How do we lift ourselves from the spirit of mourning and grief surrounding Tisha B’av and the commemoration of the destruction of the ancient Temples in Jerusalem? One way is to host the Jewish version of Valentine’s Day. Less than a week after the 9th of Av, we celebrate Tu B’av – the 15th day of Av. The tradition was that on Yom Kippur afternoon and the 15th of Av, the maidens of Israel would dress all in white and go out into the fields and meet the young masters of Israel and they would create matches. Within a year they would be married.
There is an interesting message that I think this practice strives to teach. It is a message that permeates Judaism. Despite pain and anguish; despite deep introspection and self-critique; despite death and desolation, life for the living must go on. We experience suffering and sorrow, we embrace it and allow ourselves time to mourn, but we do not let it consume us.
Even on Yom Kippur when we deprive ourselves of food and water and descend into deep self-examination but we emerge to celebrate with a ceremony that marks new beginnings. Even after sitting on the floor and chanting Lamentations on the 9th of Av, while refraining from food and water, we then rise up and rejoice with a tradition that heralds a positive future of growth and prosperity.
Light after darkness and hope after despair these are messages we can take from the celebration of Tu B’av. As we turn our attention away from the hot summer and begin preparing for the high holidays, may we all experience a time of hope and joy.
Rabbi Bradley Tecktiel has been Midbar Kodesh Temple's spiritual leader since August 2008. Rabbi Tecktiel was ordained at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America in May of 1996. He holds two Bachelor of Arts degrees, one from List College and one from Columbia University. He also holds a Masters of Arts from the Jewish Theological Seminary.
You can follow him on Twitter @RabbiMKT