With Tisha B’Av over, we leave the saddest part of the calendar behind us and turn to one of the most joyous (and least known) holidays,]
Tu B’Av was the traditional day for courting. These days, you don’t see many girls of Jerusalem borrowing white dresses and dancing in the vineyards. Modern boosters say the day should be rekindled as a day in which Jewish men and women search for their shiduch – their intended.
According to the Talmud, there are six reasons Tu B’Av was made a holiday. [http://bit.ly/tubav2] Among them: Marriage between different tribes of Israel was finally permitted on that day. In the desert, a ban on inter-tribal marriage had insured that land would not pass out of the hands of the tribe it originally belonged to. Virtual Jerusalem explains the significance. “The ability for all of the tribes to marry each other– necessary to facilitate a deep, fundamental sense of Jewish oneness – is worth celebrating.” [http://bit.ly/tubav3]
Yosef Abramowitz and Susan Silverman suggest that we could learn a great deal from those ancient courting practices. “The young girls borrowed white dresses so that the young men could not choose among them according to materialistic concerns… Today, we live in a world that is status- and fashion-conscious, a world of beauty pageants and beauty ideals set by television and movies, and some synagogues are even described as ‘meat markets’ for looking over the unmarried merchandise. Tu B’Av tells us to look beneath the surface when looking for (or at) a life partner, just as Yom Kippur forces us to look deep into ourselves before God grants us life anew.” [http://bit.ly/tubav4]
Rabbi Yossi Sarid continues. “Yom Kippur is the day of unbounded love towards Hashem (God), through self-sacrifice and affliction of the soul, ceding all our physical needs, in accordance with the commandment of the day. This love that is based on giving ourselves totally to God is the essence of Yom HaKippurim… Tu B’Av is the day of love between man and wife, the love that brings to perfection.” [http://bit.ly/tubav5]
Rabbi Shmuley Boteach says Jews should repossess “our own, Jewish Day of Love: Tu B’Av.” How? “Well, you could send your special someone a heart-shaped gefilte fish – well-refrigerated, of course. Or FedEx him or her a steaming hot bowl of chicken soup symbolizing your passion. But a far better way is for you women to don gorgeous white sundresses and organize with friends to dance away in Central Park in front of a mesmerized gathering of available single men. When the cops come to arrest you, you can say that your rabbi made you do it.” [http://bit.ly/tubav6]
Mark Mietkiewicz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org