Milk and the Message of Shavuot

One of the most beloved customs of Shavuot is eating dairy foods. Many homes boast of an impressive spread of dairy delicacies and cheese cakes on the first day meal of the holiday. But, besides the delectable pleasures, there must be a primary spiritual component influencing the attention to the cheesecakes.


From the many reasons that I read, I would like to share one that has a profound message for us. Before Matan Torah (the Torah was given) several mitzvot had already been given to the Jewish people, for example, the laws of Shabbat had been given at a place called Marah. What was accomplished at Mount Sinai? A duplication? No. When the Torah was given, it nullified the mitzvot that had been taught previously. We give a brit milah to our sons not because Avraham Avinu made a brit for Yitzchak, but because we were commanded to do so when the Torah was given on Mount Sinai. The laws given at Matan Torah took precedence over any other previous instruction. Parenthetically, it does not mean that the other commandments do not mean anything to us, just because Matan Torah over rides them. There is always an eternal lesson in every letter and detail of the Torah. In the case of the food that was served on the day that the Torah was given, any meat was rendered non-kosher because it did not conform to the Kashrut requirements, and there weren’t any Shochtim (ritual slaughterers) to prepare fresh meat for consumption. The only choice was to eat dairy.


What happened at Matan Torah that brought such a dramatic change? The Giving of the Torah was a pivotal day in the history of the Jewish people. The mitzvot that were given at Har Sinai were different than those given prior. How?   Because after Matan Torah, when a physical object would be used to perform a mitzvah, it would become infused with spirituality. That did not happen before. Enjoy your cheesecakes!



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