How and Why the Talmud Made a “Jewish Valentine’s Day”

July 31 2015

The minor holiday of Tu b’Av (the fifteenth day of the month of Av) is primarily described in rabbinic sources as a day of consolation, marking the reconciliation between Israel and God after the destruction of the first Temple, commemorated six days earlier on Tisha b’Av. The Talmud also mentions a ritual in which unmarried women would sing and dance to attract potential husbands. The Talmud explains this ritual with reference to another national tragedy, described at the end of the book of Judges: the bloody civil war between Benjamin and the other Israelite tribes, provoked by a woman’s brutal gang rape by Benjaminite thugs. Shraga Bar-On explains:

This is . . . a great example of the manner in which the talmudic sages tried to shape historical consciousness via creative reinterpretation. One might have imagined that upon the conclusion of the civil war with the tribe of Benjamin, Jewish leaders would have established another Tisha b’Av to mourn this terrible civil war. . . . Instead, they took Tu b’Av and established it as a festival of love in which the tribes join together in matrimony. In this way, they turned enemies into lovers. The rabbis described Tu b’Av as an erotic holiday in which the daughters and sons of Israel go out to the vineyards and have a dance party—and then go home, as one people, as a mixed mosaic of tribes, to marry one another.


More about: Book of Judges, Religion & Holidays, Talmud, Tisha b'Av, Tu b'Av


In the Aftermath of a Deadly Attack, President Sisi Should Visit Israel

On June 3, an Egyptian policeman crossed the border into Israel and killed three soldiers. Jonathan Schanzer and Natalie Ecanow urge President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi to respond by visiting the Jewish state as a show of goodwill:

Such a dramatic gesture is not without precedent: in 1997, a Jordanian soldier opened fire on a group of Israeli schoolgirls visiting the “Isle of Peace,” a parcel of farmland previously under Israeli jurisdiction that Jordan leased back to Israel as part of the Oslo peace process. In a remarkable display of humanity, King Hussein of Jordan, who had only three years earlier signed a peace agreement with Israel, traveled to the Jewish state to mourn with the families of the seven girls who died in the massacre.

That massacre unfolded as a diplomatic cold front descended on Jerusalem and Amman. . . . Yet a week later, Hussein flipped the script. “I feel as if I have lost a child of my own,” Hussein lamented. He told the parents of one of the victims that the tragedy “affects us all as members of one family.”

While security cooperation [between Cairo and Jerusalem] remains strong, the bilateral relationship is still rather frosty outside the military domain. True normalization between the two nations is elusive. A survey in 2021 found that only 8 percent of Egyptians support “business or sports contacts” with Israel. With a visit to Israel, Sisi can move beyond the cold pragmatism that largely defines Egyptian-Israeli relations and recast himself as a world figure ready to embrace his diplomatic partners as human beings. At a personal level, the Egyptian leader can win international acclaim for such a move rather than criticism for his country’s poor human-rights record.

Read more at Washington Examiner

More about: General Sisi, Israeli Security, Jordan