Tu B’Av (the 15th of the Hebrew month of Av, usually falling in July-August) is a special day on our calendars that has become an auspicious day for weddings.

In biblical times, unmarried girls would wear white dresses that they borrowed from each other (so no one would know whose dress was finer than the other) and dance in the vineyards. The men would come and choose a wife. The Talmud states that there were no holy days as happy for the Jews as Tu B’Av and Yom Kippur.1

Here are some of the reasons cited for celebrating Tu B’Av. A couple of them also have to do with marriage, hence the connection with weddings.

  1. After the Jewish nation accepted the slander of the Spies about the Land of Israel, G‑d decreed that the entire generation would die in the desert. The dying finally ended on the 15 of Av, and a new generation of Jews stood ready to enter the Holy Land.
  2. Following the incident of the Daughters of Tzelophchad, female inheritors were prevented from marrying outside their tribe so that the land remained within the tribe. After the conquest and division of Canaan under Joshua, this ban was lifted on the 15th of Av, and inter-tribal marriage was allowed.2
  3. The Tribe of Benjamin was allowed to intermarry with the other tribes after the incident of the Concubine of Givah.
  4. King Hosea of the northern kingdom removed the sentries on the road leading to Jerusalem, allowing the 10 tribes to once again have access to theTemple.

A Jewish home is likened to the holy Temple, and so building a Jewish home by marrying and having children is of paramount importance. Today, in Israel, almost every wedding hall is booked for Tu B’Av!

Here are seven activities you can choose to do to mark this minor, but very happy, Jewish holiday:

  1. Since one of the focuses of Tu B’Av is marriage, think of someone who isn’t yet married. You can get together with a few people and brainstorm possible matches, shidduchim. Have a matchmaking party! Someone who makes a successful match is said to merit a portion of Gan Eden.
  2. Another important mitzvah is hachnassat kallah. That’s helping marry off a bride with everything she needs to set up a new home. There are organizations that raise money for disadvantaged brides that you can donate to, or set up a registry for a friend who’s about to be wed but doesn’t have a lot of funds.
  3. Maintaining peace in one’s home, shalom bayit, is an important ideal in Judaism, which views marriage between husband and wife as a manifestation of G‑d’s connection with His creations. So buy your spouse a small gift, write a loving poem, or celebrate by going out to dinner or taking a special walk. The holiday begins the night before (which is invariably a full moon).
  4. The main thing to do on the 15th of Av is to increase in studying Torah, since the “nights are starting to get longer” and “the night was created for study.”
  5. Make peace with someone. Tu B’Av celebrates the reunification of the tribes. It also precedes the beginning of the days of repentance and soul-searching with the onset of the month of Elul. Find someone with whom you have had an altercation and initiate a reconciliation.
  6. Since the tradition in biblical times was for the girls to exchange white dresses so no one would know by the clothing she wore who was rich and who was poor, you can have a clothing swap. Get together with your friends—especially those who you know could use it—exchange clothes, put on music, and dance.
  7. Donate some clothes to charity. Clothing the poor is an important mitzvah and what better time to perform it than a day noted for saving young women from embarrassment because of their clothes? The first incident of clothing the naked was performed by G‑d himself, when he made tunics for Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.

Let us wish one another that we all merit to see this beautiful prophecy take place immediately: And may there be heard in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem, the sound of joy and the sound of gladness, the sound of groom and the sound of bride.3