Rosh Hodesh Av
By Rabbi Ezra Labaton ZS”L
Although Rosh Hodesh is viewed as a holiday in all other contexts, Rosh Hodesh Av is viewed very differently. It introduces us to a period of intense mourning. Most of us are fully aware of the implications when Rosh Hodesh Av is announced. In a word, we prepare ourselves for a week of historical reflection, personal introspection and mourning.
Yet not everybody is aware that on Rosh Hodesh Av, we commemorate as well the passing of Aaron, brother of Moshe Rabenu. Additionally, not everybody is aware that our commemoration of Tisha B’Av is rooted in the biblical verse, Zecharia 8:19. Here, the navi notes that the fast of the fifth month though a day of sadness now, shall eventually be observed as a holiday. Further, not everyone is aware that this day of mourning commemorates the fall of Bar Kokhva’s fortress at Betar and the expulsion of Jews from Spain.
Yet, despite all of the above, Av is also a month to rejoice. The fifteenth day of Av was a popular holiday known as Hamisha Asar b’Av, where Jewish marriage was celebrated. The young Jewish women would dress in white (signifying purity) and invite the young men into a mutual relationship of love. Interestingly, the very month of destruction, encourage and celebrates Jewish renewal and the rebirth of our nation. We take comfort in knowing, that despite the tragedies that have overwhelmed us, we still survive and flourish as a Jewish Nation. May this year’s Hamisha Asar b’Av give birth to many weddings.