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    Shavuous Kashrus Questions WITH THE OU’S RABBI MOSHE ELEFANT

    Why do we eat dairy on Shavuos?
    The Rama on Orach Chaim 494:3
    quotes a widespread minhag to eat
    dairy foods on Shavuos. The Mishnah

    Berurah (ibid. s.k.12) proffers the fa-
    mous explanation for this custom: Bnei

    Yisroel, upon receiving the Torah on
    Shavuos, were unable to eat meat right
    after the Torah was given. There was

    no time to prepare and check shechi-
    tah knives, remove blood and cheilev

    (non- kosher fats) from meat, and kash-
    er utensils needed to cook and prepare

    hot meat. Thus, it was necessary on that
    first Shavuos to consume cold dairy
    foods. We therefore commemorate this
    event by also partaking of dairy dishes
    on Shavuos.

    The Rama himself offers another ratio-
    nale for eating dairy food on Shavuos:

    The Korban Shtei HaLechem is com-
    manded to be brought on Shavuos; we

    therefore eat both dairy and meat foods
    on Shavuos, as this will require us to
    have two different breads (because we
    cannot eat the same bread with dairy

    and meat foods); the two breads neces-
    sitated by serving dairy and meat dishes,

    served on the table, which symbolizes

    the mizbayach commemorate the Kor-
    ban Sh’tei HaLechem. (MB ibid s.k.14)

    There are some other, less-known ex-
    planations as to why we eat dairy foods

    on Shavuos:

    • Moshe Rabbeinu was taken out of
    the Nile on Shavuos and was thereafter

    brought to be nursed, and he refused to

    drink milk from non-Jewish women.

    • The gematria of chalav is 40, corre-
    sponding to the forty days that Moshe

    was on Har Sinai. • One of the names
    of Har Sinai is Gavnunim, similar to
    the word gevinah – cheese. • The Chok
    Yaakov (OC 494:9) quotes the Kol Bo (s.
    52) that the minhag is to eat both hon- ey and milk on Shavuos, as the Torah
    is compared to honey and milk (Shir
    HaShirim 4:11).
    The custom of eating dairy foods on
    Shavuos, however, remains cryptic

    and is not mentioned by many hala-
    chic sources, and that is why there are

    so many possible explanations. (Note
    that the Rama explains the basis for the
    custom with a partial conjecture, “and it
    seems to me that the reason is…”, rather
    than stating a definitive rationale, as this
    minhag is of unclear background.)
    The most common methods whereby
    people fulfill the custom to eat dairy
    foods on Shavuos are by having dairy
    Yom Tov meals or by

    serving dairy Mezo-
    nos foods after making

    Kiddush on Shavuos

    morning (and con-
    suming a regular Yom

    Tov seudah later). This

    latter method is sug-
    gested by the Darchei

    Teshuva (YD 89, s.k.
    19) as the ideal way to
    fulfill the minhag of
    eating dairy foods on

    Shavuos while partak-
    ing of a most proper

    Seudas Yom Tov. Each

    of these approaches re-
    quires a bit of halachic analysis.

    Is one allowed to
    partake in mezonos
    food after kiddush?
    There is a fundamental
    principle of ain Kiddush
    ‘ela bim’kom seudah –
    Kiddush may only be
    made at the site of the
    meal [1] . Regardless
    of the rationale for the
    axiom of ain Kiddush
    ‘ela bim’kom seudah, one who makes
    Kiddush without a meal (i.e. he does
    not eat a seudah after Kiddush, or he
    recites Kiddush in a location other than
    where he eats the meal) does not fulfill
    the mitzvah of Kiddush and must make
    Kiddush again when and where he eats.
    The Tur and Shulchan Aruch (ibid. s.
    5) quote the Geonim that one can fulfill
    the mitzvah of Kiddush without actually
    eating a full meal at the time and place
    that he makes Kiddush. Rather, posit
    the Geonim, a person can consume
    a mere kezayis of bread or even drink
    an additional revi’is of wine as his
    Kiddush-time “meal”, so that he fulfills
    the requirement of Kiddush bim’kom
    seudah. The Magen Avraham (ibid. s.k.
    11) and Aruch HaShulchan (ibid. s. 8)
    explain that, according to the Geonim,
    one can eat what we refer to as Mezonos
    foods after Kiddush and satisfy the rule
    of ain Kiddush ‘ela bim’kom seudah.
    This interpretation of the Geonim’s
    opinion has become widely accepted,
    and many poskim permit partaking
    of Mezonos foods after Kiddush but
    advise against satisfying the mitzvah by
    merely drinking an additional revi’is of
    wine. (See MB ibid. s.k. 25.)
    The overall position of the Geonim
    is one of dispute, as the simple
    interpretation of ain Kiddush’ela
    bim’kom seudah is that one must
    actually have his seudah – a full meal
    with bread – upon making Kiddush, and
    some therefore advise that one is best
    not relying on the Geonim’s approach
    [2] . However, the more prevalent
    practice is to rely on the Geonim’s view
    and make Kiddush followed by cake or
    other Mezonos foods. [3] If one follows
    common custom (the opinion of the
    Geonim), it would seem that he can

    satisfy the minhag of consuming dairy
    food on Shavuos by eating cheesecake
    after Kiddush on Shavuos morning.
    However, it is not so simple.
    The approach of the Geonim only
    postulates that Mezonos food eaten
    after Kiddush satisfies the requirement
    of Kiddush bim’kom seudah when the
    amount of Mezonos food is at least a
    kezayis. (See MB 273: 21) The problem is
    that many types of cheesecake have very
    little flour, and one does not typically
    consume a kezayis of the dough or
    flour part of a slice of such cheesecake
    in the requisite period of k’dei achilas
    p’ras, “the time it takes to eat a piece
    of bread” (which, according to Rav
    Moshe Feinstein zt”l, would be under
    3 minutes – Igros Moshe 4:41). Thus,
    cheesecake with minimal dough/flour
    content would not seem to qualify as
    the Mezonos food to eat after Kiddush.
    Additionally, even though the b’racha
    rishona for cake and pie is Mezonos,
    even when the majority of the cake
    or pie consists of filling or fruit rather
    than flour, there is an exception when
    the flour or dough part of these desserts
    serves merely to hold the filling or fruit
    in place and is not intended to provide
    flavor (OC 208:2). Some cheesecakes
    are virtually all cheese, and they have
    a paper-thin layer of tasteless dough
    which merely keeps the cheese in place.
    This situation would warrant reciting a
    Shehakol and would likely not enable
    one to consume the cheesecake directly
    after Kiddush. (See OC 208:9 and MB
    ibid. s.k.45.)
    Should one wish to have cheesecake after
    morning Kiddush,the solution would be
    to either purchase a cheesecake that has
    sufficient dough/flour (a kezayis worth
    that will be consumed within the shiur
    of k’dei achilas p’ras), or to also eat a
    kezayis of another type of Mezonos food
    (e.g. cookies, pastry or cake), making
    sure to have a kezayis of the Mezonos
    food in a period of k’dei achilas p’ras, as
    above. In case one wishes to consume a
    Shehakol cheesecake, he should first eat
    a kezayis of Mezonos item right after
    Kiddush prior to eating the Shehakol