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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Eating Dairy on Shavous (or Who Moved my Cheesecake)

Eating Dairy on Shavous

The Rema cites a minhag to eat a Milchig meal on the first day of Shavous. There are many reasons given for this custom, The Rema himself suggests (as explained by the Mishna Berura) that just as on Pesach we have two foods to remember the Korbanos brought on Pesach so too on Shavous in remembrance of the two loaves that were brought on Shavous we have a dairy meal immediately followed by a meat meal, each requiring its own loaf of bread.

It would seem from the Rema that:

  1. Having cheesecake at Kiddush isn’t good enough, it has to be a meal containing bread

  2. One should not have a Dairy meal in lieu of a meat meal; rather there should be an additional dairy meal.


 Aside from the Rema’s reasoning, this would seem so because one should have meat at all the meals on Yom Tov, including Shavous.

The Magen Avraham rules that one doesn’t need to say Birkas Hamazon between the milk and the meat, and can have them in one meal, but should change the tablecloth or placemats and wipe and rinse his mouth. Indeed, it is problematic to say Birkas Hamazon only in order to have meat. (YD 89 Rema).

The opinion of the Zohar as quoted by the Beis Yosef is that one should never have meat and milk in the same meal, thereby placing one in a difficult situation. He can’t bentsh and make it a separate meal just in order to have meat, but he can’t have milk and meat in the same meal. The Darkei Teshuva therefore recommends having milchig without bread at Kiddush, waiting an hour and then washing for bread. This would work according to all the other reasons to have Dairy, but not according to the Rema who requires bread. 

The Mishna Berura paskens like the Magen Avrohom that one may have the milk and then the meat in the same meal. This would definitely satisfy the Rema. The Pri Migadim (Ibid) says that according to those who require a separate meal in accordance with the Zohar, On Shavous one would be permitted to say Birkas Hamazon in order to eat dairy.

If he had ‘hard cheese’ then he would have to say Birkas Hamazon and wait six hours. (six hours for the purpose of this article is whatever one normally waits between meat and dairy). There are differing definitions as to what hard cheese is; Parmesan is a definite suspect.

UPDATE for more on cheese in halacha and what constitutes hard cheese, there is an excellent article on Hirhurim on the topic from Rabbi Gordimer of the OU

The Kol Bo quotes a minhag to have the Dairy meal in the afternoon and that one may be lenient about the waiting period after meat. The conclusion of the later Poskim is not to rely on this.  (See the Noam Elimelech, Mishpatim on Lo Sevashel gedi bchalev imo).

Indeed, the Mishna Berura, quoting the Pri Megadim writes that one should be careful on Shavous to keep all the laws of mixing milk and meat as elucidated in Yoreh Deah, and not to be ‘yotze sechara bhefsedah’, supplant  the gain (of eating dairy) with the loss (of not keeping the Halacha properly).

As noted, the Rema writes the custom is only applicable on the first day of Shavous. This is indeed the common minhag, although the Kaf Hachaim brings an opinion that it applies to the second day as well.

Obviously, many have differing minhagim as to when to eat dairy, and I am not advocating switching Minhagim.

You can, of course, order your cheesecakes in Israel from Your Man In Jerusalem


Posted on 05/26 at 05:49 AM • Permalink
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Rabbi Tzvi Hirsch HaberRabbi Tzvi Hirsch Haber is sought after by all who know him for his Halachic and practical advice. His keen ability to put complicated matters into a digestible perspective coupled with his ability to get the facts, make him the perfect blogger to help us all “Do It Right”.

A native of Buffalo, NY, Rabbi Tzvi Hirsch Haber spent his childhood globetrotting with his family. His pioneering spirit first surfaced in Melbourne, Australia, where he was excited to be a member of the opening class of Mesivta Bnei Torah. From Australia the Haber family settled down in Monsey, NY. Ever the maverick, Tzvi promptly left home to study in Yeshiva Ohr Hameir in Peekskill, where he became a mainstay of the Yeshiva, and inspired his younger brothers as well as several friends from the Mesivta in Melbourne to follow him. He then joined his chaburah in Jerusalem, first at the Mir Yeshiva and then at the Bais Medrash of Rav Dovid Soloveitchik, a senior scion of the famed Brisk dynasty. As his globetrotting family returned to Jerusalem, Tzvi returned to the US, to freeze in the famed, yet comparatively chilled Beth Medrash Govoha of Lakewood.

 In 2004 he met his wife, Suzanne Schor, a native of the warmer Los Angeles climate, and the couple settled in Lakewood, where he focused his pioneering and independent strengths on the study of Halacha, or Jewish law. His innovative spirit and innate ability to help others seeking to clarify the finer points of Judaism and integrate them into their daily lives inspired his decision to commute daily from Lakewood to the Lower East Side of Manhattan in order to bask in the day to day exposure to the world renowned Posek, HaRav David Feinstein. The daily commute was more than compensated for when he received Semicha from Rav Feinstien and the Kollel L’Torah U’lhorah (a division of Mesivta Tifereth Jerusalem) in Tamuz 5768, June 2008.

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