Rabbi Tzvi Hirsch Haber

Rabbi, Los Angeles, CA

Eating Dairy on Shavous (or Who Moved my Cheesecake)

by | May 26, 2009 | 2 comments

Eating Dairy on Shavous

The Rema cites a minhag to eat a Milchig meal on the first day of Shavous. There are many reasons given for this custom, The Rema himself suggests (as explained by the Mishna Berura) that just as on Pesach we have two foods to remember the Korbanos brought on Pesach so too on Shavous in remembrance of the two loaves that were brought on Shavous we have a dairy meal immediately followed by a meat meal, each requiring its own loaf of bread.

It would seem from the Rema that:

  1. Having cheesecake at Kiddush isn’t good enough, it has to be a meal containing bread
  2. One should not have a Dairy meal in lieu of a meat meal; rather there should be an additional dairy meal.


Aside from the Rema’s reasoning, this would seem so because one should have meat at all the meals on Yom Tov, including Shavous.

The Magen Avraham rules that one doesn’t need to say Birkas Hamazon between the milk and the meat, and can have them in one meal, but should change the tablecloth or placemats and wipe and rinse his mouth. Indeed, it is problematic to say Birkas Hamazon only in order to have meat. (YD 89 Rema).

The opinion of the Zohar as quoted by the Beis Yosef is that one should never have meat and milk in the same meal, thereby placing one in a difficult situation. He can’t bentsh and make it a separate meal just in order to have meat, but he can’t have milk and meat in the same meal. The Darkei Teshuva therefore recommends having milchig without bread at Kiddush, waiting an hour and then washing for bread. This would work according to all the other reasons to have Dairy, but not according to the Rema who requires bread.

The Mishna Berura paskens like the Magen Avrohom that one may have the milk and then the meat in the same meal. This would definitely satisfy the Rema. The Pri Migadim (Ibid) says that according to those who require a separate meal in accordance with the Zohar, On Shavous one would be permitted to say Birkas Hamazon in order to eat dairy.

If he had ‘hard cheese’ then he would have to say Birkas Hamazon and wait six hours. (six hours for the purpose of this article is whatever one normally waits between meat and dairy). There are differing definitions as to what hard cheese is; Parmesan is a definite suspect.

UPDATE for more on cheese in halacha and what constitutes hard cheese, there is an excellent article on Hirhurim on the topic from Rabbi Gordimer of the OU

The Kol Bo quotes a minhag to have the Dairy meal in the afternoon and that one may be lenient about the waiting period after meat. The conclusion of the later Poskim is not to rely on this.  (See the Noam Elimelech, Mishpatim on Lo Sevashel gedi bchalev imo).

Indeed, the Mishna Berura, quoting the Pri Megadim writes that one should be careful on Shavous to keep all the laws of mixing milk and meat as elucidated in Yoreh Deah, and not to be ‘yotze sechara bhefsedah’, supplant  the gain (of eating dairy) with the loss (of not keeping the Halacha properly).

As noted, the Rema writes the custom is only applicable on the first day of Shavous. This is indeed the common minhag, although the Kaf Hachaim brings an opinion that it applies to the second day as well.

Obviously, many have differing minhagim as to when to eat dairy, and I am not advocating switching Minhagim.

You can, of course, order your cheesecakes in Israel from Your Man In Jerusalem

By Rabbi Tzvi Hirsch Haber

Rabbi Tzvi Hirsch Haber is sought after by all who know him for his Halachic and practical advice. His keen ability to put complicated matters into a digestible perspective coupled with his ability to get the facts, make him the perfect blogger to help us all “Do It Right”.


  1. Mark Frankel

    “The Mishna Berura paskens like the Magen Avrohom that one may have the milk and then the meat in the same meal. This would definitely satisfy the Rema.”

    How does this satisfy the Rema? The Rema requires 2 meals with 2 breads and in this scenario there is only one.

  2. TH

    The halacha is that one can’t use the same loaf of bread for a milk meal and a meat meal. I alluded to that, but not clearly enough. I apologize. It seems from the Mishna Berura that the Rema would prefer the two breads eaten as closely together as possible.
    Interestingly, the MB brings an opinion that the bread for the dairy meal should be baked with butter so that it cannot be used for the meat meal under any circumstances. The issue of baking dairy bread is for a different post.
    Thanks for your comments, Good Yom Tov


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