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The milchigs on shabbos conundrum

Background story:

I hate to admit it, but the frum Jews on the West Coast don’t really know how to practice real frumkeit. They have created this hybrid based on their little exposure to Chabad, local community kollel rabbis and the rare FFB who visits their shul for some tech conference. In some ways it’s refreshing to go to a shul where the rabbi gives mussar to a bunch of people who talk about it all through their shabbos meals. Then again, those same people violate clear Orthodox policy and make plans for their movie nights without even adding the whole “not to speak of this on shabbos” phrase. Even more horrific is the fact that many of these obvious apikorsim are making such plans over a dairy lunch without busser or dugim!

Let us not waste an entire post to bash BT’s who have no idea how to be frum; if they never leave the Bay Area they won’t need to know such things. Around here, no one puts you in cherem for having milchigs on shabbos, but I’m fairly certain that you are more likely to make it to the list of non-approved homes at your local shul. You see, many local shuls have a secret list of approved homes where you can dine, and you can only make the list if certain criteria are met. Of course, we can only speculate as to what those criteria are, but I’m pretty sure it has something to do with how you practice regular frumkeit. By regular frumkeit I mean things like your family policy on television, internet filters, placement of your seforim, a large glass case of silver Jewish paraphernalia and what periodicals your family reads. It’s a real sign of pikuach nefesh to get frum magazines around here because they’re double the price.

What really happened:

My wife and I were invited to a meal recently that took place on the same shabbos as a big fleishig kiddush. Our hopes of fressing and later farting due to our intake of copious amounts of meat-filled cholent were dashed as one of the other meal’s guests warned us that we were going to be having milchigs for lunch. If this was in my pre-California days I would have immediately informed the rabbi that we had imposters in the shul who must have worked with Jews for Jesus but not have studied the uniform foods which frum Jews serve for shabbos lunch. Alas, I have been here for 3 years and with my mind so far opened that my brains were falling on my liberal shoulders, I consulted my wife.

She pounded her feet dug her toes into the ground and said “what the F?” as I consulted my off the derech thoughts and rolodex of skepticisms as to how we could circumvent regular practice and go according to the days of yore, before that 6 hour, into the 6th hour, 1 hour, 3 hour or whatever you chose between milk and meat thing came around. It’s not a goat or a kid, and we can eat around the meat, right?

In my opinion, the best strategy to use when it comes to tackling such a conundrum is to do a cost basis analysis. Simply put, is the fleishig kiddush better than the milchigs lunch? Now if you aren’t a smart ass like myself you wouldn’t just walk up to your host and ask them exactly what kind of milchigs they were having. I once decided to forgo a fleishig kiddush for a milchig lunch only to show up at my hosts who were having a parve lunch, save for a small log of goat cheese to spread on challah during the humus course. I was beyond pissed, in my younger years I would have let them have it, but I stayed quiet and schemed in my head about all the evil things I would do to them when I got to host them.

“You’re having Lasagna!”

Now what the hell was I supposed to do? I was in a tough spot, this heaping meaty cholent staring at me with my yetzer harah trying to entice me to forgo the mitzvah of meat on shabbos and eat lasagna. The cholent looked good and I had no idea if the lasagna was going to be good. This was indeed a big conundrum.

Like any skeptical smart ass FFB, a lot of thoughts entered my head: we could eat cholent, cancel lunch and get started on some good long shabbos shluff. We could eat cholent and miraculously forget about it as the cheesy lasagna came out, but in the end we stuck to our morals. I didn’t eat the cholent, and ate lasagna. My wife accidentally ate this latke thing that turned out to be chicken, and had to abstain.

The reality of having milchigs on shabbos:

As you can see from the illustration above, there is a good reason as to why most normal frum folks don’t have milchigs on shabbos. I have been in communities where people have warned me in advance as to who is likely to have milchigs on shabbos. When warning me, people would always throw in some loshon horah about those “types” of folks who ate milchigs or parve on shabbos chas v’shalom. Unfortunately for the modern day frum community, we are lacking in people who have strong enough morals to avoid a cholent kiddush in order to appease their milchig hosts. In many cases, people fail at the nisayon and transgress the minhag yisrael of waiting between meat and milk.

Having milchigs on shabbos can also have long lasting negative effects on your community. People may not want to move to the type of community that tolerates milchigs on shabbos, they may view it as more “modern” and put it down to others. The community may not attract as many regular flieshigers as they want. Shidduchim is another factor that those milchigs on shabbos types seldom look at, most of the time they are basking in their glory as those unique people that can eat ice cream at shaloshudos on winter shabbosim and ignoring the fact that their bais yaakov daughter is the last in her class to marry because her parents are perceived as “too open minded”.

Find out more about milchigs on shabbos at 4torah.com




{ 23 comments… add one }
  • Aaron S December 15, 2012, 8:26 PM

    I’m proud to be a member of an entirely apikorsis community that has milchig kiddush almost every Shabbat in order to better accommodate dairy lunches.

    • E. Rasko December 15, 2012, 8:48 PM

      My haddameh makes a better milchig kiddush than you do.

      You call rice and beef a chulent? Aaron, please.

      I’ll repeat myself so you get the point. We may be apikorsim but we know what we like.

  • Zev Nadler December 15, 2012, 8:42 PM

    LOL! Brilliant and nostalgic por moi’!! I wonder how many people realize you’re not kidding about the shidduchim prospects…as a FFFB or F3B (Formerly Frum From Birth) I can only wonder how a Vegan shabbos lunch would be accepted since there is obviously no issue with the basari/chalavi problem…but it may just very well be too trendy and healthy for Those of the Lavoooooosh

  • E. Rasko December 15, 2012, 8:45 PM

    My haddameh makes a better milchig kiddush than you do.

    You call rice and beef a chulent? Aaron, please.

  • Rabbi Joseph Kolakowski December 15, 2012, 8:49 PM

    actually, the Satmar Rebbe, zy”a, would go out of his way to daven shacharis early one shabbos in the summer, in order to partake of milchigs by shalosh seudos at least one time a year, as that was considered to be bringing the sefirah of Chesed into the Shabbos Seudos. However, this time of the year that doesn’t work. He also made sure to always serve cholent during the summer at kiddush, because he was worried (in those days when Satmar Chassidim looked more modern than today’s “Litvishe” crowd) that some people did not have cholent at home, because the Shulchan Aruch tells us that if someone does not eat “chamin” on Shabbos one should suspect them to be a “min” (similar to an apikores).

  • Batya December 15, 2012, 9:01 PM

    Heshy, this really is an important post. In Shiloh, the real one here in the HolyLand, there are a few families that serve dairy Shabbat food. Some are 100% vegetarians and are therefore excused, but others will eat fleishig. At least the only flesh served at a kiddush here is herring.
    It’s the hidden meat or dairy which is the most dangerous for those who keep kosher, like the chicken “latkes” your wife ate or parve-looking veggies that are cooked with either butter or chicken soup. They should be labeled clearly or banned.

  • Heshy Fried December 15, 2012, 9:15 PM

    I should mention that I personally prefer a milchig shabbos meal, mostly because I work with meat all week. Before I took up cooking as a career and had access to wholesale meat I would crave meat all week. Now I would much rather a light parve or milchig lunch on shabbos, so much so that I go out of way to find out who has milchigs on shabbos so I could invite myself to them.

    So I guess it boils down once again to the fact that milchigs is rare and therefore I want it more. We also have no milchig places to eat in the Bay Area.

    • Anonymous December 17, 2012, 9:51 AM

      what about amba or izzy’s?

  • milhouse trabajo December 15, 2012, 11:16 PM

    just had my second weak in a row of only milchigs/fish, best thing ever. now i can have coffee with milk, ice cream and other stuff and really enjoy shabos without feeling a ton of bricks in my stomach.

  • mrmoose December 16, 2012, 5:24 AM

    I know of at least two prominent Rabbis who do not eat meat on shabas day so they can have a coffee with milk before they give a shiur later in the afternoon

    • Dan December 16, 2012, 7:36 AM

      probably you mean priests

  • S.H. December 16, 2012, 7:13 AM

    This is a great post, Heshy! Funny, witty, not really bashing anyone. Just a light hearted look at one of the more mundane aspects of the Orthodox experience. Reminds me of the old Heshy kayaking on Silver Mine Lake and talking about Monsey people exercising (or lack thereof), before you started getting into deep issues like whether God exists, how we can stop child rapists and whether Mindy Meyer is attractive. Keep it up, Hesh!

    • Dan December 16, 2012, 7:38 AM

      You should have eaten the cholent, then gone to the meal and said you were fleishig, but insinuated just a drop that you got fleishig on purpose because you don’t really trust their kashrus.

  • Israelit December 17, 2012, 3:07 PM

    Some people are too poor to eat basar all the time on Shabbat, especially those of us from “out of town” who have to spend a week’s wages to get decent cut of kosher meat. We get lucky to afford 1 fleishig meal a month, and I’m sure we’re not the only ones.

  • Kirby Z December 17, 2012, 11:28 PM

    We have a milchig Shabbos lunch every couple of months. Our kids are still little, and honestly they don’t eat so much.
    I always make sure to make a big deal about it if we invite guests to join us at our “Very Special Dairy Lunch!”
    And I always lay the dairy on thick, no fooling around. Bleu cheese dressing in the salad. Cream cheese shmear with the challah. A good sour cream sauce for the fish. Grab some cheese bourekas from our kosher deli to serve. And the main around here is usually potatoes and cheese in some form or another. Pop a pan of that on the blech and you can’t beat it. No one complains. It’s not light, it’s just delicious. We love diary lunch!! (No matter how not-frummie it makes us look. Just more food for us!)

  • thinking outloud December 18, 2012, 1:13 AM

    I resent these implications…
    My wife and I are FFB’s who lived in Northern California for an extended period of time and who appreciated a milchig shabbos lunch every so often… (e.g., fresh wild sockeye from Ver Brugge expertly filleted with their ‘kosher’ knife, cut on paper — with all that treif meat in sight) The shul’s chulent wan inevitably vegetarian parave.

  • Never Frum Enough December 19, 2012, 11:36 PM

    Living in a fairly right wing community I have the common decency to ask my guests if they’re OK with a dairy meal (including fish of course). I always say I hadn’t decided yet and ask how they feel about it. Some say OK, some say they prefer fleishig. It’s never ruined a friendship or cost my daughter a date….that I know of. Does it label me as liberal to my community? Sure, but I can live with that.

  • azny December 20, 2012, 1:56 AM

    This is why Frummies should always go to shul with extra Tupperware containers. You could have packed away some cholent for later. Jews invented doggy bags!!! didn’t we learn our lesson from leaving Mitzrayim too quickly??
    Tsk,Tsk– bad Heshy!

  • bug out January 31, 2013, 5:07 PM

    Only ffb’s care so much about food.

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