Moshe-Mordechai van Zuiden
Psychology, Medicine, Science, Politics, Oppression, Integrity, Philosophy, Jews -- For those who like their news and truths frank and sharp

25 reasons why Jews also eat dairy dishes on Jewish Pentecost

I’m a vegan so I eat neither dairy nor meaty dishes. Yet, I see nothing wrong with learning about our Holy Traditions, especially if learning could take the place of an impossibility to be doing.

Also, I’m not so sure that at the present being a vegan would be so good for most people, so we’d better learn about this to pass it on to our students and the next generation.

However, it seems an excellent idea for the average carnivore to starkly reduce consuming animal produce. Most people eat much more meat and milk produce than would be good for their: health, wealth, moral conscience, the environment, solving world starvation, etc.

Jews traditionally eat meat at Festivals (if you don’t like meat, you’ll eat something you do like). But on (the first day of) Jewish Pentecost we consume first some dish containing milk, before continuing with the Festival meat. (Eating dairy after meat in one meal is forbidden by Jewish Law.)

Why dairy dishes? Here are 25 reasons that I found (some of them inside my head):

  1. We did not have animals slaughtered in accordance with our new Jewish Law (see also 2, 3, 4, 5), and we got the Torah on Shabbat, so we had no meat to eat, so we had dairy meals (at least in the daytime). We also did not know how to slaughter animals as that is part of the Oral Torah. This kind-of resembles us leaving Egypt. Then we had to discontinue the old bread from before; now we needed to terminate our previous meat. We only left Egypt to receive the Torah, so there is a strong connection between the two Festivals (see also 9, 17, 20). Passover Night and Pentecost are like similar bookend Festivals with 50 Intermediate Days between them (see also 20).
  2. All our meat utensils from unauthorized meat products first had to be made kosher, so we could not eat from the old meaty pots, dishes or cutlery (see also 1, 3, 4, 5).
  3. Milk does not need preparation (slaughtering, salting meat, making utensils kosher – see also 1, 2, 4, 5) to be allowed – only non-dairy pots. The only non-kosher milk there, would have been milk milked on Shabbat, but we were already many weeks obligated to keep Shabbat, ever since the encampment at the Bitter Waters.
  4. Until we heard Jewish Law, we assumed that milk was forbidden for human consumption, because maybe it should be considered a (liquid) limb taken from a still alive animal – which would be forbidden to all people, not just Jews. (That this was not a problem was known to Abraham, who fed his three guests meat and dairy (see also 14). This knowledge may have been lost until we got it back in Genesis.) So how did we get milk that Shabbat, since milking is forbidden on the Day of Rest? We already had it from before Shabbat, to feed young animals. So when the old meat became forbidden (see also 1, 2, 3, 5), the old milk became allowed.
  5. Yet, didn’t we in the desert just eat the providential manna and drink the miraculous spring water (and occasionally raw quail)? Maybe our main staple was manna, but we could have added meat for Shabbat and the Festivals. And when we couldn’t eat meat on that first Pentecost (see also 1, 2, 3, 4), we might have supplemented dairy instead. (The point is not to reconstruct what would have happened at Sinai, since the Torah is not a police or historic report. Rather it’s a Guide to a moral life. We only try to pin our understanding and custom of eating dairy on Scripture’s accounts.)
  6. Torah is to us like milk to a baby (see also 7, 9). The baby never says: milk again, today? Every time it tastes new and great; such is learning Torah.
  7. Just like milk may suffice all our bodily nutritional requirements (as we see in those fast-growing babies – see also 6, 9), the Torah gives all the necessary spiritual nourishment for the human soul.
  8. After receiving the Torah we were like newborns. Our beginners’ Torah learning equals their beginners’ food: milk.
  9. Just like on the first Night of Passover (see also 1, 17, 20) the children stand (sit) at the center of our attention, here too the day is catered to the food preference of the young ones (see also 6, 7).
  10. Studying or unconditional acceptance of  Torah is poetically compared to honey (see also 16, 18) plus milk under our tongue. Especially the study of the esoteric aspect of the Torah, which we should keep to ourselves (not on our tongue).
  11. He who devotes himself to the study of the Law will be greeted in the Future World with sixty cups of milk, besides many other delicious beverages. From this we see that milk was regarded a delicacy and a drink of prominence. At Sinai we became a prominent People of Priests. (The opposite we find in 23 and 24.)
  12. To honor Moses, who at three months old was picked up from the Nile at the Sixth of Sivan, the date for the giving of the Torah, 80 years later, and who refused to drink mother milk from any non-Jewish wet nurse – so that he ended up being nursed by his own mother.
  13. Each one of the 365 days of the year corresponds to a specific one of the Torah’s 365 Prohibitions. The first day of Pentecost we must bring our first fruits (see also 15, 16) to the Temple and the second half of the verse (in Exodus) forbids cooking a kid in milk. Precisely therefore, we consume milk too, to show that we do take care not to mix dairy and meaty (see also 14, 17).
  14. We demonstrate that we are careful not to mix meat and milk stuff (see also 13, 17), unlike the three Angels who ate at Abraham’s table and who were not (see also 4). When the Angels later complained to G-d against Humans receiving the Torah, Moses replied: You are not careful separating meat and milk, so the Torah is not for you to keep. (Maybe Abraham served them plant-based vegan (coconut, almond, soy) milk or milk from a non-kosher animal and (vegetable oil, avocado) butter, which we can serve Gentiles mixed with meat. Then reasons 4 and 14 do not work.)
  15. Another Torah verse (in Numbers) mentioning the bringing of the first fruits (see also 13, 16), also commands us the offering of a sacrifice that is: New, To-G-d, On-your-Festival-of-weeks. The single acrostic of the Hebrew for New, To and On spells chalav (see also 18, 19) – milk.
  16. Yet another Torah verse (in Deuteronomy) that mentions the first fruits (see also 13, 15), describes the Holy Land as flowing with milk and [date] honey (see also 10, 18).
  17. Just like on Passover (see also 1, 9, 20) when we eat at least two cooked dishes to commemorate the two Sacrifices (Pesach and Festival), so here too we eat at least two separate dishes, now to commemorate the two loafs of fine flour (see also 18) brought as Offering on Pentecost. Some say to have separate breads for each part of the meal (an extra precaution for not mixing anything from the meaty and the dairy part of the meal – see also 13, 14), bringing the concept of two loafs even closer to our table – although every Festival we start the meal with two loaves anyway, as on Shabbat.
  18. Tradition tells us that the Torah, which we received at Mount Sinai, contains 613 Commandments, (almost) exactly the numerical value (see also 19, 20, 22) of the Hebrew words honey (see also 10, 16), milk (see also 15, 19) and fine flour (see also 17) together.
  19. The numerical value (see also 18, 20, 22) of the Hebrew word for milk, chalav (see also 15, 18), is 40. Forty days Moses spent on Mount Sinai receiving instruction in the entire Torah. Later he prayed there for another 40 days for forgiveness for the Golden Calf. For a third time for 40 days he was up there before returning with a new set of Stone Tablets. Also, there were 40 generations from Moses who recorded the Written Torah, until the generation of Ravina and Rav Ashi who arranged and edited the Masterwork of the Oral Torah, the Babylonian Talmud. The Talmud begins with the letter Mem – numerical value 40 – and ends with Mem as well, further alluding to the fact that the Written Torah (here spoken by G-d) and the Oral Torah (now written down) form one body of text. (“You can’t have one without the o-o-o-other.”)
  20. The numerical value (see also 18, 19, 22) of the Hebrew word for dairy, chalavi is 50. We went from Passover to Pentecost in 50 days (see also 1, 9, 17), to the 50th, the highest possible Gate of Knowledge and Purity (see also 1).
  21. Maybe at this highest moral level (see 20), we returned to the ethical plane of Adam and Eve before the Original Sin, not killing animals for food. And then later, the not eating meat on Pentecost was remembered by a custom to consume dairy?
  22. Mount Sinai is also called the Gavnunim Mount – with majestic peaks. Gavnunim looks like the Hebrew word for cheese, gevina. The Mountain was pure as white goat cheese. Further, the numerical value (see also 18, 19, 20) of gevina is 70, corresponding to the (at least) 70 ways everything in the Torah can be understood.
  23. G-d chose Mount Sinai precisely because it was not so tall to teach that Torah knowledge is like water, streaming towards someone humble and running away from someone haughty. A dairy meal is also more modest, which is appropriate for the day that we received the Torah. (The opposite we find in 11.)
  24. Milk products are kept in simple clay and glass vessels and they spoil when kept in silver and gold vessels. So, too, the Torah is found among poor Jews who are lowly and modest, not [so much] among the rich and haughty. (The opposite we find in 11.)
  25. Perhaps, we also have dairy dishes because Pentecost falls in the calving season when there is an abundance of milk. Milk was available principally in spring and summer, once calves were weaned and when fresh fodder was plentiful.

There are many more traditional Jewish Pentecost dishes: special breads, honey or other sweet stuff, Seven Species, flower petals.

Have a delightful Festival!

About the Author
MM is a prolific and creative writer and thinker, previously a daily blog contributor to the TOI. He often makes his readers laugh, mad, or assume he's nuts—close to perfect blogging. He's proud that his analytical short comments are removed both from left-wing and right-wing news sites. None of his content is generated by the new bore on the block, AI. * As a frontier thinker, he sees things many don't yet. He's half a prophet. Half. Let's not exaggerate. Or not at all because he doesn't claim G^d talks to him. He gives him good ideas—that's all. MM doesn't believe that people observe and think in a vacuum. He, therefore, wanted a broad bio that readers interested can track a bit what (lack of) backgrounds, experiences, and educations contribute to his visions. * This year, he will prioritize getting his unpublished books published rather than just blog posts. Next year, he hopes to focus on activism against human extinction. To find less-recent posts on a subject XXX among his over 2000 archived ones, go to the right-top corner of a Times of Israel page, click on the search icon and search "zuiden, XXX". One can find a second, wilder blog, to which one may subscribe too, here: or by clicking on the globe icon next to his picture on top. * Like most of his readers, he believes in being friendly, respectful, and loyal. However, if you think those are his absolute top priorities, you might end up disappointed. His first loyalty is to the truth. He will try to stay within the limits of democratic and Jewish law, but he won't lie to support opinions or people when don't deserve that. (Yet, we all make honest mistakes, which is just fine and does not justify losing support.) He admits that he sometimes exaggerates to make a point, which could have him come across as nasty, while in actuality, he's quite a lovely person to interact with. He holds - how Dutch - that a strong opinion doesn't imply intolerance of other views. * Sometimes he's misunderstood because his wide and diverse field of vision seldomly fits any specialist's box. But that's exactly what some love about him. He has written a lot about Psychology (including Sexuality and Abuse), Medicine (including physical immortality), Science (including basic statistics), Politics (Israel, the US, and the Netherlands, Activism - more than leftwing or rightwing, he hopes to highlight reality), Oppression and Liberation (intersectionally, for young people, the elderly, non-Whites, women, workers, Jews, LGBTQIA+, foreigners and anyone else who's dehumanized or exploited), Integrity, Philosophy, Jews (Judaism, Zionism, Holocaust and Jewish Liberation), the Climate Crisis, Ecology and Veganism, Affairs from the news, or the Torah Portion of the Week, or new insights that suddenly befell him. * Chronologically, his most influential teachers are his parents, Nico (natan) van Zuiden and Betty (beisye) Nieweg, Wim Kan, Mozart, Harvey Jackins, Marshal Rosenberg, Reb Shlomo Carlebach, and, lehavdil bein chayim lechayim, Rabbi Dr. Natan Lopes Cardozo, Rav Zev Leff, and Rav Meir Lubin. This short list doesn't mean to disrespect others who taught him a lot or a little. One of his rabbis calls him Mr. Innovation [Ish haChidushim]. Yet, his originalities seem to root deeply in traditional Judaism, though they may grow in unexpected directions. In fact, he claims he's modernizing nothing. Rather, mainly basing himself on the basic Hebrew Torah text, he tries to rediscover classical Jewish thought almost lost in thousands of years of stifling Gentile domination and Jewish assimilation. (He pleads for a close reading of the Torah instead of going by rough assumptions of what it would probably mean and before fleeing to Commentaries.) This, in all aspects of life, but prominently in the areas of Free Will, Activism, Homosexuality for men, and Redemption. * He hopes that his words will inspire and inform, and disturb the comfortable and comfort the disturbed. He aims to bring a fresh perspective rather than harp on the obvious and familiar. When he can, he loves to write encyclopedic overviews. He doesn't expect his readers to agree. Rather, original minds should be disputed. In short, his main political positions are among others: anti-Trumpism, for Zionism, Intersectionality, non-violence, anti those who abuse democratic liberties, anti the fake ME peace process, for original-Orthodoxy, pro-Science, pro-Free Will, anti-blaming-the-victim, and for down-to-earth, classical optimism, and happiness. Read his blog on how he attempts to bridge any tensions between those ideas or fields. * He is a fetal survivor of the pharmaceutical industry (, born in 1953 to his parents who were Dutch-Jewish Holocaust survivors who met in the largest concentration camp in the Netherlands, Westerbork. He grew up a humble listener. It took him decades to become a speaker too, and decades more to admit to being a genius. But his humility was his to keep. And so was his honesty. Bullies and con artists almost instantaneously envy and hate him. He hopes to bring new things and not just preach to the choir. * He holds a BA in medicine (University of Amsterdam) – is half a doctor. He practices Re-evaluation Co-counseling since 1977, is not an official teacher anymore, and became a friendly, powerful therapist. He became a social activist, became religious, made Aliyah, and raised three wonderful kids. Previously, for decades, he was known to the Jerusalem Post readers as a frequent letter writer. For a couple of years, he was active in hasbara to the Dutch-speaking public. He wrote an unpublished tome about Jewish Free Will. He's a strict vegan since 2008. He's an Orthodox Jew but not a rabbi. * His writing has been made possible by an allowance for second-generation Holocaust survivors from the Netherlands. It has been his dream since he was 38 to try to make a difference by teaching through writing. He had three times 9-out-of-10 for Dutch at his high school finals but is spending his days communicating in English and Hebrew - how ironic. G-d must have a fine sense of humor. In case you wonder - yes, he is a bit dyslectic. If you're a native English speaker and wonder why you should read from people whose English is only their second language, consider the advantage of having an original peek outside of your cultural bubble. * To send any personal reaction to him, scroll to the top of the blog post and click Contact Me. * His newest books you may find here:
Related Topics
Related Posts