Tu B’Av – The Jewish Day of Love and Joy

Posted by Dorit Revitch on

Today is one of the nicest and happiest Holidays in the Jewish religion; for one reason or another, it is kind of neglected. It is called Tu B’Av, which means the 15th day of the month of Av, or The Love Holiday.

Yes, we Jews have our own Valentine’s Day, but we celebrate it in the Vineyards.

I can see your face now, you kind of ask yourself what is she talking about?

So let me explain.

So long before JDate, JSwipe and Tinder, there was Tu B’Av, the 15th day of the month of Av which falls 6 days after Tisa’ah B’Av (9th of Av), and there is a big mood change in between, from mourning to dancing.

But this is the uniqueness of the Jews. We cry and then we laugh and dance and sing. Someone who lives in Israel and went through the barrages of a missile last weekend in Israel, said to me on Monday of this week, “Only in Israel the day after the bombs/rockets stop life goes on as nothing happened”.  The same goes for the shift from three weeks of mourning and Tisa’ah B’Av to Tu B’Av.

Tu B’Av is a day of celebrating Love, Harmony, and Happiness, Judaism’s own version of Valentine’s Day. As with many Jewish traditions, its roots are ancient, but it is perfectly adaptable to modern times. Who doesn’t want to meet that special someone? As a Jewish mother, I can’t help myself in hope to spread the word. This year the holiday begins at sundown on August 11th and ends Friday August 12th in the evening.

 At first glance, Tu B’Av seems a lot like Valentine’s Day — many couples exchange gifts or flowers and celebrate with a romantic dinner or a night out. However, unlike Valentine’s Day, Tu B’Av is an ancient Jewish holiday that dates all the way back to the Second Temple times. According to the Mishnah, this was an annual matchmaking day when unmarried women would dress in white and dance in the vineyards outside the walls of Jerusalem.

Just as, according to the Talmud, there are several tragic events that are reported to have befallen the Jewish people on Tisha B’Av, which we mentioned in previous articles, the rabbis attribute many joyous events to Tu B’Av, one of the Rabis even called it the happiest holiday in the Jewish tradition.

So, what is the history behind this holiday called Tu B’Av.

  • Tu B'Av marked the end of the "Desert generation." After 40 years the desert generation died off and the new generation was finally ready to enter the Promised Land.
  • Tu B'Av marked the time when the tribes of Israel were permitted to intermarry. This next generation of women was granted permission to marry whomever they desired (within Israel) since the land had been allocated among the various tribes.
  • Tu B'Av marked the restoration of the tribe of Benjamin. Six hundred surviving males from the tribe of Benjamin were permitted to marry a daughter from Shiloh. This saved the tribe from extinction.
  • Tu B'Av became a time of celebration in Jerusalem. It was celebrated as a time of reconciliation for the sin of the 10 spies who came bearing such negative reports that the entire nation was reduced to panic. Later it became known as a time of summer dancing and a courtyard celebration. Girls would exchange white clothing with one another so that their prospects would not know who could afford expensive dresses and who was borrowing them. In recent years this practice has been revived and Jewish girls from Shiloh (located about 40 minutes north of Jerusalem) dance in the same vineyards, while Chassidic musical artists provide entertainment.
  • Tu B'Av marked the end of Yerovam's blockade against Jerusalem. King Yerovam was the evil ruler of the Northern Kingdom of Israel whose roadblocks were removed on the 15th of Av, allowing people to make the pilgrimage to Jerusalem again.
  • Tu B'Av marked the end of the year for planting. Trees and crops planted after this date are considered to take root after Rosh Hashanah and therefore belong to the following year for the purpose of the Sabbatical Year.
  • Tu B'Av marks the final Jewish Holiday of the year. Since it falls on the fifteenth of the month, Tu B'Av is a night of the full moon; and since the ninth of Av (Tishah B'av) recalls the history of Jewish tragedy, the full moon of Av represents the transformation of darkness into light, sorrow into joy.
  • Tu B'Av marks a time of romance and love in modern Israel. It is customary to send a bouquet of red roses to the one you love. Romantic songs are played on the radio and parties are held in the evening throughout the country. It is a popular day for Jews to hold weddings (and they are not required to fast before the wedding on this day).
  • As the “full moon” of the month of Av, it is the festival of the future Redemption, marking the end of the tragedy that marred the first part of the month (9th of Av, the falling of the two holy temples). Until this day, we held “Siyumim” and gave charity each day to mitigate our sadness and rush the Redemption. But on the 15th of Av, this is over.

This day marks forty-five days before Rosh Hashanah, the first day we begin to wish each other a “Ketivah Vachatimah Tovah”, to be signed and sealed for a good year.

As you can all see Tu B’Av is a great day of happiness, and celebration, tonight do not forget, to take your loved one go out to a romantic dinner or cook a romantic dinner at home and relax and dream of a great future together, and above all BRING HER FLOWERS…  😊.

When you do not have a spouse or a partner, celebrate with a friend, your children, or just indulge yourself with self-love, start writing a journal, buy yourself that book you always wanted and start reading it with a glass of wine, or go to the spa, and enjoy your day.

Love can be celebrated in twos but also alone, by yourself, appreciate yourself and love yourself like you expect others to love you.

Tu B’Av is all about the future and optimism, about the brightness of the horizon and not looking at the darkness of the past, it’s a real paradigm shift and it’s a start of a new era towards the new year (the Hebrew Lunar calendar), which this year starts on September 25th, 2022 at sundown.

 So, it is time to celebrate LOVE and bring happiness to all those around you.

Have a Happy Tu B’Av, everyone.

“Where there is love there is life.” – Mahatma Gandhi

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