The 15th day of the month of Av (Tu b’Ab) is one of those special days on our Jewish calendar that can almost be missed if we don’t pay close attention because, unlike other holy days, it does not require us to leave our weekday activities and immerse ourselves in special mitzvoth. Yet it contains a treasure trove of spiritual wealth that is available for us to mine. We enter the treasury through a portal called “awareness.”
Let us first take note that Tu B’Av falls out forty days before the 25th of Elul which is the first day of Creation. Our Rabbis (Chazal) teach that forty days before conception, a Bas Kol announces whom each child-to-be will marry. So also forty days before the creation of the world, a Bas Kol announced the future covenant between the Creator and the Jewish nation (B’Nei Yissaschar, Ma’amer Chodesh Tamuz, dalet).
It is written in our holy seforim that the month of Av is governed by the letter Tes and has within it a tremendous inner power for (Tov) good as revealed through the numerous blessed occurrences/proclamations that Chazal have associated with Tu b’Av.
The tractate (Gemora) Taanis 30b-31 lists a number of favorable events that took place in Jewish history all on this very auspicious day of the 15th of Av. Let us see if we can create a connecting correlation between the events listed in Gemora Taanis with our seven shepherds and the sefortic attributes that they correspond to.
During the fledgling Jewish nation’s forty year passage through the midbar, all the men died upon reaching sixty; this decree was rescinded at the end of their journey, which became apparent on Tu B’Av. Also, the slain of the city of Beitar were finally buried on the 15th of Av. Both of these incidents reflect the attribute of chesed as exemplified by Avraham Aveinu as seen through altruistic kindness (chesed shel emes) he fulfilled sparing no effort or expense for the burial for his deceased wife – Sarah.
Then there was the “removal of the roadblocks” that had prevented access to Jerusalem. This possibly correlates to the attribute of spiritual strength (gavurot) as epitomized through Yitzchak Aveinu whose life was one of directed holiness through discipline, reaching its crowning glory when he “removed all barriers” through selflessly offering himself at the story of the Akeda.
Since after the 15th of Av the nights become longer, the Gemora tells of the importance of increasing ones Torah learning in the “evening”. Torah corresponds to the attribute of the balance between chesed and gavurot known as(teferiot) – as epitomized Yaakov Aveinu who exemplifies misiras nefesh for Torah learning especially during the long “night of the galus”. The Midrash tells us that after fleeing from Esau, Yaakov studied continuously for fourteen years, day and night, before meeting his next worldly challenge – that of Lavan.
On this day the ban against marriage between the tribe of Binyamin and the rest of the tribes (Shafatim) was repealed.. This allowed for the Jewish nation to be “reunited”. Unity between Jews help us to “reunite” with the Creator (Ribbono shel Olam). This is the attribute of eternality (netzach), exemplified by Moshe Rabbeinu who dedicated his life to the lofty goal of unifying us with Hashem.
Wood cut up to the 15th of Av (but not later) was used as fuel for the alter (mizbe’ach) where we offered our sacrifices through the descendants of Ahron HaKohen, who exemplifies the quality of submissive splendor (hod). Just as the wood was totally consumed on the alter of Hashem, so was the level of total selfless dedication of Ahron HaKohan in his avodas Hashem.
Tu B’Av is the last day of planting before the New Year. Planting seeds at the proper time will, with the help of Hashem, begin a process that will later produce life- sustaining nourishment. Yoseph, who was placed in charge of the world’s food supply, corresponds to the attribute of yesod that channels Divine influences. This perhaps teaches us that as important as it is to plant seeds – meaning to have nice ideas – it is just as important to follow up by cultivating, harvesting and finally distributing the fruits of ones efforts.
This list of events that took place on the 15th of Av indicates to us that this extraordinary day is a repository for many blessings. Our Sages tell us that the 15th of Av is compared to Yom Kippur in a number of important ways. First they are both days of forgiveness: Yom Kippur was the day the Jewish people were forgiven for the sin of the golden calf (eigel); whereas on the 15th of Av the Bnei Israel in the midbar were finally forgiven for the sin of the spies (cheit ha-meraglim). In the time of the holy Temple in Jerusalem (Beis HaMikdosh), both these days were also especially imbued with Heavenly assistance for shidduchim. (Gemors Ta’anis, 26b)
So great is the power of Tu B’Av, the Pri Tzadik tells us, that the third and final Bais Hamikdash will be “built” on the 15th of Av.
This final redemption will come about through our long awaited Mashiach ben David who exemplifies the power of – malcus – royalty to orchestrate, combine and develop all the mentioned above Divine attributes. May we merit this revelation soon in our days.