Tu B’av is one of the happiest days in the Jewish calendar. Mishna Taanit teaches:
“Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel said: There were no days as joyous for the Jewish people as the fifteenth of Av and as Yom Kippur, as on them the daughters of Jerusalem would go out in white clothes, which each woman borrowed from another. Why were they borrowed? They did this so as not to embarrass one who did not have her own white garments.”
The gemara expands on the comment that all the women wore borrowed garments, and says that the daughter of a king would borrow from the daughter of the high priest, the daughter of the high priest would borrow from the daughter of a priest anointed for war, etc. While the holiday is ostensibly about romantic love, just as much ink is spilled in describing the practice of borrowing white clothes as about actually finding a match. The customs of Tu B’av extend beyond facilitating matches – they teach us how to build a society of liberation from shame, love, and mutual caring.
Our tradition centers the need to protect each person’s dignity. It teaches that we are all responsible for building a community that lifts up rather than shames others. Loving ourselves is a crucial foundation for forming relationships with others, and our communities can play a vital role in helping us learn to practice that self-love.
This Tu B’av, let’s celebrate the many different kinds of love that make us feel whole and tie us together – including our families, our friends, and the love and pride we feel in ourselves.