The Fifteenth of Av
AV, THE FIFTEENTH OF (Heb. ט״וּ בְּאָב, Tu be-Av), minor holiday in the days of the Second Temple, marking the beginning of the vintage in ancient Palestine. According to the Mishnah, on this day (as well as on the
*Day of Atonement
) the daughters of Jerusalem dressed in white raiments (which they borrowed that "none should be abashed which had them not") and went forth to dance in the vineyards chanting songs (Ta'an. 4:8; TB, ibid. 31a). This was also the day of the wood offering when all people brought kindling wood for the Temple altar (see: Neh. 10:35). This festival was instituted by the Pharisees who, according to Graetz, celebrated their victory over the Sadducees on this day (Graetz, Gesch, 3 (19605), 460, 572). Josephus, however, gives the 14th of Av as the date of this holiday (Wars, 2:6). The Talmud (Ta'an. 30b–31a; BB 121a, b; TJ, Ta'an. 4:11, 69c) gives six more events that occurred on this date as reasons for this minor holiday: (1) the tribes were allowed to intermarry (Num. 36:8 ff.); (2) the Benjamites were readmitted into the community (Judg. 21:18 ff.); (3) the death of the Israelites in the Sinai Desert for their sin regarding the report of the spies to Canaan ceased (Num. 14:32); (4) the last king of the Israelite kingdom,
*Hosea b. Elah
, removed the checkposts which
installed to prevent the Israelites from making their pilgrimage to Jerusalem (I Kings 12:29; II Kings 18:4); (5) the Romans permitted the burial of the soldiers who fell in the defense of Bar Kokhba's last stronghold,
and (6) from this day onward no more wood was chopped for the Temple because the sun was no longer strong enough to dry it. Since this holiday was celebrated by torches and bonfires some scholars believe that it originated in a pagan festival of the summer solstice (such as the 15th of Shevat which falls on the day of winter solstice). On Av the Fifteenth the
prayer is omitted and there are no eulogies at burials.
J.T. Lewinski (ed.), Sefer ha-Mo'adim, 6 (1956), 481–531; Gutmann, Mafte'ah, S.V. "Av-"; ET, S.V. "Av-"; L. Finkelstein, The Pharisees, 1 (1946), 54–56.
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