Rabbi Kalman Green
Constantia Hebrew Congregation
Do not cook a young kid in its mother's milk. (Exodus 23:19, Exodus 34:26, Deuteronomy 14:21)
לֹא תְבַשֵּׁל גְּדִי בַּחֲלֵב אִמּוֹ. (שמות כג:יט, שמות לד:כו, דברים יד:כא)
We are all familiar with the halacha that one is required to make a separation between eating meat and dairy, and we “normal” Ashkenazim wait 6 hours.
Between dairy and meat, however, one is not absolutely required to wait at all, with exception of certain hard cheeses in which Ashkenazim are accustomed to wait 6 hours.1
The halachic reason behind this is because generally: a) meat gets stuck between the teeth, and b) its fats regurgitate odour for up to 6 hours, as opposed to [most] cheese.
The Talmud2 states that when Hashem was about to give the Torah to the Jewish People via Moshe at Mount Sinai, the angels staged a protest – insisting that the Torah should remain on high with them, as they were better exemplars and more worthy guardians of its values.
The final argument put forward for our side, which shut down all further angelic protest and allowed the Torah to be given to us, involved the mitzvah of not eating meat and milk together.
The argument was as follows3: After the angels told Hashem that they desired to keep the Torah for themselves, Hashem answered the angels that it states in the Torah, “Thou shalt not eat a kid in its mother’s milk.” Now, you angels surely remember the meal you ate in the home of Avraham Avinu? You ate meat and milk together during that meal as the verse4 states, “vayikach chemah vechalav…”, so how can you now ask to receive the Torah?
This, states the Midrash, was the final comeback which refuted any claims from the angels, and allowed the Torah to be given.
To celebrate and commemorate this victory, we eat dairy and then meat on Shavuos to emphasize the reason why we received the Torah over the angels, as they did not keep the dietary laws of separating between meat and milk.
Shulchan Aruch, Rama, Y.D. 89:2
Talmud, Shabbat 88b
Midrash Tehillim 8:2