Monday, August 15, 2011

Tu be'Av - 15. Av


Today we are celebrating Tu Be' Av, the 15 of the Jewish month of Av, and I almost overslept it.

Tu Be' Av is the so - called "Day of Love" and could be compared to Valentines Day. To many Jews, Tu Be' Av is an unknown holiday. Mourning the destruction of both Temples on Tisha Be' Av a week earlier is much more common than celebrating the Jewish "Valentine's Day" on 15th Av.

Tu Be' Av is a minor holiday from the Temple times. Then, Jewish singles use to go out into the fields and look for someone to marry. The Talmud explains the whole procedure and compares Tu Be' Av with Yom Kippur. It says in the Mishna in Ta'anit 26b as well as in the Gemarot in Taanit 30b and Bava Batra 121a that Israel had no days as festive as the Fifteenth of Av and Yom Kippur.

What do have the fast day Yom Kippur and the happy day of Tu Be' Av in common ? First of all, both days are joyful days. On Yom Kippur, G - d forgives us our sins and we are thankful about it. Singles used both days to meet each other. Single meetings on Yom Kippur afternoon were quite common in those days. People would sit and talk, as there was not much to do anyway.
The above mentioned Talmud Tractates also teach that the singles dressed up in white clothes. Each of them wore the same having the advantage that no one could tell if someone was rich or poor. Everybody looked just equal and had the same chances. The Talmud also teaches that the clothes were borrowed and, therefore, had to be immersed into the Mikveh.

According to Rashi, the white clothes had to be immersed as there might be a suspicion that the real owner did not keep the family purity laws (Taharat HaMishpacha). Then female and male Jewish singles went out into the fields finding their match.

Photo: Miriam Woelke

Today, we do not necessarily go out into the fields finding someone but maybe we should still see the day as something special. In Israel it is a great day because Israelis always look for something to celebrate. They do celebrate the regular Valentine's Day but also Tu Be' Av. Remembering Tu Be' Av is even more special, as it is a day our ancestors celebrated in Talmudic times. People usually buy flowers and cook a nice meal in the evening.

Have a great and successful (finding the right match) Tu Be' Av !


  1. B'H

    And when are you going to find your mate? :-)

    Or maybe you'd rather stay single?

  2. B"H

    Good question ! For the moment I am a happy single.

    I know it sounds like an excuse but I don't have too much time for a relationship. Unless I find someone who is willing to have crazy meeting times and lots of chaos.:-)

  3. You say, "Then female and male Jewish singles went out into the fields finding their match."

    You ought to read more carefully the process of choosing a mate, how it happened back then, that is. Not as you describe it here - that's for sure. The way you describe it gives it a lewd connotation ("into the fields"). There was dancing, yes, and women were chosen from the swirling circle, but if you read the mishnah, you see they invoked the highest morale; Their talk was noble, meaningful discourse.

    But you make it sound they consummated their commitments there and then.

  4. B"H

    I think that people then were much more liberal then, for instance, haredi Shidduch society today.:-)

  5. B'H

    Right! There are many things written in the Talmud many Charedim don't find appropriare for a time. An example? The Talmud and Rashi made it clear that Jews should never have sex with clothes but completely naked, and that it was the practice of Gentiles to have sex with clothes. Rashi comments on the Gemara that even when they don't have sex, they should sleep naked evey night. I don't know why and from when, many Charedim don't follow that, while it's a clear Halacha from the Talmud and that there is not even a single Posek who contradicted that Halachah. You can search, you will find nowhere that a leading Posek of the past and present said that it does not apply anymore There are a lot of other examples like that!

  6. B"H

    I think it says in Tractate Kiddushin. Furthermore, as far as I remember, that a couple has to be naked while having sex and if the husband refuses taking off his clothes, the wife can ask for a divorce and receives fully Ketubah payment.

  7. B'H

    Yes, it's in Tractate Kiddushin. The truth is that if we would follow what's written in the Torah, the Talmud and Sifrei Halacha on the matter, really, we would have less frustrated people but more satisfied married couples among the Charedi world. Unfortunately, the nowadays Charedim are behaving like people from other religions who are teaching that intimacy is bad. They have invented chumros partaining to intimacy whic are mentionned NOWHERE in Sifrei Halacha, and what's written they don't follow (as if our ancestors were sinners and wrong for having permitted such and such), and last but not least, when other Charedi couples are following what's written, the fanatics are mocking them!!! If you want your marriage to be a failure, it's ok, but don't force other people to fail in their marriage too. We have the Talmud and Sifrei Halacha for guidance, and what's written was NEVER disputed. People should learn to keep their baseless (and sometimes stupid) chumros for themselves! Our only source should be the Torah and how it had been interpreted by Halachik authorities from the Talmud Era to the Acharonim, and not a self-made new religion modeled from what other religions are teaching. Judaism is not Talibanism, and there are many wonders and pearls in the Talmud and Sifrei Halacha partaining to intimacy people don't follow. No wonder there are so much disturbed married couples among us!