Day of Hope and Good Beginnings
by HaRav Dov Begon, Head of Machon Meir
Why did our sages say, “There were never such good days for Israel as Tu Be’Av (the fifteenth of the month of Av) and Yom Kippur” (Ta’anit 26b)? Our sages explain that Yom Kippur contains the element of forgiveness, and it is the day on which Israel were given the second Tablets. Thus, on Yom Kippur we turn over a new leaf in our relations with G-d and with our fellow man. Such a day is a holiday and a day of joy for the community and for the individual (Ta’anit 30).
Tu Be’Av is the day of matchmaking and weddings. It is the day on which it was declared permissible for the tribes to intermarry, and for the tribe of Benjamin to intermarry with the other tribes. It was the day on which the Desert Generation ceased dying off, and G-d resumed speaking to Moses. It was the day on which the roadblocks, set up by Yeravam ben Nevat on the road to Jerusalem to keep the Kingdom of Israel from making pilgrimages to Jerusalem, were dismantled. It was the day on which the martyrs of Beitar were handed over for burial, and the blessing of “Hatov U’Meitiv” [G-d is good and bestows goodness] was established. It was the day on which the Temple custodians would cease cutting wood for the altar pyre. At that point the days began getting shorter and the nights longer [hence the sun had less strength to dry the wood]. Longer nights allowed for increased Torah study, thereby prolonging one’s life (Ta’anit 31, Rashi).
It follows that this day is one of good beginnings and great hope for the community and the individual. This is why these days were festivals and days of great rejoicing for Israel, and so shall they be in the future:
“G-d is going to have dancing for the righteous while He sits amongst them in Eden, and every one of them will point with his finger, as it says, ‘It shall be said on that day, lo, this is our G-d. We have waited for Him to save us. This is the L-rd. We have waited for Him. We will be glad and rejoice in His salvation’ (Isaiah 25:9).” (Ta’anit 31b)
Today, despite all the difficulties and complications, we must make an effort and strengthen ourselves, we must take counsel and persevere and constantly remember that in the highest heavens there is One who watches over us. Celebrations and days of rejoicing will once more come to Israel, as it says, “This is the L-rd. We have waited for Him, We will be glad and rejoice in His salvation.”