Today is Tu B’Av: Singles Frolic in the Fields and Love Abounds
Posted by challahbackgirl on July 30, 2007
Cross-posted on CBDYAG’s blog
Today is Tu B’Av (15th of Av) the most joyous and mysterious day of the Jewish Calendar. It’s the greatest social singles event of the year, and Yom Kippur closely followed behind.
Rabban Shimon Ben Gamliel stated, “Israel had no holidays as joyous as Tu B’Av and Yom Kippur, when the young women of Jerusalem would go out and dance in the vineyards” [Mishna Ta’anit 4:8].
It is traditional to wear white for both the 15th of Av and Yom Kippur representing purity. On Tu B’av it’s traditional to borrow white garments to eliminate the appearance of class status. While the full moon shines in the sky, all the single women go out into the vineyards and males without out a wife would go there to frolic in the fields, and find himself a bride.The origins and significance to this holiday is vague, but 6 events are associated to this date by various Jewish sources, all of which remove some kind of restriction.
- The generations who came out of Egypt, who were condemned to death and not entering the holy land, stopped dying on this day.
- Intermarriage between the tribes was permitted, when the bans were lifted on this date [Num 36.8]. This is also a source for the many weddings celebrated on Tu B’Av.
- Members of the excommunicated tribe of Benjamin were allowed to appear in the community, and marriage to members of this tribe was permitted, after the incident of the concubine of Gibeah
“Therefore they commanded the children of Benjamin, saying “Go and lie in wait in the vineyards. And see, and, behold, if the daughters of Shiloh come out to dance in dances, then come out of the vineyards, and catch you every man his wife of the daughters of Shiloh, and go to the land of Benjamin”. [Judges 21:20-21]
- This is the date when the Romans permitted the Jews to bury Bar Kochba’s supporters who had fallen at Betar.
- The victory of the Pharisees over the Sadduccees was on either 14 or 15 Av.
- Northerners could again make pilgrimages to Jerusalem, when King Hosea removed the barriers installed by King Jereboam. [I Kings 12:29, II Kings 18:4]
Besides the theme of freedom to formerly restricted things, a major theme is unity amongst the Jewish people. Apparently some of the restrictions on separating the sexes are suspended on this day, as everyone danced and met that special person. In 70CE, after the 2nd temple was destroyed the parties stopped. Only to be revived in recent years by the Kibbutz movement and young Jews. It’s a popular day for weddings as the couple is exempt from the traditional fasting on their wedding day. In modern times, it is dubbed the “Jewish Valentines Day.” The only observances are we omit tachnun (confession of sins) and similar portions from the daily prayers and no eulogies are given at funerals.
This day also marks the conclusion of the cycle of retribution experienced during Tammuz and the first part of Av, and begins the new cycle of renewal, consolation and repentance, leading towards the High Holy Days. A time to reconcile our relationship with each other and with Hashem.
Have a very Joyous day!
Tradionally the night is a time for study, beginning today one should increase their study as the nights begin to grow longer. Here’s some sites discussing this holiday, many were used in the creation of this post. [in no order]
- Tu B’av on Torah Tots
- Tu B’Av on Everything2.com
- The Day of the Breaking of the Ax on Chabad.org
- The Dancing Maidens of Jerusalem on Chabad.org
- Audio teachings on the 15th of Av by Chabad.org
- 15th of Av by OU
- A Day for Love on Jhom.com
- Rejoicing in a Month of Misfortune on Torah.org
- The Meaning of Tu B’av on aish.com
- What’s that you say, a Jewish Valentines Day? from Jewish Outreach Institute