What is Tu B'av?

The Daily Halacha Moment - Tu B'av 👰🤵


״כל השונה הלכות בכל יום - מובטח לו שהוא בן ‎העולם הבא״ (נידה עג ע״א, מגילה כח:)


“Anyone who studies Halachot every day is guaranteed that he is destined for the world-to-come” (Megilla 28b, Niddah 73a)


Question:

What is Tu B'av?


Answer:

The Gemara states that there were no holy days as happy for the Jewish people as Tu B'Av (15th AV) and Yom Kippur. (See Taanit 30b)

According to the Gemara, Tu B'Av was a joyous holiday in the days of the Beit HaMikdash in Jerusalem: It was a time when unmarried girls would dress up in simple white clothing (so that the wealthy could not be distinguished from the less financially well off) and go out to sing and dance in the vineyards around Jerusalem and the young males who had not yet married would go to view and select among these girls a partner they found to be suitable. The Mishna describes the joy of Tu B'Av as a gathering in the fields of single men and women to begin the process of finding a mate. Clothes would be borrowed from one another; even the wealthy would borrow clothes from others. The Mishna makes a point of noting that the borrowed clothes were white, white being the symbol of purity. Unlike on dark colors, a little stain is noticeable on white; blemishes hidden in other nations are rarely ignored in the Jewish people. Our aim must be to make our sins white like snow—a theme emphasized on Yom Kippur—enabling us to be the model nation of the world. Most important, the essence of Tu B’Av is not to embarrass those who lack. “Because of Kamtza and Bar Kamtza, Jerusalem was destroyed”. If a Jew can embarrass another with impunity, then we have no claim to the city of Jerusalem, the city of peace. This is why everyone would wear borrowed clothing, even the rich would borrow from others, and everyone’s clothing looked the same. This also taught us not to look at the external and only focus on the internal and important traits.

The Mishnah also states that only those who were not married went, and not just simply spectators. Furthermore, it was done in a vineyard which is a closed area for purposes of tzniut. Not only that, but it was done with everyone together and not in a too private setting so that it would not lead to light-headedness or yichud.

Also the explanation of the word “mecholot” is literally a circle. The woman would simply hold hands and rotate in circle, not a full out dance. The Mishnah even goes on to say that the more beautiful women would state “Do not pay attention to looks, and focus on the good character traits.” The Mishnah also only states “Hayu Omrot” – that they would only “say”, not sing or be loud, these words were stated in the most tzanua way possible.

Even the clothing that was worn was standard and did not draw more attention than necessary. It should also be stressed that this custom is not practiced today namely because we no longer have prophesy. Unlike, when back then there was a person who had prophesy or a form of ruach hakodesh and was able to tell who belonged with who. It should also be pointed out that this was the only time those present would see their wife-to-be. This was not just a spectacle, this was the only time that a man would see the woman and then marry her! There was no dating, no talking, not even an instant was given for improper thoughts. It was done in the most utter kedushah and taharah, with the joy of mitzvah and on Yom Kippur, the most serious day filled with repentance and awe. All under the observation of a woman or women who had ruach hakodesh. These were daughters and sons of Tanaim who lived in the time of the Beit HaMikdash, who lived with unparalleled kedushah! It is no wonder that this session is counted among Aliyah Laregel and the Avodah of the Bet Hamikdash when the Pasuk in Echah (1:4) laments what we are missing since the Beit Hamikdash was destroyed. (Archives Rabbi Yonatan Nacson)

This is why today a lot of people have the custom to read certain parts of Tehillim as a zechot for a shidduch.

(ל‘‘ב ,ל‘‘ח ,ע‘ ,פ‘‘ב ,קכ‘‘א ,קכ‘‘ד ,קכ‘‘ז ,קכ״ח)


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