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Shavuot

Shavuot

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Because just as the holiday has changed over the millenniums, so have the culinary customs.

Centuries after the destruction of the Temple, exiled to foreign shores, the scholars of the Talmud infused the holiday with new meaning; the ancient harvest festival, they explained, coincided with a "spiritual harvest" -- namely, the date the Torah was revealed to Moses on Mt.

Sinai.

To prepare for this blessed event, legend has it that the children of Israel ate only dairy products to purify themselves, and in Hebrew numerology, or gematria, the word for milk (halav) equals 40 -- the same number of days Moses spent on Mt.

Sinai as he waited to receive the laws.

This was incentive enough to have dairy products evolve as an integral part in the holiday's fare.

Nature itself, though, provides another explanation.

Like the spring holidays of ancient Canaan and Rome, Shavuot occurs in the season when animals grazing in the lush pastures green from winter rains produce an abundance of milk; cheese-making, too, was part of spring harvest festivals around the world.



http://www.latimes.com/features/food/la-fo-shavuot27-2009may27,0,478385.story
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