Shavuos 5771

This special article for Shavuos deals with the custom of eating dairy products on Shavuos, and their proper separation from meaty foods. What is the source for the custom of eating dairy foods on Shavuos, and how is it performed? What is the optimal way to avoid mixing dairy and meaty? And what is the ideal way in which our time over the Shavuos festival should be spent? These questions are discussed in this week's article, and also in the special Shavuos editorial. This week's Q & A explains how lefties should tie their laces.


Dairy and Meaty Foods: Dietary Laws and Ideas for Shavuos
Like other yamim tovim, there is a mitzvah of joy on Shavuos (Orach Chaim 529:3), which is manifest (for men) in the foods that are served—specifically, meat and wine (see Biur Halachah 545, s.v. veim). This comes in addition to the general mitzvah of honoring the day with culinary delights, which applies to every Shabbos and festival day (See Pesachim 68b; Machazik Berachah 242:2). Indeed, the Gemara states that whereas on other festival days some maintain that the day is entirely for Hashem (meaning that the day is dedicated to the service of Hashem, and not to personal pleasure), all concur that Shavuos is "half for you." The day on which Torah was given is a day that we must enjoy. The Torah is toras chayim, the Torah of Life, and on Shavuos we are duty-bound to sense it. Shavuos has a special culinary program. Beyond the regular mitzvah of serving and partaking of fine foods, there is a specific custom of eating dairy products. Yet, this custom should not prevent a person from eating meat, and both dairy foods and a meaty meal should be combined. Of course, partaking of both meat and milk requires taking precautions to ensure that they don't get mixed together. In this article we will first delineate the different reasons for the custom of eating dairy foods on Shavuos. Following this, we will briefly explain how both dairy and meaty foods can be carefully combined on Shavuos, without falling into halachic pitfalls.

Food and Drink on Shavuos

Dear Readers, As we note in this week's special article for Shavuos, the festival of Shavuos is different from other festivals in a surprising way. Whereas concerning other festivals the Gemara cites a dispute over how best to spend the day, on the day of Shavuos there is no doubt that at least part of the day must be spent in physical indulgence. "On Atzeres all agree that the day must also be for you" (Pesachim 68b). This statement of Chazal comes over as somewhat counterintuitive. Surely Shavuos, on which we commemorate the day of Matan Torah, is particularly fitting for pure dedication to Hashem? Why, of all festivals, is the day of Shavuos specified as having to include an element of physical indulgence? The answer to this question is alluded to in the words of the Mishnah: "Great is Torah, for it gives life to those who perform it, in this world and in the next world" (Avos 6:7). The greatness of Torah is that it gives a person life not only in the next world—something that all mitzvos do—but even in this world. Torah is called toras chaim, the Torah of Life. "It is a tree of life for those who take hold of it." The Torah is synonymous with life, for it defines not only a

By using two separate sets of bread. although there is no obligation to remove the bread eaten with the dairy meal. some have the custom of splitting meals between dairy and meaty. eating a dairy meal at night. perhaps. As Rabbi Shimshon Refael Hirsch mentions time and again. the Gemara teaches that the souls of the people departed their bodies. 114) is critical of this custom. and Orchos Rabbeinu (Vol. we sleep with the Torah. and subsequently during the entire year. Whereas on other festival days one must partake of meat. However. 98) writes that this was the Steipler's practice. The principle reason for this is to partake of two distinct dishes in commemoration of the "Two Breads" (shetei ha-lechem) offering of Shavuos. we do so with the Torah. If Torah is the Torah of life. The mitzvah of simchas yom tov obligates the eating of meat on festival days. we eat with the Torah. physical routing that human beings carry out. Yet. and this applies to both the night and the day meal. Iggros Moshe (Yoreh Deah 1:38) notes that the prohibition to eat a meat meal with bread eaten with dairy products only applies to small pieces of bread that might have come into contact with dairy products. the joy of Shavuos is manifest ØØ Eating Dairy Foods: Commemorating the Shtei HaLechem Same Meal or Different Meals Questions in all areas of halacha can be submitted to the rabbanim of our Beis Horaah at www. And may each of us merit to receive his portion of Torah." May the Torah indeed pervade our lives. 2 As noted. the Torah was not given as distinct from our everyday lives. One therefore starts the meal eating dairy dishes and foods. the people had to be born again. The nation had to die. Yoreh Deah 89:4). some bake dairy bread (Mishnah Berurah 494:16). This custom is particularly prominent among German Jews (and their descendents). when we go to work. Nevertheless. and for this purpose a fish meal might suffice. and mid-way through the meal one removes the dairy foods. it remains a praiseworthy practice. there is a halachic requirement to remove the bread eaten during the dairy portion of the meal before eating the meaty foods (See Shulchan Aruch. it is customary to partake of dairy foods on Shavuos. how is it possible that the giving of the Torah brought the people death? The answer. The large loaf of bread on the table can be used during the meat meal. and when we sleep. p. it is possible that the expression of simcha of Shavuos is distinct from that of other festival days. in the fullest possible sense. Therefore. and a meaty meal for the day. ensuring that the loaf clearly recognizable as dairy. When we eat. as we receive the Torah. This is the life that we live: "And the Life of the World He planted among us. is that at the giving of the Torah. Our post-Torah lives—physical. and this might be sufficient to constitute a commemoration of the shtei halechem offering. A Jew is never without the Torah. the custom is to eat dairy and meaty at the same meal. Although the notion of 24/7 is not usually associated with Jewish religious practice. because the concern of contact with milk is not great enough to warrant changing breads. we are obligated to integrate the Torah we receive into the simple. but as an integral part of everyday life. in order that they could live Torah lives again. no.religious service. but rather an allencompassing way of life. In other words. Although he concludes that the consumption of two meals for simcha might only be a rabbinic obligation. 2. we are required not only to serve Hashem. in commemoration of the shtei ha-lechem. on Shavuos. simple lives—could not be the same as the lives before Torah. but even to indulge in the physical. On Shavuos. According to the Rema. Rav Moshe Sternbuch (Mo'adim U'zemanim Vol. he does not entertain the possibility that a purely dairy meal (without meat or fish) will suffice to fulfill one's obligation. and replaces them with meat dishes.dinonline. To ensure that a new loaf of bread is used for the meaty part of the meal. 7. the shtei ha-lechem offering is thus commemorated (Rema 494:3). For fear that the bread came into contact with . Only by means of special dew was the nation resuscitated. One who does so must be careful to bake a distinctive loaf of bread. we are urged to live a life of Torah. in this case it is an apt code for the thrust of Torah life: The Torah is with us always. As the Torah was given to the nation of Israel. and live it the year round.

As guests at the table of Avraham Avinu. Our meticulous separation of meat and milk thus demonstrates our worthiness of the Torah (Be’er Heitev 494:8. G-d asked them: "Did you not descend upon Avraham.dinonline. 3) Wash out one's mouth and eat bread or something that clears the mouth of dairy residue (ibid. and the superlative elevation he achieved during this time. In response to the angels' claim that the Israel was unworthy of receiving the Torah. as Rabbi Aharon Miasnik (Minchas Aharon. the liquid by which the Holy Land is praised. By doing so with the proper meticulousness. The drinking of milk. which is stated concerning the Torah (Mishnah Berurah 494:13). Mishnah Berurah 494:12-13). the only food items available immediately after Matan Torah were dairy products. Rav Moshe Sternbuch (Moadim U-Zemanim 8:319) adds that before the Torah was given it was prohibited to drink milk. its whiteness a sign of spiritual cleanliness. or remove the tablecloth ( dairy foods. they would have had to follow the complex procedure involved in producing kosher meat. and we are indeed worthy of receiving the Torah Additional reasons are given based on the symbolic significance of milk. 9) suggests. A further reason for the custom is to highlight the difference between Israel and Divine angels. This state of affairs is commemorated by the consumption of dairy products (Mishnah Berurah 494:12) Shalmei Todah (no. in order to eat meat. The Shavuos meals present an opportunity for applying the laws of separating between meat and milk. the developed to eat dairy products followed by meat. Moreover. is a function of the giving of the Torah. This is representative of the purity that the nation of Israel attains over the period of the Omer count (Magen Avraham 494:6). Dairy products generally don't require must preparation. for otherwise it will be prohibited to eat milk after meat (Shulchan Aruch. Although some authorities require ØØ ØØ Symbolism of Milk Additional Reasons for Eating Dairy Foods Separating Between Meat and Milk Questions in all areas of halacha can be submitted to the rabbanim of our Beis Horaah at www. Yoreh Deah 89:2). corresponding to the forty days that Moshe spent on Sinai to receive the 3 . 2) writes as an alternative explanation that because the Torah was given on Shabbos (see Shabbos 87a). one should perform the following steps: 1) Eat the milk first. As such. An additional reason for eating dairy products is that at the time of Matan Torah the Jewish people became obligated in all of the mitzvos of the Torah. Milk is a symbol of purity. The custom of eating distinct meals of dairy and meaty dishes does not fit the above rationale given by Rema. and eat milk and meat together?" (Midrash Tehillim Chap. and we are forced to refer to other reasons for which dairy foods are consumed on Shavuos. 2) Clear the table after completing the dairy part of the meal. on Shavuos. Because this procedure required time (in order to properly prepare the meat). the need to eat dairy products can be attributed to the prohibition of preparing meat on Shabbos. but were rather not meticulous in the various laws pertaining to eating meat after the consumption of dairy products. in keeping with the customs of the day. the angels were not particular to separate between eating meat and milk. because it was considered a limb from a living creature (eiver min ha-chay). Furthermore. If meat and milk are to be consumed in the same meal. and our consumption of dairy foods on Shavuos commemorates the situation of the first Shabbos on which the Torah was given. Therefore. the gematria of the word chalav (milk) is forty. we show that we are not like the angels. This principle possible emerges from Yosef Ometz (a seventeenth century text of German custom). There is no need to recite birkas hamazon between eating the dairy foods and beginning the meaty part of the meal. the consumption of dairy products (and of honey) recalls the verse "honey and milk beneath your tongue" (Shir Hashirim 4:11). Beis Ha-Levi (Yisro) explains further that the angels did not actually mix meat and milk. Chap. 2). 4). 8).

it is important to note that even though eating and drinking is a mitzvah. Finally. Yet. one must ensure that one’s hands are clean (Shulchan Aruch. and tie the left shoe first. Hameir Laaretz 32) writes that a lefty should tie his right shoe first. The same principle applies for undoing the laces. Maachalos Assuros 9:28). On the one hand. Aside from delighting in the joy of the day. and therefore there is room to argue that the halachah does not apply to him. The Gemara resolves the contradiction by stating that it is "half for you. one should not spend the entire day in eating and drinking. and with dedication to service of Hashem. Therefore. On the In Joy and in Service other. If he’s right rooted. Beyond the above principles. Sources: The Mishnah Berurah (2:6) writes that a lefty should put on his right shoe first. the verse states. and he writes that only somebody who is left footed should switch the order and tie his right shoe first. the basic halachah and the general custom is not to be particular for this added separation (see Mishnah Berurah 494:16). and study of His Torah. However. and not like the above opinion of the Bechor Shor (see also Minchas Yitzchak 10:1. it would appear that it is best for lefties to do the same as others. and tie the right shoe first. on account of the dispute. and half for Hashem" (Pesachim 68b). each one his part. who explains the opinion). some authorities maintain that one should wait half an hour (see Hagahos Maimoni to Rambam. though some write that he should tie the right first . The day is thus celebrated both with foods. the Yaavatz in his siddur (Hanhagos Haboker 3) writes that a lefty should tie his left shoe first. The Bechor shor was apparently copied inaccurately by the Shaarei Teshuvah. which is that a person wears tefillin on the left arm. as noted at the outset. The ruling is based on the rationale of tying the left shoe first. on Shavuos we must also be careful to physically experience the sweetness of Torah. siding with the Bechor . the verse also writes that "It shall be Atzeres for you"—presenting a seeming Question: How does a lefty tie and and untie his shoe? Answer: If he’s also left footed.this. May we merit to truly receive the Torah. he should tie the left shoe first. but this is not a formal obligation. the day on which the Torah was given (see Kaf Hachaim 494:9). the source of the Mishnah Berurah is the Bechor Shor (Shabbos 62a). tefillin are worn on the right arm. the Malbim (Artzos Chaim. Yoreh De'ah 89:2). c Halachic Responsa d to Questions that have been asked on our website dinonline. Before ending. Yet. from which the Mishnah Berurah took the halachah. See Halachah Berurah (Yosef) 2. one must therefore be careful to dedicate time to Torah story—the more so on Shavuos. for lefties. 4 Questions in all areas of halacha can be submitted to the rabbanim of our Beis Horaah at www. "It shall be Atzeres for Hashem" (Devarim 16:8).org.dinonline. Birur Halachah 6. he should tie the right shoe first. However.