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Eating Dairy Foods on Shavuot

Eating Dairy Foods on Shavuot


It is customary to eat dairy foods on the first day of Shavuot. There are a number of reasons for this custom. Here are a few:

  • On the holiday of Shavuot, a two-loaf bread offering was brought in the Temple. To commemorate this, we eat two meals on Shavuot—first a dairy meal, and then, after a short break, we eat the traditional holiday meat meal.
  • With the giving of the Torah, the Jews became obligated to observe the kosher laws. As the Torah was given on Shabbat, no cattle could be slaughtered nor could utensils be koshered, and thus on that day they ate dairy.
  • The Torah is likened to nourishing milk. Also, the Hebrew word for milk is chalav, and when the numerical values of each of the letters in the word chalav are added together—8 + 30 + 2—the total is forty. Forty is the number of days Moses spent on Mount Sinai when receiving the Torah.
  • When Moses ascended Mount Sinai, the angels urged G‑d to reconsider His decision to give His most precious Torah to earthly beings. “Bestow Your majesty upon the heavens . . . What is man that You should remember him, and the son of man that You should be mindful of him?” (Psalms 8:5-7). One of the reasons why the angels’ request went unheeded is because of the Jews’ meticulous adherence to the laws of the Torah—including the kosher laws. Not so the angels, who when visiting Abraham consumed butter and milk together with meat (Genesis 18:8). On Shavuot we therefore eat dairy products and then take a break before eating meat—in order to demonstrate our commitment to this mitzvah.

Click here for traditional Shavuot dairy recipes

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Discussion (23)
June 8, 2016
In several places in the Midrash (for example Shemos Rabbah 2:4) it describes G-d telling the angels that they have no right to the Torah because they are meat and milk together.

The source for the angels "pretending" to eat is in Bava Metzia 86b. In Tosafos there it mentions the opinion of the Midrash, that they actually ate milk and meat together.
Eliezer Zalmanov
June 7, 2016
Please post the source for that last reason about the angels eating milk and meat together. I am having trouble understanding it, as Rashi (Parshas Vayera, Ch. 18, V. 8) writes that the angels didn't eat at all, they only pretended to eat.
Additionally, where is it written that they (pretended to) ate milk and meat together? Isn't it possible that they had the dairy foods as an appetizer and by the time they slaughtered, salted and cooked the meat, the necessary wait time had passed?
May 17, 2013
Sambusak Recipe
2 teaspoons kosher salt
8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperatures
1/2 cup cold water
1/2 cup sesame seeds
Cheese Filing:
1-1/2 pounds Muenster cheese, grated
3 lightly beaten eggs
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1-1/2 cups sesame seeds
Pastry Dough:
Combine flour and salt. In a separate bowl cream butter with a mixer. Alternately blend in the flour mixture and water. When dough begins to come together, knead until it forms a ball. Set dough ball aside to rest and prepare filling

Place 1 teaspoon of filing in the center of the round and fold dough in half so edges meet. Tightly crimp edges. Repeat until dough and filling are used up. Place 1/2 cup of sesame seeds on a plate, to dip each sambusak in on each side. Place on ungreased baking sheets for 20 minutes in a preheated oven at 400 degrees F.
Tim Upham
Tum Tum, WA
May 16, 2013
Tim Upham
do you have the recipe for sumbusak?
Joe S.
Va., Ca.
May 14, 2013
dairy ?
Heading for 76yrs,at last I have had the good fortune of reading Hulda Clarke's A Cure for all diseases.,and in her book she recommends bring raw milk to gentle boil to kill off some parasites.Having done this and enjoyed drinking the hot milk I noticed my fingernails growing strongly.Wow. Thanks Hulda!
May 14, 2013
Sambusak For Shavuot
I make sambusak, a savory Sephardic cheese pastry. It is made with muenster cheese, so Ashkenazim should like it too.
Tim Upham
Tum Tum, WA
May 28, 2012
Men and angels
Getting away from the whole dairy thing - a piece of cheesecake is not lethal - I take issue with the idea of men being more holy than the angels. The angels never fashioned a golden calf to worship but men 'with the meticulous adherence to kosher law' I think may have done. Shavuot may emphasize the importance of each individual but let's not get carried away.
Sidney Wilson
May 23, 2012
Even on Shabbat?
Is dairy only eaten on the first day of Shavuot even when it falls out on Shabbat?
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
May 22, 2012
Veet Vivarto
It's easy to to delegitimize others' opinions by calling them old wives' tales.

I'm not fond of the so-called "scientific" studies funded mostly by the food and pharmaceutical industries. I'd rather follow the traditions of my family.

Devra Davis, PhD, who once was the director of the Center for Environmental Oncology of the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, has many eye-opening books on this very same issue. Trends in Cancer Mortality in Industrial Countries and The Secret History of the War on Cancer" just to name a few.

French and Italian cuisines are full of cheese, butter, cream and milk, yet they have fewer cardiovascular disorders than most Americans, who claim to lead a healthy life with their low fat but overly sweet protein shakes and breakfast cereals. I have yet to see an obese French or an Italian with gluten issues.

I wish we all could see the direct effects of food on our bodies, but G-D keeps this as a mystery like many others things in this World.
S Sanchez
Los Angeles, CA
May 21, 2012
Repeating old fallacies

You are repeating old wives tales:
We have all heard the stories about how good dairy is, and how yogurt supposedly has beneficial bacteria. Unfortunately these are all lies.

Every part of dairy is bad for you:
The lactose, the milk fat, and the milk protein.

The above statement is based on countless population studies and on controlled experiments. The biggest of them is "China Study".

Dairy causes cancer, heart attacks, diabetes, arthritis and 800 other diseases.
Diabetes type 2 is caused by too much fat in diet, while diabetes type 1 is caused by destruction of pancreas through auto-immune reaction to cow milk.

Yogurt has ZERO benefit. The bacteria in yogurt are acidophilis bulgaricus, they cannot live inside human body. The natural bacteria in healthy human colon is acidophilis bifidus.

Stop spreading your ignorance.

As for soy, it is unnecessary. It can be harmful to some people, but not nearly as much as milk.
veet vivarto
Kapaa, HI