Bruce Baber (20 June 2021)
"The happiest holiday (15th of Av) that is largely forgotten"

Next month both the saddest time and the happiest time are commemorated.  Both are in the month of Av and come a little early this year.

“One week after Tisha B’Av, the saddest day in the Jewish calendar, comes a minor holiday whose mood is precisely the opposite. The festival of Tu B’Av (the fifteenth of Av) is called “the happiest day in the Jewish year” in the Mishnah (Ta’anit, Chapter 4).  The practice on this day was for single Israelite women to go out in the vineyards, dressed in white, and dance before the young men. Inspired by this, many modern Jewish organizations use Tu B’Av as an excuse to hold singles events.”

“One other ancient Tu B’Av observance is much more solemn, but no less joyful. The Talmud says that in biblical times the Israelites wandering through the desert would dig their own graves each year on Tisha B’Av, and everyone would be required to sleep inside those graves. Each year, many would die. Then, in the fortieth year in the wilderness, nobody died. Fearing they got the date wrong, the people dug graves and slept in them again. This went on for an entire week, until Tu B’Av, when nobody died and it was accepted as a miracle–and the Israelites’ entrance into the Land of Israel happened soon after (Yerushalmi Ta’anit 4:6).”



I’ve come across more detailed explanations for the holidays in Av, but these will suffice.  During Tish B’Av, the ninth of Av, both Solomon’s Temple and the rebuilt Herod’s Temple were destroyed.  Other disasters likewise happened on that date so we can perhaps say the fast day has been fulfilled (unless the Gog war should also take place on that date).  Tu B’Av  as described above is a parallel to the rapture… coming up alive from the graves, crossing over to the promised land, virgins dressed in white robes, and of course marriage.  Discussions with rabbis have aided me in my study of these dates.  While Rosh Hashanah looms on the horizon and may well be the date of the rapture, let’s not forget about the date (15th of Av) that is closer at hand.



Bruce Baber