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Friday, June 10, 2011

Why I Don't eat Dairy on Shavuot

There is a Jewish tradition to eat a dairy only meal during the holiday of Shavuot. This tradition comes out of Exodus 23:19, "You are to bring the best first fruits of your land into the house of ADONAI your God. You are not to boil a young animal in its mother’s milk." In discussing Shavuot and this verse, Rabbi Hayim Halevy Donin in his book, To be a Jew writes:

“Some see it as…emphasizing, on this festival which marks the giving of the Torah, the interdependence and unity of the Written and Oral Torah. For the very same verses that speak of bringing ‘the choicest first fruits of the land unto the house of the Lord your God’ in celebration of Shavuot also stress that, ‘You must not boil a kid in its mother's milk’ (Ex. 23:19, 34:6). On the basis of the latter part of these verses, the Oral Torah based its prohibition of eating meat and milk together. Hence, a separate dairy meal is deliberately eaten to emphasize the total unity of the verse and the authenticity of the Oral Torah." (Pg. 240-241)

This is why I do not eat a dairy only meal during Shavuot. As a Messianic Jew I do not believe in the "authenticity of the Oral Torah." For me if the Orthodox are "deliberately" doing anything to show the "authenticity of the Oral Torah" then it is my responsibility as a follower of Yeshua to make sure that my actions to do not conflict with my Chief Rabbi, Yeshua HaMashiach.

The Oral Torah is not bad. The Oral Torah is not evil. The Oral Torah should not be entirely thrown away. But, the Oral Torah was not given at Mt. Sinai. So, when the Oral Torah makes "laws" that God never made, then we should re-examine the intent behind these man-made laws and decide if our Messiah would follow them or not. Yeshua followed many "traditions" but, He also condemned leaders when they were treating man-made laws as if they were from God. And in doing so were lifting up the laws of men rather than the Written Torah that God gave at Mt. Sinai.

Mark 7 gives us an excellent example of this. The Pharisees in Mark 7:5 say to Yeshua, “Why don’t your talmidim live in accordance with the Tradition of the Elders, but instead eat with ritually unclean hands?” Yeshua answers in verses 8-9, “You depart from God’s command and hold onto human tradition. He said to them, “you have made a fine art of departing from God’s command in order to keep your tradition!” For these particular Pharisees the issue here is not whether food was kosher or not. The issue was if the disciples did not wash their hands "in accordance with the tradition of the Elders" then the kosher food they were eating was no longer kosher. The washing of hands is not commanded by God in the Written Torah. It is "commanded" in the Oral Torah and Yeshua clearly condemns these men for trusting in their own laws rather than what God actually commands in the Written Torah.

This is the same reason why I mix milk and meat on a regular basis. I have never "boiled a kid in its mother's milk." And I never intend to, mostly because that would be a weird thing to do. But the mixing of milk and meat is not boiling a kid in its mother’s milk. I recognize that I frustrate many of my Jewish brothers and sisters (and that many do not consider me a brother or a Jew). But, my identity is found in how the God of Israel views me not how anyone on this planet views me. I am a Jew because God gave me the last name "Rosenberg". I am a Jew because my father is Jewish (yes, my mother is not). I am a Jew because I trust in the God of Israel and His son that He sent as the "visible image of the invisible God" (Col. 1:15).

When the Oral Torah conflicts with the Written Torah; when Orthodoxy does something to celebrate the "authenticity of the Oral Law," we have a responsibility to check it with our Chief Rabbi who died and rose during Pesach, appeared for forty days during the counting of the omer, ascended to the right hand of the Father on the fortieth day and gave His Spirit on the same day as the Torah: Shavuot!

In short, Dairy Shmairy! Pass me a cheeseburger for the glory of God and in celebration for the authenticity of the Written Torah (Genesis - Revelation) and Yeshua our Messiah.

For more on Shavuot read: What The Heck is an Omer and Why Count 50 Days of Them?