Tu B’Av, the15th of the month of Av, is a Jewish holiday whose history includes dancing, celebration, and matchmaking. In ancient times, unmarried women borrowed white clothing and went out to the fields to dance. Men were drawn to the fields by their graceful movements and joined them. The women would then choose spouses among the men dancing with them.
As Rabbi Janet Madden and Kohenet Batya Diamond explain:
The 15th of Av, a full-moon festival, was celebrated in ancient times as the beginning of the grape harvest, which concluded on Yom Kippur. On Tu b’Av, young women immersed their white dresses in the mikveh and and then shared clothing, so that no one could tell who was the daughter of a rich family and who was the daughter of a poor family. They danced in the vineyards, calling out to the men who came to join them, so the men should look at their inner qualities, not their outer beauty. It was the custom from Tu b’Av on to speak the greeting “May your inscription and seal be for good” (ketivah v’hatimah tovah).
Because of this history, Tu B’Av is known as the “Jewish Day of Love.” Recall that six days ago we observed Tisha B’Av, the saddest day on the Jewish calendar. We remembered losses and the tragedies we have experienced as a people. Plumbing the depths of our profound grief we touched the possibility of transformation. Today, on Tu B’Av we are embraced into something equally profound: Love.
What a blessing to be alive. To feel everything we feel–loss and love. Last week we traveled the path of loss and sadness. Today we are called upon to live one of Torah’s central values, to love. And so we set out on that path. Let’s give and receive the gift of love. As the pop song teaches, “What the world needs now is love sweet love. Not just for some, but for everyone.” All the dancers in the field, dressed in white, are worthy and ready for love. May we give and receive with open hearts.