Happy Tu B’Av
Today marks one of two days considered the happiest days on the Jewish calendar. Tu B’av, or the 15th of Av, has in modern times become a day dedicated to love and in many ways a Jewish version of Valentine’s Day. It is a day highly coveted for weddings and considered a Hag HaAhava or “holiday of love.”
Coming after the three weeks of sadness leading up to Tisha B’Av, it stands in marked contrast as a joyous holiday.
According to the Talmud, it was a day of joy because it marked the beginning of the grape harvest in the Days of the Temple. Unmarried females would dance wearing white gowns in the vineyards on Tu B’Av. Talmudic tradition also states that during the wandering in the desert, females who were orphaned without brothers would have to marry within their tribe to prevent their father’s possessions from passing to other tribes.
Also, the descendants of ten of the spies sent out by Moses to inspect the land of Canaan were cursed so that a significant number of them dug their own graves and awaited death every Tu B’Av. In the 40th year of the wandering both the female orphans and the descendants of the spies found themselves free of the ban and no longer cursed with death.
The holiday also celebrated the wood-offering in the days of the Temple. It is stated that the cutting of the wood for the Temple was completed in the first year on Tu B’Av. There are no real rituals associated with Tu B’Av. However, if their wedding falls on Tu B’Av, a bride and groom may dispense with the fast traditionally held before the ceremony. No matter what reason one has to celebrate, have a happy Tu B’Av.