The Origins of Tu b'Av
Only six days ago we observed the saddest day in the Jewish calendar, Tisha b’Av. This day of misfortune for the Jewish people was created by G-d when the Israelites failed to trust that G-d that would protect them in the Promised Land. As a punishment the original generation of Exodus Israelites were not permitted to enter the Promised Land and forced to wander in the desert for 40 years. From this time forward on this day a long list of tragedies occurred to the Jewish people. (For more information about Tisha b’Av read this article.)
This brings us to the holiday we are celebrating today: Tu b’Av. Tu b’Av is the 15th of the Jewish month of Av. On this day we end the period of mourning for all the tragedies. What happened on this day that brought joy again to the Israelites?
Every year on erev Tisha b’Av, the anniversary of the spies return from Canaan, Moses told the people to go out, dig graves and sleep in them. In the morning they were told to rise and separate themselves from the dead. Each year on Tisha b’Av 15,000 of the original Exodus generation would die.
On the 40th year, every person woke, no one had died. Because they thought they might have miscalculated the date, they slept in the graves for an additional six nights until they saw the full moon on the 15th of Av and realized that it was actually true!
On Tu b’Av they realized that the desert generation was gone and the next generation had arrived. They were finally able to enter the Promised Land. On this day the Israelites celebrated.