Shailah of the Week by Rabbi Zvi Nussbaum
Rabbinic Coordinator, Kosher Hotline Administrator for the Orthodox Union
If you accidentally cooked meat and fish together, does the pot have to be kashered?
The Pischei Teshuva, quoting the Tiferes L’Moshe, holds that the pot must be kashered (Yoreh Deah 116:3). Not only does the actual mixture of fish and meat pose a danger, but the absorbed flavor of fish and meat in the pot is considered dangerous as well.
However, many poskim (Divrei Malkiel 2:53) disagree and maintain the pot does not need to be kashered. The Divrei Malkiel explains that only the actual fish–and-meat mixture is forbidden, but there is no restriction on a meat-fish flavor.
It should be noted that potatoes or other foods cooked in a pot with a meat-fish mixture are forbidden, as the meat-fish flavor will be absorbed in the potatoes.
This is supported by the common custom to cook meat in a pot that was previously used to cook fish. Obviously, we are not concerned that the fish flavor from the pot will migrate to the meat and render it forbidden.
The Divrei Malkiel concedes that if fish and meat were cooked together in a pot, that pot should not be used for 24 hours. Although one may cook meat in a fish pot, the former situation is more severe because the pot absorbed flavor from the meat-fish mixture that was already forbidden. Nevertheless, this is a chumra, and therefore the pot can be used after 24 hours without kashering. The position of the Divrei Malkiel seems to be the more widely accepted approach.
Is fish batel b’shishim in meat?
What if a few drops of fish broth fall into cholent?
The fish drops are clearly less than 1/60 of the ingredients. As for the mixing of meat and milk, or non-kosher substances with kosher food, it is within the guidelines of bitul b’shishim (nullification in sixty parts). (Thus, if an ounce of milk accidentally fell into sixty ounces of chicken soup, the milk is batel and the soup may be eaten.)
The Shach (Nekudas Hakesef, YD 116), Chochmas Adam (68:1), and Pischei Teshuva (116:3, citing many responsa) rule that just as bitul applies to meat and milk, it applies to fish and meat. Thus, if a few drops of fish broth fell into a cholent, the meat and everything else in the pot may be eaten.
In contrast, the Taz (Y.D. 116:2) writes that the rules of bitul do not apply to sakana. According to the Taz, any amount of fish and meat poses a danger and is therefore forbidden. Not only may the meat not be eaten, but even the potatoes, beans, and barley are forbidden as well. The Taz goes so far as to compare mixing fish and meat to eating poison. Just as one would not eat cholent if it had one drop of poison, so too one must throw out the entire cholent if one drop of fish fell in.
Rav Yisroel Belsky, zt”l, was of the opinion that the lenient view is primary. As such, the cholent in question may be consumed. However, he added that there are individuals who follow the stringent view of the Taz and would refrain from eating the cholent.