Study and Theory/
Tu B'Av

Asher Gur Aryeh

Forgiveness & Absolution

Tu B’Av and Yom Kippur were good days for us. How are they connected in the Mishnah? What do they have in common?


In the Gemara it is explained that these are days of forgiveness and absolution. Yom Kippur is an expression of G-d’s forgiving Israel for the Sin of the Calf, whereas the fifteenth of Av marks forgiveness for the sin of the spies, since it is the day on which the deaths of the Jews in the wilderness ceased. And since there is no joy like the absolution of sins, the young girls would burst out in dance. But why did they choose to wear white?

 

Because white symbolizes purity and repentance. And this is what we say in the Yom Kippur prayers: Make our sines white as snow and like wool, as written in Isaiah 1:18: “Come now, let us settle the matter, says the Lord. Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.” On Tu B’Av the squill blooms. As with most of our holidays, on this day too, nature fits in very well! See the following paragraph from the Hareuveni family’s Book of Festivals: “Tu B’Av, the day of the squill’s blooming, was a good day for the Jews, the time of several celebrations and occasions – first and foremost that of matrimony. The daughters of Israel would go out on that day – neither in the spring colors of the pomegranate nor the vineyard of the Rose of Sharon; neither the rose of the valleys nor the spring flowers embroidered on the rugs of the fields and mountains, but rather white clothing, harbinger of fall in the land of Israel, like the squill flowers. In this season, young man, do not cast your eyes over the landscape and all the colors and smells of perfume which are absent now from the fields of this land, but rather the whiteness and purity of the family.” The connections between the blooming of the squill and wedding days and other celebrations and occasions such as the grape harvest festival arise through opinions preserved by hazal, based on various oral traditions passed down over generations, with no one tradition contradicting another, but rather complementing it. The common ground of all these tradition, without going into any detail, it the idea of turning Tu B’Av and the days that follow it into days of joy and gladness, love and brotherhood, peace and friendship. May the prophecy of Isaiah be fulfilled; The Lord will surely comfort Zion and will look with compassion on all her ruins; he will make her deserts like Eden, her wastelands like the garden of the Lord. Joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and the sound of singing. (Isaiah 51:3)

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