August 09, 2006

Happy Tu B'Av!

From Arutz Sheva

[Today] is the Jewish day of joy and love called Tu B'Av, the 15th of the Hebrew month of Av.

Though required observance of the day has been reduced to omitting the confession prayer from daily prayers, the Talmud (Taanit 30b-31a) describes Tu B'av as one of the most festive days for the Jewish people during the time of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem.

One practice described entailed single women lending each other simple white garments, in order that the wealthy not be differentiated from the poor, and dancing in the vineyards around Jerusalem."And the daughters of Jerusalem would go out and dance in the vineyards located on the outskirts of the city. And everyone who didn't have a wife would go there," the Talmud states. "And what would they say?"

"Young man, lift up your eyes and choose wisely," the Talmud advises the Jewish men who would go out to the fields to meet their soulmate. "Do not look only at physical beauty - look rather at the family - 'For charm is false, and beauty is vanity. A G-d - fearing woman is the one to be praised...' ("Mishlei"/Proverbs 31:30)

"Other joyous aspects of Tu B'av include:* During the Jewish people's 40-years in the desert, female orphans with no brothers could only marry within their tribe. On Tu B'Av of the fortieth year, this ban was lifted.

* Also during their time in the desert – the men of the generation that accepted the ten spies' negative report about the Land of Israel would die each year on that day. It was well known that the Jewish people would not enter the land while members of that generation (barring Joshua and Caleb) were still living. In the fortieth year, the dying ceased and it was clear the Jewish people would be entering the Land of Israel in the near future.

* It was also on Tu B'av that the Tribe of Benjamin was allowed to marry the other tribes of Israel once more following the incident with the murder and mutilation of the Concubine of Giv'ah (Judges 19-20).

* King Hosea, the king of the Northern Kingdom, removed the restrictions of King Yeravam prohibiting the northerners to make pilgrimages to Jerusalem (Kings I 12:29, Kings II 18:4).

* It is the last day in the series of nine wood offerings to the Temple.

* The Roman occupiers of Israel permitted burial of Bar Kochba's Jewish rebels from Beitar on Tu B'av. The bodies, although lying exposed for over a year, were found miraculously to have not decomposed at all – a traditional Jewish sign of righteousness.

Many Jewish weddings take place on the 15th of Av, and secular Israelis celebrate the day, calling it Love Day.

In modern times, the Binyamin town of Shilo holds a celebration on Tu B'Av each year. Shilo resident Orit Rapaport told Arutz-7 that residents of Shilo see great importance in the reinstitution of the tradition Tu B'Av festivities. She says they have issued an invitation to residents of the Tel Aviv region to make a pilgrimage to Shilo in order to “celebrate the festival of love in its authentic manner – love between man and his fellow, between man and G-d and between man and our land.”

Lectures and workshops on everything from relationship to preparing the incense for the Tabernacle, which rested in Shilo, will take place throughout the day. Musicians and performers will also be located throughout the town and tours of the region available as well.

Today is also the Yahrzeit of Nachum Ish Gamzu who is buried in Tzfat. He was the mentor of Rabbi Akiva and always held "Gam Zeh L'Tova." This too is for the good.

It's hard to focus on the good during these trying times. But we must. Yesterday I was etremely stressed after hearing some bad news. As I drove,I had my hands clenched to the steering wheel and I noticed that my face was distorted in anger. I began to think about the situation and realized that I am not in control and what seems like "bad news" now could very well be seen as good and neccessary in hindsight. I decided to relax and made the choice to smile for no good reason. That small act actually changed my mood.

We don't know what Hashem has in store for us. He's brought us this far. Gam Zeh L'Tova.

3 comments:

Reb Chaim HaQoton said...

I wrote an essay abou Tu B'Av on my blog. Check it out!

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Joel Berim said...

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Guit Shabbes
Joel