LOVE.  This small four letter word is the root of so much power, so much potential.  We all crave it.  We all know when we feel it.  We know when we feel it for someone else, and we will do anything for that person.  And we know when we feel it being given to us by someone.  You know that someone cares for you, someone will try everything to protect you, someone is there to help strengthen you – that someone loves you.  It is a phenomenal feeling to give and to receive love.

In our Jewish world, there is a minor holiday that is gaining popularity (especially in Israel.)  It is the holiday of Tu b’Av.  Literally, this just means the 15th day of the month of Av.  But, like most of us here in the USA think of February 14th as the day of love (aka Valentine’s Day,) we should also have the same kind of immediate feeling for Tu b’Av.  It’s the day of love.  Weddings and special romantic events are often held on this day, which technically begins on the evening of the day before.  As our calendar is linked with the cycles of the moon, it should be no surprise that this evening is a FULL MOON event.  For this year of 2019, that means that at sundown on Friday August 16th, our festival holiday of Tu b’Av begins, and for any of us who have been outside this week, it’s a BEAUTIFUL full moon out there for us.

In the days of our ancient ancestors, Tu b’Av was celebrated as a kind of “singles mixer” event.  The eligible single women would borrow white dresses from the community and go out to dance in the vineyards and fields.  The unmarried men would come to watch and to dance with them, and the women and men would very often find their mate on this day.

I am again in awe of the powerful messages I find in the Jewish rituals and holidays.  What struck me the most when learning about the Tu b’Av ancient customs was that the women all BORROWED their clothing.  What a communal, supportive and egalitarian approach these women had for their fellow sisters.  By having the women all borrow their clothing, and having the community support them in this way, no woman was left out if she didn’t have an acceptable garment.  Each woman could let her own true self shine through without fear of being judged by her clothing.  WOW – talk about women supporting each other and women empowering each other!

This holiday of Tu b’Av is situated just 6 days after Tisha b’Av (the 9th day of Av), the saddest day on the Jewish calendar.  Tisha b’Av is marked by fasting and communal mourning of the destruction of both the First and the Second Temple, as well as the exile of the Jews from the land of Israel.  Having a celebration of love less than a week later is a great example of the resilience of the Jewish faith and spirit.  It is the promise of life and love after a period of fear and grief.

I encourage you to take a moment to ponder the beauty of the love in your life, in whatever shape that love takes in your world.  Celebrate the power and potential that love brings.  And maybe, if you can, you may find yourself dressed in white dancing under the full moon with someone you love.  Have a LOVING Tu b’Av everyone!

Published by jesschasen

Temple Emanuel Sisterhood - Past President 2019-2020 Temple Emanuel - Interim Executive Director

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