Why Tu B’Av Is Much More Than Just “Jewish Valentine’s Day”

Tu B’Av is the full-moon holiday, a moment when all is illuminated in the fullest expression of the divine feminine symbolized by the moon. On this day, historical events that commemorate triumph for the continuity of the Jewish people are celebrated, from the end of a ban against the tribal intermarriage which threatened the end of the tribe of Benjamin (punishment for a sanctioned gang-rape that had happened years earlier…) to the survival of the last remaining generation who wandered the wilderness following the Egyptian exodus, after a mandated annual death ritual that was miraculously cut short in the final year of desert wanderings. The dance, the full moon, the courtship, the grapes turning to wine and the white-clad maidens of Shiloh—each are essential symbols of redeeming the feminine and bringing her fullest expression, to ensure continuity not just of the Jewish people, but of humanity as a whole.

This year, Tu B’Av takes place on Monday August 7th, the day of a partial lunar eclipse which is followed two weeks later by a complete solar eclipse. Eclipses bring change and transformation, and with the lunar eclipse we are able to reevaluate our relationship with the moon, and all that is represented by the feminine.

According to legend, recounted in the Midrash and analyzed and extrapolated on in Kabbalistic literature, the moon was diminished following her creation on the fourth day in Genesis, bringing with it a world of hierarchy, linear expression and abstraction––and brought all that the feminine represented into second-class status. From the physical earth to emotions and intuition, all were maligned for their sacred essence and turned secondary in favor of a hierarchical, masculine presence. The sacred act of dancing, of transforming fruit into wine and using the human body as a tool for creation and connection are all celebrated on Tu B’Av, while taking secondary status most of the year.

It’s in the act of dancing that we birth ourselves into completion. It’s by returning to the fields that we plug ourselves back into the essence of our being, feeling the sacred earth under our feet, as the dancing maidens crushed the grapes under their feet. It’s in wearing white that we come to terms with our own innate purity, letting go of that which doesn’t serve to be free, dancing in the fields with wild abandon. It’s under the full moon that we come into full expression of our femininity—not just for women, but for all beings who suffer from the trapped nature of the Shechinah, the embodied, Divine feminine presence. It’s through the sanctity of the grape, a fruit that represents potential as it evolves from vine to fruit to juice to wine, bringing with it the potential of internal growth and new perspectives through the hallucinogenic properties of the wine. And it’s in the dance that the integration takes place, embodying these new horizons with a physical act that is the harbinger of the new life to come.

To embody the Divine nature of love, to truly prepare the body for connection with another being, the dance is necessary for becoming a complete container for the Divine. And it’s the women who lead the dance, the maidens who epitomize that freedom as they run through the vineyards, tossing their tresses and laughing off their wine-stained garments. It’s in removing hierarchy and stripping away the lines that divide us that the Divine feminine truly comes back into her fullest power of expression. And it’s in the dance of Tu B’Av that we finally begin to come back to ourselves in a state of ultimate Divine—and human—love.

Rishe Groner is a writer and strategist living in Brooklyn. She is the founder of TheGene-Sis.com, a post-Hasidic embodied approach to self-transformation.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of Lilith Magazine.