The Next Generation
Today in Israel Tu b’Av is a day of romance. It is celebrated much like Valentine’s Day in other parts of the world. Red roses, sweets and other tokens of love are given to your beloved. Couples have romantic dinners and dedicate love songs on the radio. While the holiday is now lighthearted, the origins of this lovely day are Biblical and deep in the foundation of Israel and the Israelites' relationship with G-d.
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 our last newsletter)
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.
The Love of Tu b'Av
One of the outcomes of the end of original desert generation and the next generation entering the Land of Israel was that women were permitted to marry whomever they desired amongst the tribes of Israel. Marking this monumental change in culture, Tu b’Av became a time of courtship.
On Tu b’Av as part of the joyous celebration in Shiloh of Samaria, the temporary capital of Israel before the first Temple, the daughters of Israel would dance in the vineyards as to romantically beguile the unmarried young men.
The girls exchanged white dresses with one another so the men would not be able to judge the women on the wealth of their families and ensure the attraction was true. This was a time for romances to begin and love to blossom amongst the summer grapes. Through these romances came marriages, which inevitably created children and the next generation confirming the continued existence of the Jewish people.
On this day of love, remember to express your love to your sweetheart and let us not forget the joy we receive from G-d’s ever-loving grace.