Study and Theory/
Tu B'Av

There were no days as happy for the Jewish people as the fifteenth of Avand as Yom Kippur – Tu B’Av in the Babylonian Talmud

As Happy as the Fifteenth of Av

Tractate Ta’anit p. 30b-31a

Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel said: There were no days as happy for the Jewish people as the fifteenth of Av and as Yom Kippur. Granted, Yom Kippur is a day of joy because it has the elements of pardon and forgiveness and, moreover, it is the day on which the last pair of tablets was given. However, what is the special joy of the fifteenth of Av? - Rav Yehuda said that Shmuel said: This was the day on which the members of different tribes were permitted to enter one another’s tribe, by intermarriage.  What did they expound (Numbers 36:1-12)? “This is the matter that the Lord has commanded concerning the daughters of Zelophehad etc. – this matter shall be practiced only in this generation.

Rav Yosef said that Rav Nachman said:  The fifteenth of Av was the day on which the tribe of Benjamin was permitted to enter the congregation of the Jewish people.  as it is stated: “And the men of Israel had sworn in Mizpah, saying: None of us shall give his daughterto Benjamin as a wife” (Judges 21:1).  What did they expound that enabled them to dissolve this oath?  Rav said: They understood the verse literally, as it states: “None of us,” and not: None of our children, i.e., the oath applied only to the generation that took the oath, not their descendants. Rabba bar bar Hana said that Rabbi Yochanan said:  The fifteenth of Av was the day on which the deaths of the Jews in the wilderness ceased. As the Master said: As long as the death of the Jews in the wilderness had not ceased, God’s speech did not come to Moses, as it is stated: “And it came to pass, when all the men of war were consumed and dead from among the people, that the Lord spoke to me, saying” (Deuteronomy 2:16–17).

 

Ulla said:  The fifteenth of Av was the day on which King Hoshea, son of Ela canceled the guards that Jeroboam, son of Nevat, placed on the roads so that the Jews would not ascend to Jerusalem for the pilgrim Festival. And he said they may ascend to wherever they wish. Rav Mattana said:  There was an additional salvation on this day, as it was the day that the slain of Beitar were brought to burial, several years after the battle at Beitar. And RavMattana said:  On the same day that the slain of Beitar were brought to burial, they instituted the blessing: Who is good and does good at Yavne. Who is good, thanking God that the corpses did not decompose while awaiting burial, and does good, thanking God that they were ultimately brought to burial. It is Rabba and Rav Yosef who both say:  The fifteenth of Av was the day on which they stopped chopping down trees for the arrangement of wood that burned on the altar, as it is taught in a baraita that Rabbi Eliezer the Great says: From the fifteenth of Av onward, the strength of the sun grows weaker, and from this date they would not cut additional wood for the arrangement, as they would not be properly dry. 

 

Rav Menashya said: And they called the fifteenth of Av the day of the breaking of the scythe. From the fifteenth of Av onward, when the days begin to shorten, one who adds to his nightly Torah study will add years to his life, and he who does not add [mosif] will be gathered [ye’asef ]. The Gemara asks: What is the meaning of the phrase: He will be gathered? Rav Yosef said: It means that his mother will bury him.

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