Here in America, everyone knows about Valentine's Day. From the first Valentine's Day in preschool where everyone brings in tiny cards with sayings like "You're my best friend" and "Will you be my valentine?" along with boxes of chalky pastel-colored heart candy with sayings like "You're Mine" and "Kiss me."
It's a holiday where we celebrate those we love, and commercial stores make bank on knowing you will definitely pay the upcharge on the same candy and flowers you could have bought the week before for half the price.
Well, long before there was Valentine's Day, the Jewish people had Tu B'Av, the Jewish Day of Love. In Israel, everyone knows about Tu B'Av, but for some strange reason, it hasn't gotten the same love in America. In fact, many weddings are held on Tu B'Av in light of the heightened levels of spirituality.
Love is truly in the air.
It is said that there are at least seven historical events in Jewish history that happened on this day. When the twelve tribes settled in the Holy Land, each of the tribes were not allowed to intermarry because they might lose their land to the other tribe. This law was lifted with the next generation and finally on Tu B'Av, they were free to marry outside of their own tribe (about 1266 BCE).
Can you imagine telling a women from Bergen County that she can't marry the man from the Five Towns because he's from another tribe?
It also says in the Talmud that with the summer full moon, on Tu B'Av, the single women would go to dance in the vineyards and the single men would go there to find a bride. Some say it was noted around the 1st millennium BCE while others say 70 CE.
All we know is, it's been centuries of this day being acknowledged as a day for romance and matchmaking!
This all sounds very similar to the Matzo Ball that happens in NYC every December, no?
Certainly times have changed, we are a modern people, and we have many ways of meeting that special one besides going out to the vineyards. Matchmaking is still done in some circles, and the rest of us go to Jdate, Jswipe, coffee meets bagel, and of course, there's that one time you let your mother's friend's cousin's son meet you for a bite to eat.
This year, Tu B'Av is from the evening of 7/26/18 - 7/27/18. On this Tu B'Av, the day of love, celebrate the love you share. Honor the love between you and that special one. Or, if you haven't found them yet, perhaps go out east to the wineries. Maybe you'll find your soul mate.