The Jewish Chronicle - - JUDAISM - RABBI JU­LIAN SIN­CLAIR

TU B’Av, the fif­teenth day of the month of Av, is a sort of Jewish Valen­tine’s Day. The Tal­mud de­scribes it as, to­gether with Yom Kip­pur, the most joy­ful day in the Jewish cal­en­dar — a provoca­tive pair­ing (Ta’anit 30b). On Tu b’Av the maid­ens of Is­rael went out to the fields to dance and find a match. This pro­to­type was the source for the Tu b’Av sin­gles events re­plete with ro­man­tic din­ners, par­ties, scat­tered rose petals, heart-shaped bal­loons, sun­sets, moon­rises and soft mu­sic that abound to­day.

One in­ter­est­ing de­tail of the an­cient Tu b’Av dance as de­scribed in the Tal­mud was that the girls swapped dresses be­fore­hand. Switch­ing clothes soft­ens the po­ten­tial edge of com­pet­i­tive­ness in the dance, lev­els the ad­van­tages of wealth and hides the em­bar­rass­ment of those who had no party clothes. It rep­re­sents a kind of democrati­sa­tion of de­sire, break­ing down the con­nec­tions be­tween clothes, sta­tus and our sense of who we are.

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