Shavuoth, the springtime feast of weeks, falls precisely seven weeks after Passover and is a holiday celebrating the giving of the 10 Commandments on Mount Sinai. It is also a holiday that celebrates the harvest of the first fruits. No one questions the importance of Shavuoth in Jewish life but, every year as the holiday approaches, it seems appropriate to ponder on the fact that no one seems to know precisely why it is considered traditional to celebrate the holiday by eating dairy dishes. Some say that such dishes remind us that the Torah is as sweet and nourishing as milk and honey. Others claim that the tradition honors the Israelites who were wandering through Sinai and gave up meat dishes as a sacrifice just before Moses ascended the mountain to receive the Torah. Some students of the kabbalah say that dairy products have a special purity, one that reminds us that if we are faithful to the Torah we will eventually attain paradise.
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Sources: Embassy of Israel; Israeli Foreign Ministry; Rogov's Ramblings- Reprinted with permission.
Daniel Rogov is the restaurant and wine critic for the daily newspaper Ha'aretz. He is also the senior writer for Wine and Gourmet Magazine and contributes culinary and wine articles to newspapers in Europe and the United States.