“This Qaraite breach of the Oral Law earned them the nickname ‘the eaters of meat with milk'”

The Qaraites, from the start, understood the biblical verses of lo sevashal literally, in contrast to the Talmudic/rabbinic interpretation. Qaraite law allowed for cooking and eating meat with milk. However, this Qaraite departure from the Oral Law did not cause strife between the two factions during the first two centuries of the movement’s existence because Qaraites adopted an ascetic mournful lifestyle, abstaining from any meat at all. Practically, therefore, during these early years, Qaraites were not cooking and/or eating any meat and milk together. In the middle of the tenth century, Qaraite lawmakers gradually adopted a more lenient worldly approach, allowing meat consumption. With authorization to eat meat, Qaraites did so with no compunctions about preparing the meat with dairy. This Qaraite breach of the Oral Law earned them the nickname “the eaters of meat with milk”. This transgression of the Qaraites became symbolic of the entire conflict between the Rabbanite and Qaraite camps. Throughout this period, the two camps were very connected socially, politically, and economically. There were Rabbanite-Qaraite marriages, joint business ventures, and joint communities. The lines between the two camps were not as distinct as we may imagine. At some point in the early eleventh century, the Rabbanite rishonim devised a way to create greater division and social split between the two camps. Choosing the very topic which represented the heart of the schism, they reinterpreted Talmudic passages in a manner which requires waiting six hours between eating red meat and dairy products, further separating the Rabbanites from the Qaraites both halachically and socially. However, Rabbanites and Qaraites could still enjoy a poultry-dairy meal together during community gatherings or business meetings. It was more difficult to redefine an explicit statement in the Talmud allowing poultry and dairy together without any separation in between (אגרא’s statement). Maimonides was the first to attempt to further widen the gap by including poultry in the six-hour wait category. He was quickly attacked by other Talmudists such as Nachmanides and R. Aaron HaLevi for contradicting the Talmud’s legal allowance. However, in time even Maimonides’ expansion found justification by means of rereading and re-explaining the simple meaning of the passage תנא אגרא חמוה דרבי אבא עוף וגבינה נאכלין באפיקורן הוא תני לה והוא אמר לה בלא נטילת ידים ובלא קינוח הפה.

Tzvi H. Adams, “Waiting Six Hours for Dairy – A Rabbanite Response to Qaraism”, Seforim Blog (11 August 2015) [http://seforim.blogspot.com/2015/08/waiting-six-hours-for-dairy-rabbanite.html]