Pareve Food: Hebrew Language Response on Ask the Rabbi
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Pareve Food

Please could you explain to me the origins of the term Pareve and how this came to refer to food that is neither dairy nor meat? Thanks very much.

The Aish Rabbi Replies:

The Yiddish word "Pareve" may have its roots in the Hebrew word "Pri" – meaning fruit. Fruit is, of course, neither dairy nor meat. In Yiddish, "ve" is frequently added when turning a noun into an adjective.

Alternatively, in old French, "parevis" is the term used for a vacant lot in front of a Temple. This vacant lot stands between the mundane street and the sanctified house of worship. Similarly, Pareve food lies between the two extremes of dairy and meat.

A few more suggestions:

The Latin word "par" means "pair." Pareve foods can be "paired" with either milk or meat.

The Latin "parus" means "equal," neither more to one side or another.

In the Holy Temple, a chamber called the Bais HaPareve was located half in, and half out of the Kohanic section. It was "neither here nor there," so to speak, just as pareve food is neither meat nor dairy.

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