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August 3, 2012

The 15th of Av: Love and Rebirth

The 15th of Av: Love and Rebirth

The Jewish Mini-Holiday of Tu B’Av


The 15th of Av is undoubtedly the most mysterious day of the Jewish calendar. A search of the Shulchan Aruch (“Code of Jewish Law”) reveals no observances or customs for this date, except for the instruction that the tachanun (confession of sins) and similar portions should be omitted from the daily prayers (as is the case with all festive dates), and that beginning on the 15th of Av one should increase one’s study of Torah, since at this time of the year the nights begin to grow longer, and “the night was created for study.” And the Talmud tells us that many years ago the “daughters of Jerusalem would go dance in the vineyards” on the 15th of Av, and “whoever did not have a wife would go there” to find himself a bride.

And this is the day which the Talmud considers the greatest festival of the year, with Yom Kippur (!) a close second!

Indeed, the 15th of Av cannot but be a mystery. As the “full moon” of the tragic month of Av, it is the festival of the Future Redemption, and thus a day whose essence, by definition, is unknowable to our unredeemed selves.

Yet also the unknowable is ours to seek and explore, as we shall in the essays, based on the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s writings and talks, presented here.

Why Do We Celebrate the 15th of Av?
A list of the joyous events that occurred on the 15th of Av, as detailed by the sages of the Talmud.
The Dancing Maidens of Jerusalem
The souls of Israel include “beautiful” souls, souls “of prestigious lineage,” and “ugly” souls, each of whom contribute their own unique dimension to our relationship with G‑d.
Committing to Love
Commitment and love are the two most basic components of marriage, and they are the foundation of our relationship with G‑d too. This concept explains the joyous nature of the Tu B’Av holiday.
The Day of the Breaking of the Ax
A desert decree revoked . . . a marriage ban lifted . . . 600 survivors go wife-hunting . . . roadblocks to Jerusalem removed . . . Betar dead buried . . . What is the connection between all of these events?
Of Holidays and Weddings
Examining the events that occurred on the 15th of Av, it seems that none of them—and even the combination of them all—seems to justify the establishment of a holiday that outshines all others!
The Circle and the Line
Celebrating Tu B’Av
Two of the most basic of shapes, yet two extremely deep and complex ideas. Feminine and masculine. The circle and the line . . .
15th of Av Audio Classes