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Jewish Recipes --> Judaism --> Do not boil a kid in its mother's milk

Mixtures of milk and meat (Hebrew: בשר בחלב‎, basar bechalav, literally "meat in milk") are prohibited according to Jewish law. This dietary law, central to kashrut, is based on a verse in the Book of Exodus which forbids "boiling a kid (goat) in its mother's milk". The prohibition appears again in Deuteronomy.

According to the Talmud, these almost identical references are the basis for three distinct dietary laws:
  • the prohibition against cooking a mixture of milk and meat
  • the prohibition against eating a cooked mixture of milk and meat
  • the prohibition against deriving any benefit from a cooked mixture of milk and meat.

Explanation of biblical law

The rabbis of the Talmud gave no reason for the prohibition, but later authorities, such as Maimonides (Rambam), opined that the law was connected to a prohibition of Idolatry in Judaism. Obadiah Sforno and Solomon Luntschitz, rabbinic commentators living in the late middle ages, both suggested that the law referred to a specific foreign religious practice, in which young goats were cooked in their own mothers' milk, aiming to obtain supernatural assistance to increase the yield of their flocks. More recently, a theogonous text, named the birth of the gracious gods, found during the rediscovery of Ugarit, clarified that a levantine ritual to ensure agricultural fertility involved the cooking of a young goat in its mother's milk, followed by the mixture being sprinkled upon the fields.

The biblical suppression of these practices was seen by some rabbinic commentators as having an ethical aspect. Sforno argued that using the milk of an animal to cook its offspring was inhumane, based on a principle similar to that of Shiluach haken, the injunction against gathering eggs from a nest while the mother bird watches. Chaim ibn Attar compared the practice of cooking of animals in their mother's milk to the barbaric slaying of nursing infants.

Sept 2005 - 2014 - Kosher Recipes - Kosher Cooking - Jewish Cooking - Jewish Recipes - Jewish Foods