1. The holiday of the 15th of Av epitomizes the rectification of Tishah BeAv, hence its theme is the nullification of the galus and the building of the future Beis HaMikdash, with the true and complete redemption.

On the 15th of Av “the moon reaches its fullness” (Zohar I, 150b). Since the Jewish people are compared to the moon, and they also count months and years according to the moon cycle, therefore the complete moon would be symbolic of completeness among the Jewish people, who are destined to be renewed and rejuvenated just like the moon. This will be at the time of the future salvation, through Dovid, King Mashiach, of whom we say “Dovid, king of Israel is living and enduring” (Siddur).

This concept is more prominent on the 15th of the month of Av, for the theme of redemption is broadly associated with the month of Av, as the Midrash describes it:

The lion arose in the month of the lion (Av) and destroyed the lion (the Beis HaMikdash)...so that the lion (Mashiach) shall come in the month of the lion and rebuild the lion (the Beis HaMikdash). (Yalkut Shimoni, par. 259)

In other words, the destruction occurred in Av so that in the same month the Beis HaMikdash will be rebuilt in the future. For this reason it is customary to refer to the month as Menachem Av, which indicates the aspect of consolation, and since it brings the ultimate blessings, it is the consolation of redemption.

Thus, on the day when we emphasize the completeness of Menachem Av, we also emphasize redemption.

Concerning the 15th of Av the Mishnah says:

There never were in Israel greater days of joy than the fifteenth of Av, etc. (Taanis 26b)

What made the 15th of Av so special? The 15th of Av follows Tishah BeAv, a day which saw the terrible downfall of the Jewish people and destruction of the Beis HaMikdash. This descent must be followed by an appropriate ascent. The 15th of Av introduces the theme of the ultimate redemption and raises everything to the loftiest peaks, a fitting, reciprocal ascent. This revelation of the future redemption raises this day above all other holidays.

The Mishnah also compares the 15th of Av to Yom Kippur:

There never were in Israel greater days of joy than the fifteenth of Av and the Day of Atonement. (Ibid.)

What is the connection?

The second Tablets were given to the Jewish people on Yom Kippur, which introduced the theme of a wedding day, as the Mishnah explains:

“On the day of his espousals” (Shir HaShirim 3:2), this refers to the day of the giving of the Torah. (Ibid.)

The second Tablets brought a doubling of wisdom just as the 15th of Av also engendered the double consolation of “Nachamu, Nachamu Ami — comfort My people, comfort them...” (Yeshayahu 40:1), and the consummate solace of: “I, even I, am He Who comforts you” (Yeshayahu 51:2).

Both of these themes are bound to the future redemption: The perfection of the wedding of G‑d and the Jewish people will be in the future, as the Midrash writes:

This world is like the betrothal...the actual marriage ceremony will take place in the Messianic days. (Shmos Rabbah 15:31)

Likewise, the double consolation for the destruction of the First and Second Temples will be reached only when the Third Beis HaMikdash will be built. Heed the words of the Mishnah:

“And in the days of the gladness of his heart” (Shir HaShirim 3:2), this refers to the building of the Temple, may it be rebuilt speedily in our days. (Ibid.)

Another mutual theme. Yom Kippur is the “one day” of the year, when the Kohen Gadol performed the Divine service in the Holy of Holies; it melded the “unique” soul with the “unique” place at a special time.

The 15th of Av, which brings the rectification of the destruction and exile of Tishah BeAv, is connected to the redemption of Mashiach, the Yechidah, “unique one,” of the Jewish people as it unites with the “One and Alone” (Holy One, Blessed be He,) to effect: “I, even I, am He Who comforts you.”

This connection with redemption is emphasized more strongly this year.

Being a leap year, this year corrects any gap that may exist between the solar year and the lunar year. The sun generally symbolizes freedom, constant brightness and redemption. The moon, which waxes and wanes, represents galus. The justification of solar and lunar years indicates that the purpose of exile is to be redeemed. As mentioned earlier, “the lion arose in the month of the lion...so that the lion shall come in the month of the lion and rebuild the lion.”

Each time we realign the solar and lunar years at the onset of a leap year, we evoke and fulfill (in a symbolic sense) the Messianic promise: “Moreover, the light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun” (Yeshayahu 30:26).

This justification of sun and moon is also connected to the theme of marriage associated with the 15th of Av.

The Mishnah speaks of this:

The daughters of Yerushalayim came out and danced in the vineyards exclaiming at the same time, “Young man, lift up your eyes and see what you choose for yourself....” Likewise it says, “Go forth, O you daughters of Tziyon, and gaze upon King Shlomo, even upon the crown wherewith his mother has crowned him in the day of his espousals (wedding) and in the day of the gladness of his heart” (Shir HaShirim 3:2), etc. (Taanis 26b)

Here we speak of the perfect “marriage” of the Holy One, Blessed be He, with Knesses Yisrael (the Congregation of Israel) in the future time. This is associated with the concept of the “moonlight” once again matching the “sunlight.”

The sun and moon are symbolic of groom and bride. The moonlight does not shine, in and of itself, its only light is reflected from the sun. Similarly, the bride only has what she receives from the groom (at the chuppah ceremony he proclaims the betrothal formula and she approves in silence). This procedure, however, is limited to the present epoch when the moon is smaller than the sun and must receive light from it.

However, in the future, when the moon will once again be reestablished as an equal to the sun, then the bride will also rise to be equal to the groom, and she too will give, as it says: “the voice of the bride.” In that future epoch the bride will make the groom joyous for “...a woman shall court a man” (Yirmeyahu 31:21).

The last blessing of the marriage blessings expresses this future state, for it says: “Who gladdens the groom with the bride” (Siddur). This represents an aspect of equality. In the penultimate blessing, however, it says: “Who gladdens the groom and bride.” This speaks of the present epoch when the bride is dependent upon the groom.

Consequently, the 15th of Av, in a leap year, which, provides a symbolic preparation for the true justification of the sun and moon in the future, also enhances the perfect union of the Holy One, Blessed be He, and Knesses Yisrael of the future. Then too, the revelation of the esoteric teachings of Torah will bring Matan Torah to its ultimate perfection.

When, in a leap year, the 15th of Av falls on a Wednesday, when the “two great lights” were set in the sky, first as equals, and subsequently in the same day, as “larger” and “smaller,” this aspect of the union of G‑d and Israel is further enhanced.

This week we read the portion of “Eikev,” which is translated — “because.” Thus, the opening verse of Eikev tells us that as a result of listening, safeguarding and keeping G‑d’s Torah and mitzvos, in thought speech and action, we will be rewarded that G‑d will keep in mind the covenant, the love and the oath He made with the Fathers.

In other words, the reward which will come at the time of Mashiach will be as a result of our actions and Divine service throughout the period of the galus. It will engender the revelation of the light of the Ein Sof in the corporeal world.

So the theme of the 15th of Av is to bring redemption to destruction and the ultimate unity of the Holy One, Blessed be He, and the Jewish people.

In today’s Chumash section the Torah discusses the preparation of the second Tablets by Moshe, which brought the important “double consolation” and “double wisdom” as developed in the second Tablets. (The esoteric teachings could only be revealed after the second Tablets were given to the Jewish people.) Scripture further speaks of the special role of the tribe of Levi. The Rambam explains that not only the Levi’im, but anyone who wished to dedicate himself to holy matters could reach a state of “Holy of Holies” — similar to the state of the Kohen Gadol on the holiest day — Yom Kippur. Since Yom Kippur and the 15th of Av have been juxtaposed — we see the connection with today’s Torah portion.

In Today’s Rambam section we also find symbolic references to this theme of the 15th of Av and the ultimate redemption, which leads us to the important conclusion that we must increase our activities and Divine service in all areas of Torah and mitzvos, especially in those areas singled out to nullify the diaspora and bring the redemption.

First and foremost, Ahavas Yisrael and Jewish Unity. Since the cause of the exile was the lack of Ahavas Yisrael — it is self-evident that by increasing mutual love and respect among Jews it will nullify the exile and bring redemption.

This aspect of love and mutual respect is also alluded to when the Mishnah tells us:

The daughters of Yerushalayim used to walk out in white garments which they borrowed in order not to put to shame anyone who had none...came out and danced in the vineyards...go forth...and gaze upon King Shlomo (he was the King of Peace). (Taanis 26b)

The whole process of celebration pointed to love, mutual respect, unity and ultimately, to peace. All the different types of girls united in their outlook and their call, for they were motivated by their essential essence, the Yechidah of their souls.

We must also increase Torah study, especially in the area of Halachah, and also increase charity, as well as all the Mivtzoim: Ahavas Yisrael and Jewish unity — which lead to teaching others. At this time of the year you must influence others to attend proper Jewish schools and acquire a good Jewish education.

Torah should be increased after the 15th of Av (see Taanis 31a); tefillin, mezuzah, charity, a house filled with Jewish holy books, should all be increased.

The three Mivtzoim for Jewish women, lighting candles on the eve of Shabbos and holidays, kosher homes, and family purity, must all be activated.

Also the mivtza of having a letter in one of the communal Sefer Torahs, and to participate in the upcoming siyum celebrations of such Torahs.

All this will evoke G‑d’s mivtza:

Then the L‑rd your G‑d will keep in mind the covenant and love with which He made an oath to your fathers...in the land that He promised your fathers that He would give to you. (Devarim 7:13)

And He will bring back the complete nation to the Holy Land — which G‑d watches always — the complete land:

Your boundaries shall extend from the desert [south to] the Lebanon [north], from the Euphrates as far as the final sea (Mediterranean Sea]. (Devarim 11:24)

Then in the future:

In the days to come the Holy One, Blessed be He, will hold a chorus for the righteous and He will sit in their midst in the Garden of Eden and everyone will point with his finger towards Him, as it is said: “And it shall be said on that day: ‘Lo this is our G‑d, for Whom we waited, that He might save us; this is the L‑rd for Whom we waited, we will be glad and rejoice in His salvation’” (Yeshayahu 25:9). (Conclusion of tractate Taanis, p. 31a)