By RABBI JOSEPH H. PROUSER
Tonight begins Tu B’Av (the fifteenth day of Av), also known as Yom Ha-Ahavah, the “Day of Love.” Our ancestors celebrated this “minor” holiday with unrivaled joy, with singing, dancing, match-making, and a principled recognition that love transcends superficial physical, social, and economic differences (Ta’anit 4:8).
Tu B’Av celebrates love for all fellow Jews. It was on this date that the Tribes of Israel were permitted to marry freely among each other (Ta’anit 30B).
Tu B’Av celebrates love of God. It was on this date that Hosea, the last King of Israel, removed all obstacles to Jerusalem and the Temple (Ta’anit 26B).
Tu B’Av celebrates love of life. On this date an end to the deaths decreed for the Generation of the Wilderness was confirmed (Eichah Rabbah 33).
Tu B’Av celebrates love of learning. The associated summer solstice means increasingly long nights, conducive to prolonged study (Ta’anit 31A, Rashi ad loc).
Tu B’Av celebrates love of service. By this date sufficient wood had been chopped and donated to feed the Temple’s Altar fire all year round (Ta’anit 31A; Yerushalmi Ta’anit 4:7).
“A loving heart is the beginning of all knowledge” (Thomas Carlyle).
Have a lovely – and loving – Tu B’Av!
(Rabbi Joseph H. Prouser is the rabbi of Temple Emanuel of North Jersey and the former National Chaplain of the National Jewish Committee on Scouting.)