The Fifteenth of Av (Hamishah 'Asar be-Av) was a time of rejoicing and a popular festival in Second Temple Times. According to the Talmud, on this day eligible maidens dressed themselves in borrowed white garments (so that the poorer girls would not feel shamed) and went out to dance in the vineyards; young men would attend the vineyards, and select their wives from among the girls.[1] The Fifteenth of Av is also referred to as Tu be-Av: "Tu" is the combination of the Hebrew letters tet and vav, whose numerical value is together fifteen.

The day was probably originally a nature festival - the last day (at the climax of the solar heat) of bringing wood to the Temple altar. The Talmud offers other explanations for the source of this day, among them the anniversary of the day the tribes were first permitted to intermarry or when the dead of the battle at Betar could finally be buried after the Bar Kokhba Revolt.[2]


footnotes [1] Babylonian Talmud Ta'anit 4:8 [Back]
[2] Babylonian Talmud Ta'anit 30b-31a. [Back]



Subscribe to the JHOM mailing list for updates.

Contact us

Tell a friend