Shavuot Halachot Archives:Dairy, Electricity, Cheese

There is a well-known custom to eat dairy foods on Shavuot. The Rama (Orah Haim 494:3) explains that the source of this custom is in commemoration of the Shtei HaLehem, the two loaves of bread that were specifically offered on Shavuot in the times of the Temple. Just as we have two cooked food on Passover to symbolize the Korban Pesah and the Korban Hagiga, so too on Shavuot we should have a dairy meal and a meat meal to commemorate the two loaves of bread. The Magen Avraham explains that we eat dairy foods because when Bnei Israel received the Torah and learned all the laws of Kashrut, slaughtering and of koshering utensils, they needed to time to prepare meat in a Kosher fashion and in the meantime they could only consume dairy foods. Yet another explanation is that Torah, which we received on Shavuot is compared to milk as it written in: “Devash veHalav Tahat Leshonech” (Shir HaShirim 4:11). 
Rabbi Yosef Benaim (Noheg BeHochma, pg. 202) explains that this was not a common practice in Morocco but that there were people who ate dairy foods in Morocco and other Sephardic lands. 

A culinary custom on Shavuot that was common in Morocco, however, was eating Matzah. A special dish known in Arabic as Hrabel was made of Matzah meal, sugar and mint. The HIDA (Lev David ch. 31) references the Tola’at Yaakov, who says that Shavuot is likened to Olam Haba (the World to Come) where the body and soul join in a heavenly experience. On Shavuot there was a bread offering, which is symbolic of the physical body, as well as a Minha offering, consisting of unleavened Matzah, which symbolizes the soul. Thus, on Shavuot one eats Matzah to complement the bread offering and to symbolically join the physical and the spiritual worlds.  The HIDA gives another reason based on the Zohar that in Egypt, Matzah was the bread of affliction when we were slaves to Pharaoh. On Shavuot, when we accepted Hashem’s Torah, we eat Matzah to symbolize that we are still servants, but to Hashem. 

Summary: One may partake of dairy foods on Shavuot but one should also eat meat in honor of Yom Tov. There is a special custom to eat Matzah on Shavuot.