other hand, there are opinions that we are stricter for meat and fish than we are regarding standard prohibitions, based on the rule that “danger is more severe than prohibitions.” See the Pitchei Teshuva (YD 116:3) who cites various opinions as to whether to apply the rule of nullification by 60 in this context.
As far as the propriety of following the lenient opinion, it seems that we have to decide how severely the concern of danger should be viewed. For one, is there an issue of a Torah law? Rav Kook (Da’at Cohen 55) writes that the prohibition to inflict on oneself a non-life-threatening danger is only rabbinic. Rav O. Yosef (Yabia Omer I, YD 8) says that while it is forbidden from the Torah to damage oneself, it is only rabbinically forbidden to eat meat and fish, as it only creates the possibility of mishap. Both see the rabbinic status as reason to rule leniently (each in their own context). Furthermore, many notice the Rambam’s (the famous rabbi/physician) apparent ignoring of this halacha. The Magen Avraham (173:1) sees this as support for his suggestion that the danger is not prevalent in our times and places. The Chatam Sofer (II, 101) raises an additional possibility that it applies only to a specific species of fish. (There is a rejected opinion that it does not apply to fowl- see Pitchei Teshuva, YD 116:2). While few go as far as ignoring the idea of not mixing meat and fish, many poskim factor these opinions in when looking for leniency in gray areas.
Therefore, while it is halachically safer to not roast meat and fish uncovered in the same oven, it seems reasonable to do so in a regular, large oven when there is a need.
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