The festival has a number of names: Feast of the Ingathering of the Harvest, Shavuoth (or Weeks), The Season of the Giving of our Torah; or Pentecost (for speakers of Ancient Greek); but in practice the festival we observe is The Feast of Eating Cheesecake AND Cheese Blintzes.
In the diaspora we will celebrate for 48 hours, commencing next Tuesday night. We eat dairy foods in appreciation of the promise of a “land flowing with milk and honey.” That is the standard translation, but the Hebrew – eretz zavath halav u’d’vash – really signals a land oozing milk and honey. The root comes from the verb ‘to sweat’. The land sweats milk, beads of honey form, merge and flow upon its surface.
This is intimate, physical language, the language of love. We consummate our love by the eating of cheesecake and cheese blintzes. We have loved this land and worked it and helped it to flow now as in ancient times.
Some will read these lines and lather themselves into a fury at my suggestion that my people have known and loved this land for thousands of years. They will diagnose my true racist, apartheid-mongering self. They will hate my love.
To all who read this, my greetings: Hag Sameach, happy festival! Good Yomtov.