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The Jewish Press of Tampa and the Jewish Press of Pinellas County are Independently- owned biweekly Jewish community newspapers published in cooperation with and supported by the Tampa JCC & Federation and the Jewish Federation of Pinellas & Pasco Counties, respectively. Copyright © 2009-2018 The Jewish Press Group of Tampa Bay, Inc., All Rights Reserved. 


 

July 13, 2018  RSS feed
Rabbinically Speaking

Text: T T T

The forgotten Jewish holiday of love

By RABBI NATHAN FARB Congregation Schaarai Zedek

It’s summer, and love is in the air. Young women dance and twirl under the open night sky, arms outstretched. Their shining white gowns seem to shimmer and flicker like pure candle flames in the quiet glow of the full moon above. The shadows of the vineyard play hide and seek with the young men who soon join them, first exchanging silent glances then words of familiarity. From shining lips they sing the virtues of their beauty, their honor, achievements, values, and godliness. They leave the vineyards in pairs and fours, the seeds of love sewn and already sprouting.

This was the scene on Tu B’Av, the forgotten Jewish holiday of love each year in the ancient days. It occurred each summer on the fifteenth day of the month of Av, in the weeks leading up to the High Holidays. The Talmud declared that there was no more beautiful day of the Jewish calendar, and compared it to Yom Kippur.

It was a celebration that transcended class. The white dresses that the young women donned had to be borrowed, and women of stature could only give them to women of a lower status – the daughter of the high priest would give one to the daughter of a lesser priest and so on down the line. In this way, all were included, and all of the women bonded with one another. It was both a celebration of love and sorority. Because of the amazing way the Jewish calendar works, it will always fall on the night of a full moon.

In ancient days, it was celebrated just beyond the gates of Jerusalem. In recent decades, Jews all over the world have been reclaiming this majestic tradition. This year, Tu B’Av will fall on the night of Thursday, July 26. If you forget the date, just check the sky for the next full moon. You can make this ancient and timeless tradition your own this year in one of several simple ways.

First, in keeping with the celestial romance of the date, you can plan a romantic evening with a loved one. It is a delightful opportunity to go out for that special activity that you have been meaning to do but just didn’t seem to get around to yet. Or you can treat your partner to a meal or activity they love but you have been a little reluctant to try.

You could celebrate the day by gathering some friends together to go out dancing. The Talmud describes huge throngs of people engaging in a celebration of life among the vineyards of Jerusalem from all walks of life. Call a few friends and make a plan to dance and celebrate on this joyous day. Create memories that you can cherish together.

You can make it even more memorable by engaging in the old tradition of trading and borrowing clothes. Whether it is an entire outfit, or just a shirt, blouse, hat, or jacket and tie (it need not be just for women), this is a fun and memorable way to bond with an old friend. Of course, if you don’t care for dancing, you can get together with friends for any activity that you enjoy together. Extra points if you all wear white!

Whether you are giving fine clothes to someone a little let fortunate or as a gift to a friend, whether you wear white or just what makes you feel great, whether you dance the night away or enjoy a stroll along the moon-washed beach, have a happy and joyous Tu B’Av!

Rabbinically Speaking is published as a public service by the Jewish Press in cooperation with the Tampa Rabbinical Association, which assigns the column on a rotating basis.


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