A Word on Love

A Word on Love

From the desk of Rabbi David Lyon

This Shabbat is called “Shabbat Nachamu,” or the Sabbath of Comfort. It’s so-called because it comes after the observance of Tisha B’Av (9th of Av) when we remember the destruction of the Temples in Jerusalem and other disasters in Jewish history. Shabbat Nachamu, the Sabbath of Comfort, includes a passage from Isaiah 40, which provides hopefulness that flows from God’s comfort, including the promise that “Jerusalem’s suffering is over” (Isaiah 40:2). Moreover, an ancient holiday that ended with the destruction of the Second Temple in 70CE, has emerged in modern Israel, called Tu B’Av (15th of Av), a day of love.

Though the observance of Tu B’Av fell away after the destruction of the Temple, it found a new place in modern Israel, a land bursting and flourishing with opportunity, prosperity, and love. From its ancient origins, we learn that Tu B’Av was a day when young love went seeking young love. The date is significant, because the middle of the month is a full moon, and the full moon, some say, awakens human desires and passions.

The celebration of Tu B’Av in modern Israel is a statement about the times Jews are living in, today. Our 2000-year exile is over and the celebration of Tu B’Av is a reason to find love in Israel, not loneliness in exile; hope in Israel’s potential, not despair in the Temple’s destruction; and life in the future, not death in the past. Anyone who has been to Israel, or has hoped for Israel, will agree that there’s much to learn from Israel’s past and its struggles, then and now, and no reason to delay the celebration of love any longer.

Growing up in America, Tu B’Av wasn’t a Jewish holiday that I observed or knew much about, and I suspect that neither did you. More likely, we celebrated Valentine’s Day. Though it’s a Christian holiday, like Halloween, Valentine’s Day has become a secular experience and most everyone celebrates it. To be honest, in my house, we exchange cards on Valentine’s Day, though, as many of you know, I creatively alter my cards to become “Valenstein’s Day” cards. They’re not any more authentic in a Jewish home, but they have a nice ring to them.

If you are in Israel, today, or choose to celebrate the holiday in America, how would you observe Tu B’Av (15the day of Av), which falls on Friday, August 12th? Don’t rush to find Tu B’Av cards in stores or even online, but there are still creative ways to express love, to seek love, and, at best, to find love this week. And don’t worry if you’re a day or two late; we waited more than 2000 years to celebrate again. What’s another day?

In a world that’s healing in many places, perhaps Tu B’Av has arrived just on time for us, this year. With best wishes for love, and love remembered, today and always.


A Word on Love 3