Q. Why does Judaism prohibit mixing milk and meat?
A. Many aspects of the Torah are in direct contrast to the customs of the neighbouring cultures. In the case of milk and meat, there is a blunt contrast with the Ras Shamra rules. The 14th century BCE Ras Shamra texts, recovered in the late 1930s by French researchers from the remains of a Phoenician colony on the Syrian coast, say, “Seethe a kid in milk”. The Jewish rule is the exact opposite: see Exodus 23:19 and 34:26, and Deut. 14:21.
This is not to say that defying the ways of other ancient peoples – and emphasising the distinctiveness of the Jewish way of life – is the only or the best explanation for our no-meat-and-milk regimen.
Some say that it shows the medical knowledge of the Torah, since eating milk and meat together was a cause of disease.
Most Jewish scholars however attach an ethical and philosophical value to the rule, suggesting that it was ethically repugnant to boil a kid in its mother’s milk and ideologically the self-discipline involved in the rule emphasises the separate identity of each element of the Creation.
Those who want to defy halachah deliberately flout the dietary laws (someone once said to me, “Already a hundred years ago in Germany my family were eating pork!”) – but those who take pride in their Jewishness consciously chose to maintain the observance of kashrut.