Shavuot: Festival of Milk and Honey

Question

Dear Rabbi, why is there a custom to eat cheesecake on Shavuot? Thank you and happy Shavuot!

2 years

Answers

  1. There is a widespread custom is to eat dairy products on Shavuot. Many people choose to enjoy cheesecake on this holiday, although other dairy products such as ice cream and cheese blintzes are also popular choices!

    Many reasons have been offered for this delicious custom. I’m happy to share my “recipe” for my favorite three reasons. All of these reasons share a common theme: Dairy products are connected to some aspect of the giving of the Torah on Mt. Sinai on this day. Therefore, eating dairy on this day is a symbolic manner of reliving the “Sinai experience.”

    1. Having just received the laws about kosher food at Sinai, the Jewish People had no choice but to limit themselves to dairy or plant-based foods. (A note to Vegans!) They could not eat meat right after Sinai since that would require kosher slaughtering, salting and other preparations necessary before meat could be eaten.

    So basically all they were left with was dairy food, such as delicious cheesecake!

    2. Torah is compared to milk in the verse, “Like honey and milk it (the Torah) is under your tongue” (Song of Songs 4:11). Just as milk has the physical nutrition needed to sustain the physical body of a human being, so too the Torah provides all spiritual nourishment required by the human soul.

    3. The Hebrew word for milk is “chalav,” which has the numerical value (gematria) of 40. We eat dairy foods on Shavuot to commemorate the 40 days that Moshe stayed with God after ascending Mount Sinai for Shavuot to be taught the entire Torah.

    I hope you find these reasons as tasty additions to the cheesecake that you enjoy on Shavuot!

    Happy Shavuot!

    Best wishes from the AskTheRabbi.org Team