> Ask The Rabbi > The Bible > Five Books of Moses > Abraham

Avraham Serving the Angels

August 20, 2011 | by

In Genesis 18:8, three angels appear to Abraham. It says that Abraham served them milk and a calf. I realize that the laws of kashrut prohibiting mixtures of milk and meat were not given until 500 years later, but wouldn't Abraham have had the spiritual sensitivity to stay away from such a dangerous mixture?

The Aish Rabbi Replies

Good question! In fact, the Talmud states that Abraham observed all the mitzvahs. So how could he be mixing milk and meat? Many different answers are offered:

1) The reason we wait 6 hours after eating meat is because we are concerned about strands of meat being stuck between the teeth; also the fatty nature of meat leaves a residue in one's mouth and stomach. These reasons don't apply if one has eaten a milk product, and therefore no waiting is required (providing one rinses his mouth). This is indicated by a careful reading of the verse which states that Abraham first gave them the dairy products, and then the meat. (Daas Zekeinim)

2) The verse says that "Abraham stood over them." He did so to ensure that there was no mixing of meat and milk. (Midrash Hagadol)

3) The verse says that Abraham gave them "the calf that he made." Some commentators say that this was not a real calf, but rather a creation that Abraham was able to conjure up (“made”) using spiritual powers. So the calf was not actual meat, and was thus permitted to be eaten with milk.

4) When the verse says that "the angels ate," it cannot possibly mean this, because angels are spiritual beings and do not eat. Thus there was no problem of milk and meat, because they actually "ate" nothing!

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