Today, we will discuss the minhag of eating milchigs on Shavuos.
Although there are a few reasons brought for the minhag, we will
discuss the reason brought by the Rema in Siman 494, and its
The Rema writes that many have the minhag to eat milchigs on Shavuos.
He explains that there was a mitzvah to bring a special korban on
Shavuos, and to bring with it shtei halechem, two breads. In the same
way that we have a zeicher at the seder to the two korbanos brought on
Pesach, we make a zeicher to the korban of Shavuos as well. If one
will ask that we always have two breads on Shabbos and Yom Tov, due to
the halacha of lechem mishneh, the answer is that even though we make
hamotzi on two breads, we do not necessarily use both of them. On
Shavuos, we make sure one eats from both of them. We do this by based on the following halacha. The halacha is that bread used during a milchig meal cannot be used for a fleishig meal. Thus, if one begins their meal with milchigs, and switches in the
middle to fleishigs, they will be forced to eat from both breads.
We see from the Rema that he holds one can start a meal with milchigs
and switch to fleishigs in the middle of the meal. However, in Yoreh
Deah Siman 89, the Shach quotes the Zohar that one cannot eat
milchigs and fleishigs in the same meal, but should say a bracha
achrona in between. The Magen Avraham points out that the Rema is not
following the Zohar, but rather following the implication of the
Gemara which does not make any mention of this issue. Beginning with
fleishigs and then switching to milchigs (even after waiting) is a
problem, even according to the Gemara, and one must say a bracha
achrona in between, even if many hours have passed.
Some poskim hold that since eating milchigs and then fleishigs in the
same meal is a machlokes, one should only follow the Rema on Shavuos,
but should follow the Zohar at all other times. The Shelah holds that
one should not follow the Rema even on Shavuos, but the minhag is not
to follow the Shelah.
It comes out that one should not just make Kiddush on milchigs (i.e., to
only eat milchigs which are mezonos and then wash and have a fleishigs
meal), but rather start the actual meal with milchigs and then change to fleishigs, because they are missing out on fulfilling the minhag properly as recorded by the Rema.
In order to switch from milchigs to fleishigs in the middle of a meal,
one must be mindful of a few things:
- One must change the tablecloth
- One must change the bread
- If the bread was kept off the table during the milchig part
of the meal, they do not need to change it, but then they are not
fulfilling the minhag according to the Rema.
- One must wash their hands (for cleanliness, not for netillas yadayim).
- If one ate with a fork, there are poskim who hold one does
not need to wash their hands.
- One does not need to use soap.
- One must perform kinuach v’hadacha, cleaning out their mouth.
Kinuach v’hadacha is accomplished by chewing something, such as bread,
which will remove any residue from the mouth, and drinking something.
- Mouthwash or brushing teeth is not necessary
- Foods which get stuck in the teeth cannot be used for kinuach
v’hadacha. The Gemara lists dates, raw flour and fresh green
vegetables as examples of foods which do not perform kinuach
- Kinuach v’hadacha can be performed either order.
- One must wait longer for hard cheese. There is a question
regarding waiting for soft cheese.
- The Zohar holds one should wait one hour between milchigs and
fleishigs. Some have the minhag to wait 30 minutes, but the source of
this minhag is not clear. It appears that it was learned from the
Zohar, but the Zohar’s language is shaita chada, which implies waiting
a full hour, not just a unit of time (i.e., 30 minutes). However, the
minhag appears to be lenient to wait 30 minutes.
In conclusion, if a person starts their meal with milchigs and pauses
for 30 minutes between the milchigs and fleishigs (e.g, clean up,
divrei torah, zemiros, etc.), they have fulfilled the minhag of
waiting as per the Zohar, in addition to fulfilling the minhag of
eating milchigs on Shavuos as per the Rema.
It is interesting that the minhag as recorded by the Rema is not as
well-known as the minhag of the Shelah, even though the Rema is the
primary recorder of minhagei Ashkenaz.