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Rabbi's Weekly Message

Rabbi wexler - thursday, august 15

According to the Jewish calendar, today we stand at a crossroads. Behind us are the three weeks of mourning leading to Tisha B’Av (the 9th of the month of Av), the saddest day of the Jewish calendar. In front of us lie the seven weeks of consolation, leading up to Rosh Hashanah, the joyous new year. This Shabbat is the bridge between these two extremes. It is Shabbat Nachamu, named after the beginning of this week’s Haftarah in which the Prophet Isaiah proclaims: “Nachamu, nachamu -- comfort, oh comfort My people, says your God,” (Isaiah 40:1). We move from destruction and sadness to comfort and consolation.

But even before we turn to the comfort provided by this Shabbat, we first turn to love. This Thursday night (tonight) and Friday are Tu B’Av (the 15th of Av). According to the Mishnah, Tu B’Av is a festival of love that dates back to ancient Israel when the daughters of Jerusalem “danced in the vineyards” and matches were made (Taanit 4:8). In Israel, Tu B’Av is a busy day, filled with summer weddings, musical performances, and celebrations.

But the 15th of Av is far more than a summer love festival. In Jewish tradition, Tu B’Av is also a day of comfort, healing, and redemption. According to rabbinic literature, on Tu B’Av the punishment of the generation of the desert was lifted and the years of wandering came to an end.

Tu B’Av also sets the stage for Jewish unity and the elimination of the barriers that divide us as a people. It was the day the tribes of Israel were permitted to marry outside their specific tribe (Taanit 30b). Fast forward to today, and the message of unity and love certainly continue to ring important and necessary.

It is up to us to reclaim and revitalize Tu B’Av for our times. Whether it is simply hugging a friend or relative, telling someone we love them, helping a neighbor, or reaching out to those in need, let us celebrate Tu B’Av, together and in doing so, may we bring more hope and more light into our world.

Shabbat Shalom.

Wed, August 21 2019 20 Av 5779