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Study and Theory/
Tu B'Av

Moshe Mivtach

When Moon and Sun Met on Tu B’Av

Kibbutz Kinneret 1992

Its origins are apparently in a very ancient holiday, and the date is no coincidence. According to the lunar calendar, Tu B’Av (15th of Ab) is the date of a full moon. From ancient times this was associated with the female fertility cycle, which more or less overlapped with the lunar month; hence, the Hebrew word for month - yareiach (moon). Matching the lunar calendar to the sun calendar indicates, when coinciding with the middle of August, that the date is 15th of Ab. In leap years, there is an interesting combination of sun setting time + moon rising time + amount of light at dusk due to shortening of the day, 52 days after ‘the longest day’. This combination creates a very impressive phenomenon: The most beautiful moon rise of the year! Anyone who hasn’t noticed this until now, is welcome to watch the full moon getting its golden red hue, and the light contrasts of dusk that inspire all romantics. It is especially recommended to watch this from the shores of the Sea of Galilee (Lake Kinneret), with the light reflected from the water. However, this can be done by a swimming pool too. This phenomenon is still waiting for an entrepreneur to operate a Love Festival on the Kinneret, as existed in ancient times, and not a discotheque! When the maidens of Israel went out to dance in the vineyards, and thus gave the princes of their dreams an opportunity to make a go of it. It should be noted that the dancers were dressed according to the Second Aliyah dress code, in other words: They all wore white, to avoid any difference between rich and poor girls. And as hazal said: “Never were more joyous festivals in Israel than the 15th of Ab and the day of atonement.”

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