Traditionally dairy (milk and cheese) are the mainstay of Shavuot cooking. Starting from the non-biblical tradition that Moses received the Torah on Shavuot, these are the simplest to understand although requiring a stretch of logic.
- The Ten Commandments encompass all 613 commandments. Thus, when the Jews returned to their tents after the giving of the Torah, they were bound for the first time by the Torah’s dietary laws. Therefore, they could not eat meat, for they first had to prepare a proper slaughtering knife, remove the forbidden fats from the slaughtered meat, salt it and procure kosher cooking utensils. All this made it necessary for them to eat dairy, rather than meat, at that time.
- Torah is likened to milk, as the verse says, “Like honey and milk [the Torah] lies under your tongue” (Song of Songs 4:11). Just as milk has the ability to fully sustain the body of a human being (i.e. a nursing baby), so too the Torah provides all the “spiritual nourishment” necessary for the human soul.
- Honey comes from a bee, which is not kosher, and milk comes from a live animal whose meat is forbidden until the animal is slaughtered. Both honey and milk, therefore, allude to the power of Torah which can transform a sullied soul into one of holiness and purity.
- According to the Zohar, each one of the 365 days of the year corresponds to a specific one of the Torah’s 365 negative commandments. The Torah says: “Bring Bikkurim (first fruits) to the God’s Holy Temple; don’t cook a kid in its mother’s milk” (Exodus 34:26). Since the first day for bringingBikkurim is on Shavuot the second half of that verse – referring to milk and meat – is the negative commandment corresponding to Shavuot day. Thus on Shavuot two meals are eaten, one of milk and one of meat.
Regardless of traditions, if you’re body can tolerate cow’s milk, check out some of these tasty recipes. There are many more on the Internet. Apple noodle kuggel (pudding): http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Apple-Noodle-Kugel-356031 Upside down honey cheesecake: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Upside-Down-Honey-Cheesecakes-237917 Cheese blintzes with blueberry sauce: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Cheese-Blintzes-with-Blueberry-Sauce-232828 And then there’s Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/joyofkosher/shavuot-recipes/ What about our gluten-free readers: http://glutenfreebay.blogspot.co.il/2007/05/reduced-fat-cheesy-baked-ziti-for.html