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Sunday, June 12, 2005


I know I put a link in my last post to a brief explanation of Shavuot... but reading through what is there this morning I realized that it is pretty dry, and doesn't really give the uninitiated any of the traditions associated with the holiday.  And since it starts at sundown this evening... I figured I'd share a bit more.

One of the nice customs associated with Shavuot is the eating of yummy dairy treats; with blintzes and cheese cake being the favorites.  This is because the Torah is compared to milk in The Song of Songs:  “Sweetness drops/From your lips, O bride; Honey and milk / Are under your tongue.”... and also the numerical value of the Hebrew word for Milk is 40 - the number of days Moses spent on Mount Sinai (feel free to jump in with anything I may have missed).

I happen to work for one of the largest defense/aerospace companies in Israel.  One would expect that such a place would be all work and no play (at least when it comes to traditional stuff).  But before the we left for the long Shavuot holiday weekend, every single employee was presented with a gift basket containing a nice selection of dairy stuff for the Shavuot holiday.  I unwrapped the cellophane so that you could see what was inside (as well as the note):
[From L to R: Cottage cheese, a feta-like goat cheese in salt brine, Goat milk yogurt, Bulgarian cheese (also from goat milk), which cheese (like a runny cream cheese), and in the middle, some sliced yellow cheese.  I have the feeling most of the products were selected because of their blue and white packaging.  But what really got me giggling was that whoever designed the note (which simply says happy Shavuot from management and the workers union) had no idea they had used a Xmas motif!]

I am off now to make my famous chocolate cheese cake with the crumbly chocolate crust and real whipped cream topping!  In general Zahava is the baker of the house... but this is one of the things that IMHO I do well.

I'll see everyone in a day or two.

Posted by David Bogner on June 12, 2005 | Permalink


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Chag sameach, David.

Posted by: Sarah | Jun 12, 2005 11:01:02 AM

partaking of diary treats is what we do when we read your blog! (and not something we'd do on Shavuot!)
Dairy treats however are the province of Shavuot.

Posted by: David Gerstman | Jun 12, 2005 1:18:21 PM

Chag Sameach. There is also the part of Shavuot related to the Receiving the Laws of Cheesecake. Chocolate cheesecake, what a holiday!

Posted by: AbbaGav | Jun 12, 2005 1:34:26 PM

Sarah... Happy Holiday to you as well!

David Gerstman... Very nice... way to make fun of the dyslexic guy! :-) Thanks for pointing it out, though. I took the liberty of making the correction.

AbbaGav... Thanks... I agree with all your 'commandments' (although I'll admit I have never heard of the dental floss idea!). The recipe sounds yummy too.

Posted by: David | Jun 12, 2005 1:59:08 PM

I appreciate the way you explain these things! So many Jewish writers use terms and teminology that make the blog indecipherably arcane to non-Jews. Tantalizing, but incomprehensible. I'm finding the measuring of time by ritual, rite, and festival quite fascinating.

Hebrew words have "numerical value"?

Posted by: Mary | Jun 12, 2005 5:11:53 PM

Mary... I explain things the way I do because I don't assume everone who comes here is familiar with the terminology. As to the numbers... each letter in the Hebrew alphabet has a numerical value. Because of this, each Hebrew word ends up with a numerical value based on the sum of it's letter's values. Kabbalists (and others) have attributed great meaning to these word values and have been able to glean tremendous hidden understanding from the holy texts using these values as a guide.

Posted by: David | Jun 12, 2005 6:44:04 PM

Chag sameach

Posted by: Jack | Jun 12, 2005 7:26:09 PM

I swear a holiday that revolves around dairy is something only the Jews could have thought up--create a holiday that makes your people suffer.

As someone with Eastern European heritage, I have the lactose-intolerance of my people.

Leave it up to the rest of my people to create something that would make me absolutely miserable

Posted by: beth | Jun 12, 2005 8:50:05 PM

Jack... You too.

Beth... One of the wonderful things about the whole Jewish thing is that one door doesn't close without another opening! For instance, yes, Shavuot is a lactose intolerant person's nightmare. But if you go to a kosher meat restaurant, you can eat anything on the desert menu without worry of it containing dairy products!!! This revelation was so earth shattering that one of my non-Jewish colleagues at the company where I worked in New York begged me for a list of kosher meat places so she could finally enjoy a full meal without ending up in the fetal position. I sent her where I'm about to send you: http://shamash.org/kosher/ Select the LA metro area from the pull down list... and then select 'Meat' from the category pull down menu. Enjoy! By the way, one of my favorites is a place on Pico called 'Pats' .

Posted by: David | Jun 13, 2005 11:48:27 PM

Happy Shavuot! I didn't stay up all night studying Gamorah (spelling?) - I would never study all night for anything in the world - but I did eat dairy food these days. I love dairy food, especially the various cheeses, and the meat just doesn't taste right in this heat. Amazingly, unlike most of my family, I'm actually lactose-tolerant and enjoying every moment of it. The comparison of Torah to milk is interesting, especially if one thinks about the deeper symbolism. The very idea of milk coupled with honey, honey being sweet, while milk is nurturing and is associated with mothering, comfort, etc. That makes an interesting implication about Torah and what it's role is or should be, in our lives.

Posted by: Irina | Jun 14, 2005 4:44:42 AM

Pats is outstanding. I love it.

Posted by: Jack | Jun 14, 2005 5:08:43 AM

The land Milk, bee honey and jam..... I'm yet to try cheese cake though!(I've never!!)

Posted by: kakarizz | Jun 14, 2005 10:57:03 AM

Hmmm...the desert menu...would that be cactus and sand pie, garnished with tumbleweed?

Posted by: savtadotty | Jun 15, 2005 1:54:31 AM

Hmmm.... I'm not sure what's going on, but I'm having pangs for Photo Friday, and it's only Tuesday night. It's never happenned this early before. Better take another red pill and go to bed.

You're gonna take away my "Post" button and only let me preview if I don't get my s#$& together.

Posted by: Doctor Bean | Jun 15, 2005 9:19:29 AM

You're gonna take away my "Post" button and only let me preview if I don't get my s#$& together.

Careful, too much Gloria Allred and look what happens. ;)

Posted by: Jack | Jun 15, 2005 9:24:01 AM

Chocolate cheesecake??? Sounds like heaven on earth...are you sending us all samples? Hope you had a chag sameach.

Posted by: Essie | Jun 15, 2005 8:09:54 PM

Irina... If you go into some of the cafes here you will see a carafe of natural yogurt in the cooler with a small cup of honey used as the stopper in the top. When you order this you pour the honey into the yogurt... stir...and then die and go directly to heaven. :-)

Jack... I'm as creature of habit. I once had a great meal at Pat's and ever since I go back there each time I'm in LA. I'm sure I'm missing out on a lot of good places, but I'm loyal that way.

Kakarizz... Your education about Judaism won't be complete until you seek out a decent piece of cheesecake. Of course everyone has their own idea of what a perfect cheesecake tastes like so there remains plenty to argue about. :-)

SavtaDotty... Huh? Did I miss something?

Doctor Bean... I don't understand it either since I even gave you an extra picture on Sunday! I'll have to call in a specialist.

Jack... Again... huh? Did I miss something. I googled her and came up with a partner in some law firm.

Essie... I can't even send you an e-mail (because of the nospam one you use)... so how am I suppose to get you a slice of cheesecake?

Posted by: David | Jun 15, 2005 8:51:32 PM

I could live on dairy food alone!

Posted by: Irina | Jun 16, 2005 4:54:52 AM

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