Tu B´Av Today: Engagements and Marriages

Today is Tu B'Av - the 15th of Av in the Jewish calendar - is "destined for engagements and marriages," according to Jewish tradition. Rabbi Shapira comments on its secularization.

, | updated: 11:08 AM

Although the day has been secularized to a degree - some even call it Jewish Valentine's Day - it has been rooted in Jewish tradition for 3,300 years.

The Mishna explains that on this day, which it calls one of Judaism's most festive, 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 - and would say, "Young man, lift up your eyes and appreciate whom you are choosing [to marry]. Don't look at our beauty. Instead, look at the family..."

In addition, tradition teaches that on this day the Israelites who had entered the Land of Israel were permitted to marry outside their own tribes. Many years later on this same day, the ban on marrying into the tribe of Benjamin was rescinded. Both of these marriage-related rulings were cause for great joy among the People of Israel, as were other joyous events that occurred on this date, and so it has remained throughout the ages for both the nation and its individuals.

Rabbi Shmuel Shapira, the rabbi of the town of Kokhav Ya'ir, explained to Arutz-7 today that the secularization of the day and its having become "Love Day" and the like "is positive from one standpoint: It shows that people want to love. True, they sometimes take advantage of it for various negative things that are very unacceptable - but the inner point of this striving for love, for goodness, for the ability to give to others and to feel united - this is something that we should try to develop, of course in a pure and holy manner... For instance, it should be used as a day for events of joy and holiness, such as what they're doing in Gush Katif today [see below], and together with this, to have singles meet each other - once again, in a framework of holiness and purity."