Why Dairy on Shavuot?

A survey of the many explanations given for the tradition of eating milk products.

Print this page Print this page

In some Jewish communities, it is customary to follow the traditional dairy meal with a meat dish (after waiting the requisite 30 minutes per the laws of kashrut, except in places where the rabbis waived the normal separation). The two foods represent the two loaves brought on the festival. We are also supposed to eat meat as a contribution to our joy on a festival day. This can cause practical problems, however, not only in terms of the time lapse, but because you cannot mix milk and meat dishes and utensils. Therefore, it is more common to have a dairy meal on the first evening of Shavuot and then serve meat the next day.

Along with blintzes and burekas, cheesecake is a widely popular Shavuot item. Some eat kreplach, three-cornered dumplings that are often filled with meat but can be cheese filled or even vegetable filled. They are supposed to remind us of the Torah, which is comprised of three sections (Torah, Nevi'im, and Ketuvim / Torah, Prophets, and Writings), which was given to Israel, which is comprised of three categories (Kohanim, Leviim, and Yisraelim)  through Moses, who was the third child of Amran (after Aaron and Miriam), following three days of preparation (Exodus 19:11) in the third month of the year (Exodus 19:1).

Did you like this article?  MyJewishLearning is a not-for-profit organization.

Please consider making a donation today.

Lesli Koppelman Ross is a writer and artist whose works have appeared nationally. She has devoted much of her time to the causes of Ethiopian Jewry and Jewish education.