Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Tu b'Av - The Fifteenth of Av


We are taught (Taanit 30b-31a) that Tu b’Av (the 15th of Av, celebrated Tuesday night and Wednesday August 4-5 this year) is one of the two greatest days on the Jewish calendar, sharing the title with Yom Kippur. The gemara enumerates seven elements of Tu b’Av’s happiness:

On Tu b’Av, the die-off of the Desert Generation stopped, so that the remaining Jewish nation knew they would enter Israel.

On Tu b’Av, the Civil War between Binyamin and the rest of the Jews (see the end of the book of Shoftim) stopped.

When Moshe announced that Israel’s land would be divided among patrilineally determined tribes, and that men would inherit land, Machlah, Noah, Chaglah, Milkah and Tirtzah requested the power to inherit their deceased father’s portions. This was granted to them, but among the consequences was a decree that women who inherited land would need to marry within their tribes, guaranteeing that when their sons inherited their land, it would remain within the tribe. This decree was lifted, broadening marriage options and gladdening shadchanim everywhere, on Tu b’Av.

After the Bar Kochba revolt was smashed by the Romans, the victors refused to allow us to bury our dead. Years later - on Tu b’Av - the Romans pioneered the now-routine practice of returning murdered Jews, and permitted us to bury them.

When the Northern Kingdom of Yisrael split off from the Southern Kingdom of Yehudah, Yeravam, leader of the north, set up roadblocks to keep Jews from the north away from Yerushalayim and the Beit haMikdash. Those roadblocks were removed, generations later - on Tu b’Av.

Tu b’Av, coming midway through the summer heat, is when we finish cutting wood for the korbanot of the Beit haMikdash, and so it is a day of siyyum, celebrating completion of this great mitzvah.

Tu b’Av comes at around the time when the nights begin to lengthen and the days begin to shorten (not precisely, of course, since Tu b’Av is a lunar date!). From this point on, then, we have less time to work in the fields, but more time to study Torah at night!

Have a great Tu b'Av,

No comments:

Post a Comment