Tu B’av, the 15th
of Av, is one of the lesser-known days on the Jewish calendar,
which is surprising since its focus is that ever-popular
Tu B’Av, according to the Talmud, young women would borrow
white clothing—so no one would stand out by their
wealth—and dance in the vineyards, where single males would
watch with a hopeful eye. The Talmud states that the young men
were advised to choose wisely and not focus only on a
woman’s physical beauty, but on her overall virtues. States
the Talmud, “Vanity is false, and physical beauty is empty,
[but] a God-fearing woman is to be praised (Ta’anit 31a).”
Tu B’Av link to women is that on this day the ban against
marrying outside the tribe was lifted. In the desert, the
daughters of Tzelafchad had come to Moses to ask that they
receive their father’s inheritance, since they had no
brothers. God told Moses to OK it, but that the daughters had
to marry within their tribe of Binyamin, so that the land
would remain in their tribe. After the Jews crossed into
Israel, this restriction was lifted—on the 15th
of Av. At a later point the tribe of Binyamin, which had
committed a major sin, was permitted again on Tu B’Av to
marry other tribes.
associations have also given Tu B’Av its joyous tag. The
Jews of the desert were sentenced to die before they reached
Israel. According to the midrash (additional Talmudic
commentary), on Tisha B’av (the 9th of Av) every
year they would dig and sleep in their own graves, and only a
few would wake up. This plague ended in the 40th
year, and was confirmed to be over six days later, on Tu
the Bar Kochva revolt that took place in 135 A.D. ended at
Beitar in a bloody massacre. The Roman general who executed
it, Adaryanus, refused to let the Jewish bodies be buried.
Only when another general took over were the bodies allowed to
be buried, on the 15th of Av. Miraculously, they
had not decomposed.
today is limited to not reciting tachanun, a confession
prayer omitted on Jewish holidays. Brides and grooms are also
released from having to fast on their wedding day if the
wedding is held on Tu B’Av.
if you go dancing on Tu B’Av, put on your best white shirt.
And remember your white dancing shoes.