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    Dairy on Shavu’ot – Ask the Rabbi

    Q. Why are dairy foods customary on Shavu’ot?

    Milk_glassA. Interpretations include:

    1. Torah is likened to milk – one is the basic nourishment for the soul, the other for the body.

    2. In the northern hemisphere Shavu’ot is in the summer when lighter foods are preferable.

    3. It is a hint of God’s original plan, to be fulfilled in messianic times, for a world without violence, including killing animals for food.

    4. The numerical value of chalav – milk – is 40, reminding us that when the Torah was given Moses ascended Mount Sinai and spent 40 days and nights in communion with the Almighty.

    5. We may not consume meat that is torn from the body of a living animal (Ever Min HaChai). Meat therefore is only allowed if the animal has been properly slaughtered (using the laws of shechitah). Milk, on the other hand, comes by definition from a living animal. In case one thought that the rule against meat from a living animal also entailed not consuming milk from a living animal, the Jewish tradition specially ordained an occasion – Shavu’ot – which features and celebrates the eating of milk products.

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