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Baking bread in a dairy oven

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Rabbi David Sperling

Av 22, 5773
Question
Shalom dear rabbi I want to bake halla bread in dairy oven which is clean. Are the hallot parve and can be eaten with meat? How long must i wait between dairy baking and parve baking thanks for your answer
Answer
Shalom, Thank you for your question. The issue of using an oven for both milk and meat, and parve food, is a matter of debate amongst the rabbis. The reason for this is that our modern ovens, which are closed and relatively small, are different form the old- fashioned way of baking in an open oven that allowed the steam to escape. The question of whether the steam from the milk dish is absorbed into the oven walls and then drawn out into the meat dish when it is baked, is the issue most widely debated. Because of this argument there is not one clear-cut halachic answer to your question. Rav Moshe Feinstein zt"l (Yoreh Deah 1, 40 and 59) rules that solid foods, such as your challah dough, do not give off steam, and so they may be cooked in any (kosher) oven and they will remain parve. This is true no matter if the oven was used for milk or meat, even immediately before the challah baking, as long as the oven was clean, and the oven tray the challah rests on is parve. However, there are many other rabbis who are stricter. Some opinions say one should wait 24 hours after using the oven for milk before using it for meat, or even parve foods to be eaten with meat. Other opinions say, in addition, one should then heat the oven to a high temperature before using it. (See Yabiyah Omer 5, Yoreh Deah 40 and the Minchat Yitzchak 5,20). For example, the work Shmirat Shabat KeHilchatah (volume 42,20) writes "One may not bake milk goods in an oven that one is baking meat in [at the same time]. Nor may one bake parve goods that are to be eaten with milk in such a way. This is true not only when the meat and milk (or parve) goods are baked at the same time, but even when baking them one after the other, one should be strict and refrain from doing so in the same oven." And "… in an oven that has been used for meat, there is room to permit baking parve goods in it after 24 hours has passed, even if they are to be eaten with milk, but not to bake milk goods". Based on all this my first suggestion is to try and ascertain if your community (or rabbi) have a clear practice which you could adopt. If not, then when possible, it would be best to wait 24 hours after using the oven for milk before baking parve challah that will be eaten with meat. If you can also preheat the oven (to a high temperature) this would be an added stringency. But, if having to wait this amount of time will mean missing out on cooking the challah for Shabbat, or cause other hardship, then you may certainly rely on the opinion of Rav Feinstein zt"l and bake the challah in the clean oven even immediately after the milk baking. May your challah be sweet, your Shabbat holy, and your family blessed.
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