Tu B'Av is a relatively minor Jewish holiday, which over the past few decades has become synonymous with Valentine's Day.
The holiday derives its name from the date of its celebration – the 15th day of the Jewish month of Av – usually in late July or early August.
According to tradition, five joyous events happened on Tu B'Av:
- On the 15th of Av of the 40th year to the Israelites' wandering of the desert, the last of the generation of the sin of the spies died out. God lifted the ban prohibiting the Israelites from entering the Holy Land.
- The 12 ancient Jewish tribes were permitted to marry outside their respective congregations. The Tribe of Benjamin was also allowed to intermarry with the other tribes, after being banned from doing so following the incident of the Concubine of Gibeah (Judges 19-21).
A favorite among wedding dates (Illustration: Liquid Library)
- The cutting of woods for the construction of the Temple's main altar was finally completed.
- Following the summer solstice, the nights, traditionally considered the best time to study Torah, are longer, permitting more study.
- The Roman occupiers of Jerusalem permitted the burial of the Beitar massacre victims. Tradition cites that miraculously, the bodies did not decompose, despite exposure to the elements.
The 15th of Av has become a popular day for Jews in Israel to hold weddings. While it is a regular workday in Israel, many observe the holiday with gifts and flowers to their loved ones.