When I think of Jewish holidays, Tu B’Av does not readily come to mind. When I Googled “Jewish holidays” and clicked on the kind of sites that should be comprehensive, I did not easily find this holiday. Since there are no laws or customs I have to observe, it was never on my radar.

Beyond the fact that in modern-day Israel Tu B’Av is celebrated as a “day of love,” and is considered a propitious day for getting married, I didn’t see the deep meaning or relevance in it.

As a former divorce attorney now doing marriage coaching, any Jewish holiday with a love and marriage theme is going to get a deeper look from me

As a former divorce attorney now doing marriage coaching, however, any Jewish holiday with a love and marriage theme is going to get a deeper look from me. I was amazed to find out that this rather obscure and uncelebrated holiday is actually considered by the Talmud as one of the greatest festivals of the year!

While there are six separate events linked to Tu B’Av, two of them are linked to marriage.

In the first generation to enter the land, a woman who had inherited land from her father was not permitted to marry a man from a different tribe, lest the land that had belonged to her father’s tribe now be ceded to a different tribe. On Tu B’Av, that restriction was lifted. Love triumphed over tribal considerations.

Later, there was a horrific incident of rape that occurred within the tribe of Benjamin, which so incensed the other tribes that a civil war broke out, virtually wiping out the tribe of Benjamin. Six hundred men escaped, but, because of their role in defending the crime, they were prohibited from marrying women from the other tribes. Recognizing that the tribe would become extinct, however, the tribes later relented, and on Tu B’Av that decree was lifted. Forgiveness and compassion triumphed, and love prevailed.

Tu B’Av, a day of rejoicing, a day of love, a day on which restrictions were removed and differences bridged, is preceded six days earlier by Tisha B’Av, the saddest day of the year, on which the First and Second Temples were destroyed, among other calamities. This interval of time is so short that one could view these events as being interconnected. One connection comes readily to mind.

The most significant marriage that can said to have occurred for the Jewish people can be linked back to the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai. The Midrash teaches us that Shavuot was a wedding ceremony, and Mount Sinai the chuppah, the marriage canopy. The Jews stood united before G‑d and were His beloved, and we were ready to do anything to make Him happy. It was a fulfillment and culmination hundreds of years in the making. We were on our way, we had everything we needed, we set out on our honeymoon—and then things went south, and due to some very inappropriate behavior on our part, the Groom, as it were, split.

We set out on our honeymoon, and then things went south

G‑d didn’t file a divorce complaint. But with the destruction of the Temple and the departure of G‑d’s holy presence, the Shechinah, it has to be said that G‑d and the Jewish people are not exactly living together in their marital residence.

Every year that the Temple is not rebuilt, every year that Moshiach is not here, our marital separation continues. We need our holy Husband to want to reconcile, to want to return home and never leave again. We need the power of Tu B’Av—its energy of connection and love—to dispel the darkness and disconnection of Tisha B’Av.

A friend of mine has a saying, “If you want an important person to stick around, you better give him a comfy chair.” Maybe G‑d is just waiting for the Jewish people to give Him a place to sit, to dwell amongst us as He once did. So what could G‑d’s comfy chair look like? What could “happily married” to the Jewish people look like to G‑d?

The only think I can think of is this: lovingkindness, an open and generous spirit, compassion and connection, within and without. We must show up with love, kindness and compassion for ourselves, for our fellow Jews, for others, for every living thing, for the divine spark that manifests and dances throughout every facet of creation. Make a space, pull up a chair, fluff up the cushions, open your heart, embrace holiness, and the Beloved can come home.

“If we have the power to destroy, we have the power to build”

Reb Nachman of Breslov said, “If we have the power to destroy, we have the power to build.” May we rebuild our selves, our homes, our marriages, our families, our community and our connection to G‑d. May we lift Tu B’Av out of its obscurity and embrace the deep and beautiful meaning of the day, when we will be celebrating the triumph of love and the return of the Beloved. May we be worthy of connection, so that G‑d will reveal the promise of a day that the Talmud calls the greatest festival of the year.