May 15, 2024
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May 15, 2024
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‘What Is All That Noise Out There?’

(Courtesy of SMGH) Imagine how you would have felt that day. “Huh? Who is that and what is with all this yelling?” I asked after being awakened from a nice peaceful sleep. Then comes the thunder and lightning and a deep, powerful shofar horn blast.1

“Oy, I overslept!” I say as I rush out of my tent to run to Mount Sinai, where I see it ablaze, and a thick cloud at its peak. “What have we done?2” thought the trembling Israelites as they stared in awe and fear and gather at the foot of the mountain as Moshe ascends alone to the top.

And so it happened, that day on the 6th of Sivan in 2448 (1312 BCE)3 as the blasting of the shofar horn grew louder, suddenly all sounds ceased and an absolute silence ensued. Then they heard this booming voice of God speaking the first two of the Ten Commandments. The people decide that it’s too much for them, and they ask Moshe to transmit the remaining eight commandments, which he and God agree will be best.

There you have it. 3,334 years ago, the most significant event in history, and you overslept! And we have been trying to compensate for that error ever since, with Shavuos traditions.


Shavuos Traditions

Today, as a remembrance of that faux pas, we practice the centuries-old ritual of Tikkun Leil Shavuos4, where we stay up all night learning Torah on the first night of Shavuos, to show our eagerness to receive the Torah. Tikkun Leil Shavuos is said to have been officially established by the famous 16th-century kabbalist, the Arizal or the Ari5. However, there are references to the custom in the Zohar, which first emerged in the 13th century but is said to have actually been written by Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai6.

In addition to being Judaism’s only all-nighter, Shavuos is the only holiday where dairy foods are encouraged! Eating meat and fish are signs of celebration in Jewish tradition, which is why many people eat beef or chicken on Shabbos and other Jewish holidays. Shavuos is the one Jewish observance where the opposite is true—dairy foods like cheesecake, blintzes, bourekas, kreplach (dumplings) filled with cheese are customary. Several reasons for this tradition have been offered, but many link it to the fact that the kosher laws were handed down on Shavuos, and the ancient Israelites, finding that their meat was not kosher, and they received the Torah on Shabbos, ate dairy foods instead.


Is Dairy Bad for You?

Well, yes, and no. Too much of anything is bad for you. Consuming too much dairy can cause nausea, stomach pains and diarrhea, even if you’re not lactose intolerant. Drinking or consuming too much dairy too quickly can actually cause vomiting because your body cannot process and digest it quickly enough.

On the other hand, dairy products have calcium, vitamins and milk protein, which have a slew of benefits for humans, especially when they’re young. The fatty acids and fat-soluble nutrients found in milk and other dairy products can promote brain growth, bone density, skin health and digestive system functionality.

Of course, if you’re lactose intolerant, these benefits do not outweigh the health problems of consuming dairy, especially cow’s milk.

As with anything, however, dairy should be consumed in moderation. Consuming too much can cause digestive problems, not to mention that a high-dairy diet can be very fattening if not balanced and coupled with physical activity. It’s important to note that 30-50 million Americans show signs of lactose intolerance; even more don’t even realize that they’re lactose intolerant.

So, what is lactose, anyway? Lactose is actually a type of sugar that occurs naturally in the milk of most mammals, including the most common American milk producer: cows. Within humans exists an enzyme called lactase, which is the enzyme that breaks down and digests lactose. This enzyme generally deteriorates and lessens as time progresses so that by the time they reach adulthood, the majority of people lack the proper enzyme to digest lactose, making them lactose intolerant. Over-consumption of dairy products can actually cause those lactase enzymes to deplete faster as they are being overworked. Signs of lactose intolerance include stomach bloating, gas, stomach pain, nausea and diarrhea after consuming dairy products. Some experts believe that a break from dairy products, followed by gradual introduction of them back into your diet can actually promote lactase production; however, studies aren’t entirely conclusive.7


Nutrition Care Services

“Not to worry,” said George Matyjewicz, PhD, community liaison at St. Mary’s General Hospital in Passaic. “If you do have issues with dairy, our nutrition care services can help. They have a specialized team of registered dietitians in the nutrition care department who provide medical nutrition therapy (screening, assessment, reassessment and education) for acute and chronic diseases across the age spectrum, while accommodating culturally and religiously appropriate menus. They also provide nutrition counseling for outpatients.”

There is also the possibility that diet issues may cause some physical injuries. If that happens, you may need a physical therapist who helps patients to prevent, decrease and eliminate musculoskeletal and orthopedic pain and/or limitations. Their physical therapists help patients to improve their movement, with minimal to no pain. Therapies include physical exercise, strengthening activities and hands-on treatment by a licensed therapist in order to return the patient to their maximum level of functioning.

St. Mary’s General Hospital—nationally recognized, locally preferred among the top hospitals in America for health, quality, and patient safety! A center of excellence for maternal-child, the hospital has over 550 physicians and 1,200 employees, with every staff member committed to providing respectful, personalized, high-quality care—to satisfy patients’ needs and exceed their expectations. St. Mary’s General is a proud member of Prime Healthcare, which has more Patient Safety Excellence Award recipients for five consecutive years (2016-2020) than any other health system in the country, including a “Top 15 Healthcare System” by Truven Health Analytics. To learn more about St. Mary’s General Hospital, visit or Facebook at

For more information, please contact George Matyjewicz, PhD, community liaison, at [email protected].

For questions/concerns related to the diet ordered by your physician, more information about these services or to learn how to make an appointment, please contact the chief clinical dietitian at 973-365-4777.

1 Exodus 19:16-17

2 Medresh Rabbah Shir HaShirim 55-56

3 “Origin of the Torah” Ohr Somayach

4 Tikkun means “correction,” while “Leil Shavuos” means “night of Shavuos.”

5 Rabbi Isaac Luria

6 A second-century tannaitic sage, said to be active after the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE. He was one of the most eminent disciples of Rabbi Akiva, and attributed with the authorship of the Zohar, the chief work of Kabbalah.

7 Does Quitting Dairy Make You Lactose Intolerant?

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