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Insights into Tu B’Av

Dr. Gila Vachman
| 12/08/2022

In recent years, Tu B’av has become the ‘holiday of love’, a sort of Jewish version of ‘Valentine’s Day’. Why?

The well-known mishna in tractate Taanit (4:6) states: “There were no good days for Israel like the fifteenth of Av and Yom HaKippurim in which the daughters of Jerusalem go forth in white garments, in order to not embarrass anyone who does not have [fine clothes].. And the daughters of Jerusalem go out and danced in the vineyards.”

15 of Av is included here along with Yom Kippur, and the Talmud wondered: Why is Tu B’Av so great? Why did it receive such attention?

The first two answers (out of six) given to this question are: “The day when tribes were allowed to come together” and “the day when the tribe of Benjamin was allowed to come in crowds.” check better translation- join with the other tribes?

Even without knowing the biblical background to these answers (the first is the story of the daughters of Tselophad in the book of Bamidbar (Numbers), the second is the story of the concubine in the hill in the book of Judges), it can clearly be seen that the emphasis is not on relationships and romance but rather on the connection within the People. If so, five days after fasting for the destruction of the Temple caused by division and gratuitous hatred, it is absolutely appropriate to celebrate a holiday that symbolizes the complete opposite. You can, of course, buy a bouquet of flowers for your loved one on this day, but you should remember that this is not the only meaning of this special day in the Hebrew calendar. We should focus on healing the rifts among the various segments of Israeli society and trying to approach each other with curiosity and respect.

Dr. Gila Vachman is a Lecturer in Midrash at The Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies and coordinates The Schechter Rabbinical Seminary’s Torah Lishmah program at Neve Schechter in Tel Aviv.

Dr. Gila Vachman studied at the Hebrew University where she received a BA (cum laude) in Talmud and Hebrew literature, an MA (cum laude) in Midrash and Aggadah as well as a PhD. She is a lecturer in Midrash and Aggadah at the Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies and the Hebrew University. Born in Kibbutz Yavne, Dr. Vachman is married, the mother of three children, and lives in Jerusalem.

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