Kenneth Cohen

Milk and Meat

The Keli Yakar makes an interesting observation regarding Parshat Mishpatim. It would appear that this entire Parsha would deal with laws that fall under the category of Mishpatim.

The laws in this category are practical laws that do not require a great deal of interpretation. They are necessary for a society to thrive. A great deal is mentioned regarding matters of personal injury. The importance of providing loans for the needy, and other assistance is necessary.

There must be respect for those in positions of authority, such as parents and judges. And there must be laws that show concern for our fellow Jews. We return lost articles and we help the overburdened animal.

The exception to the theme of the Parsha, has to do with the prohibition of eating, cooking, or getting benefit from milk and meat. The Keli Yakar categorizes these laws as a “Chok,” one with no apparent explanation.

It is a unique law, for the rules apply to two items that are kosher in themselves. It must be milk that is permitted to drink, and meat that is permitted to eat. Yet, when they are mixed together, they are forbidden. The same prohibition exists for cooking, as well as eating.

There are other examples of forbidden mixtures, such as mixing wool and linen in a garment. Or, cross breeding animals, and planting a mixture of grapes and wheat. Milk and meat, or בשר בחלב, would be an additional example of כלאיים, a forbidden mixture.

The laws of the Torah are complex. Despite the fact that many are obvious and make sense, there are many that demand absolute faith in their observance. We must remember that all were given on Mount Sinai, as a covenant to the Jewish people for all time. The Torah is what makes us a special nation meant to show the world all that is good and noble.

About the Author
Rabbi Cohen has been a Torah instructor at Machon Meir, Jerusalem, for over twenty years while also teaching a Talmud class in the Shtieblach of Old Katamon. Before coming to Israel, he was the founding rabbi of Young Israel of Century City, Los Angeles. He recently published a series of Hebrew language-learning apps, which are available at