Tu B'Av: Commemorating Marriage and Breakdown of Barriers
Monday is Tu B’Av, the 15th day of the Hebrew month of Av, and often commemorated as the holiday of marriage.
The Mishna, written 2,000 years ago, explains that Tu B'Av is a very festive minor holiday, on which Jewish maidens used to go out to the fields wearing borrowed white clothing, so as not to embarrass those who did not have fine garments of their own. The lasses would say, "Young man, lift up your eyes and appreciate whom you are selecting [to marry]. Look not at beauty, but rather at the family..."
The Central Bureau of Statistics released a report in honor of the day, headed by the above quote. It stated that in 2008, the most recent year for which complete statistics are available, 37,446 Jewish couples were married in religious courts, as well as 10,742 Moslem, 963 Druze, and 806 Christian couples. Average first-marriage age for Jewish males has risen from 25 to 27.9 since 1970, and from 21.8 to 25 for females.
This date also marks several other happy occurrences in Jewish history. The Talmud states that the ban on female orphans marrying outside their tribe was lifted on this date before the entry in to the Land of Israel under Joshua bin Nun. Several decades later, the ban on the Tribe of Benjamin intermarrying with the other tribes, following the incident of the Concubine of Gibeah (Judges 19-21), was lifted on this date.
Given the commonality of these two incidents, columnist Elyashiv Reichner, writing for NRG-Maariv, states, “If we are seeking a relevant message for Tu B’Av, then the message of dropping barriers and connectivity between ‘tribes,’ is much more relevant than just another silly day of free and unbounded love, as is hyped on this date by Israeli culture. If the agenda of Israeli culture was more Jewish [even more so than it currently is – ed.], we would crown Tu B’Av as the day of fighting against sectarianism.”