Eating dairy on Shavuos

The reasons for the Minhag

What are the reasons mentioned behind eating Milk products on Shavuos?

  • The Rama[1] writes that it is done in commemoration of the Shtei Halechem offering, which consisted of two loaves [i.e. two meals], which were brought on Shavuos.
  • As our previous Shechita became invalid when we became Jews by Matan Torah, and thus all of our meat and meat vessels became not Kosher. For this reason only dairy products were available to be eaten.[2]


How to fulfill the Minhag

May one eat dairy for the night meal?[3]

The night meal of Yom Tov is to consist of meat as opposed to dairy. This applies even on Shavuos in which it is customary to eat a dairy meal.[4] The dairy meal is to only be eaten the next day, prior to the meat meal of the day.


Must one wash for bread by each of the two meals, dairy and meat, or does it suffice to wash for the meat meal and have Mezonos for the dairy meal?

Some[5] are accustomed to wash on bread for both the meat and dairy meal. Nevertheless the widespread custom is not to wash for the Milk meal and rather to eat Mezonos, and then wash on bread by the meat meal.[6]


Not to transgress the laws of blessings

If one will be eating a lot of Mezonos by the dairy meal is he required to wash beforehand?[7]

If one will be eating more than 220 grams of baked Mezonos produce that receive a status of Hamotzi upon setting a meal on them, then one must wash on bread for the dairy meal and recite Birchas Hamazon. If one will be satiated from these Mezonos foods then he may wash on the actual Mezonos and recite Hamotzi on it. If one will be eating less than 220 grams of baked Mezonos produce, but will be satiated from the dairy meal, then he is to wash on real bread beforehand.


What blessing is to be recited over cheese cake that contains Mezonos ingredients?[8]

One is to only recite a blessing of Mezonos.[9] [Some however write that if the Mezonos is very thin and is barely felt within the food then only a blessing over the cheese is recited.[10]]


Not to transgress the laws of Yom Tov

May one make cheese cake using whole biscuits that contain engraved words?

It is not advised to do so due to the eating restriction to be explained. If one did so then care must be taken not to break the biscuits in a way that the letters will break.[11] One may however eat the biscuits whole, have them break in his mouth.[12]


Not to transgress the Laws of Basar Bechalav

Checklist between dairy and meat meal:

  1. Say an after blessing.
  2. Clean out the mouth.
  3. Wait one hour.
  4. Change tablecloths.


Which cheeses are Halachically defined as hard cheese that require a 6 hour wait?

All soft cheese such as cream cheese, sour cream, yogurts, cottage cheese are all considered soft cheese which one does not need to wait at all before eating meat. One must however clean his mouth and wash his hands prior to eating meat.  Hard cheeses which have not aged 6 months such as yellow cheese[13] and the majority of forms of hard cheese are disputed amongst Poskim[14] if they are considered like hard cheese and one must thus wait six hours before eating meat.[15]  One is to follow the ruling of his personal Rav. Those hard cheeses which one knows for certain have aged 6 months, or that they contain larvae, such as parmesan, Cazu Matzu, and other exotic forms of hard cheese, if one eats them one must wait six hours prior to eating meat or poultry.


[1] 494/3

[2] Shaar Halacha Uminhag 2/194

[3] Darkei Teshuvah 89/19; See Piskeiy Teshuvos 494/11

Other opinions: Some are accustomed to eat the dairy meal on the night meal of Shavuos. [custom brought in Darkei Teshuvah ibid; Piskeiy Teshuvos ibid] This is based on those Poskim that rule the Mitzvah of Simcha does not apply at night. [Shaagas Aryeh 66]

[4] The reason: As one is obligated in Simchas Yom Tov also on the night of Yom Tov [Shaareiy Teshuvah 529/529/2 in name of M”A 546/4] and the Mitzvah of Simcha is only fulfilled with meat. [Darkei Teshuvah ibid]

[5] In accordance to the reason of the Rama mentioned above that the milk products are eaten in commemoration of the two loaves of bread that were offered on Shavuos, the main aspect of the custom is to eat two meals, which both consist of bread, and thus there are two breads. [So is implied from Rama 494/3 and Magen Avraham 494/8] This is also mention in Admur 494/16 when he discusses the custom to knead bread with milk. Tammeiy Haminhagim likewise writes that one eats two meals, washing for both the meat and milk meal. See Piskeiy Teshuvos 494

[6] Darkei Teshuvah 89/19 “as he received from his ancestors”; Darkei Chaim Veshalom 644; Piskeiy Teshuvos 494/12; Hiskashrus 931; In the Chabad Tikkun Leil Shavuos it writes that one does not wash for the meal, but rather eats mezonos after Kiddush and then says a bracha achrona and washes for the meat meal. Similarly in Otzer it says that the Rebbe only ate mezonos for the milk meal. Perhaps this can also be inferred from Admur which writes that “it’s a custom to eat milk products” and does not write that “it’s a custom to eat two meals”.

[7] Seder 2/3

[8] 168/9; Shevet Halevi 4/23; Piskeiy Teshuvos 212/14; Luach [Prus] p. 41; Luach [Marlow] p. 160

[9] The reason: As the dough and filling have been baked together and are hence considered one food of Mezonos which is the Ikkur. [168/9]

[10] See Piskeiy Teshuvos ibid; Sheivet Halevi 4/23

[11] Admur 458/8 regarding Matzah on Pesach

Other opinions: Some Poskim allow breaking engraved letters that is on food. [M”B 340/15; SSH”K 11/8. Ra”sh Haleivi brought in Magen Avraham, although he himself concludes with Tzaruch Iyun]

[12] Ketzos Hashulchan 144 footnote 3;  Shabbos Kehalacha Volume 3 p. 369; 20/73

[13] These take approximately 1-2 months to be prepared. [Hakashrus 10 footnote 120]

[14] Sheivet Haleivi 2/35 and Rav Elyashiv rule one is to wait 6 hours after all hard cheeses. [See Hakashrus 10 footnote 125] So ruled to me Rav S.Z. Labkowsky.

Rav Y. Farkash however ruled to me that we are lenient today by all hard cheese [unless we know it is aged], and so writes Hiskashrus 931 “Majority, if not all, cheeses on the Mehadrin market today are not hard, and one does not need to wait 6 hours after them.”

[15] Some are stringent being that although they are not wormy and have not aged 6 months nevertheless they do maintain a hard cheese quality due their ingredients, and high fat content which is result of the new technology in cheese processing. [See Hakashrus 10 footnote 120, 125 and 126. This is also as I heard from Rav S.Z. Labkowsky, and so he rules to be stringent by all hard cheeses.] Others are stringent because it is not written on the cheese as to how many months they have been aged and hence due to doubt one is to be stringent by all hard cheeses.

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