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Tu B'Av

Rejoicing in a Month of Misfortune - Part 2

by Rabbi Yehudah Prero

In the last post, we started to discuss the six reasons the Gemora lists for why the 15th of Av is a day of happiness, as the Mishna says "There is no day as festive as the 15th of Av...." We pick up in this issue with the fourth reason offered.

The fourth reason the Gemora mentions is that Ula. He said that the wicked king Yerovom ben Nevat ( the first king of the Kingdom of Israel, [as opposed to the kingdom of Judah,] after King Sh'lomo) had placed sentries on the road leading to the Temple, to prevent the Jews from going to the Temple on the holidays. This was an attempt to get the Jews to worship idols. On the 15th of Av, the king Hoshea ben Elah (a king from the Kingdom of Israel, approximately the 18th after Yerovom), removed these sentries, allowing the Jews to once again have access to the Temple and to serve Hashem - hence, a cause for celebration.

The fifth reason is that offered by Rav Masnah. As we mentioned in YomTov # 31, on the 9th of Av, the inhabitants of the city of Betar were killed. Throughout the entire reign of Hadrian, the burial of these people was forbidden. The corpses, although they all lay exposed, miraculously did not decompose. Finally, years later on the 15th of Av, the bodies were buried, and given the proper respect due to them

The final reason mentioned is that of Rabba and Rav Yosef. In the time of the Temple, wood was collected throughout the year for use on the altar. The wood used had to be free of worms. One way of ensuring that the wood was "worm-free" was to let the wood dry out, and worms only inhabit moist wood. The wood that was collected for the altar was sun dried, to assure that it would be fit for use. On the 15th of Av each year, they stopped gathering wood. This is because as of this date, the heat of the sun is inadequate to sufficiently dry out freshly cut wood, and therefore it would be difficult to assure that the wood would be fit for use on the altar. As the 15th of Av marked the completion of the performance of this Mitzvah, it was proclaimed a festive occasion.


Check out all of the posts on The Three Weeks: 17 Tammuz - 9 Av Mourning the Destruction. Head over to http://www.torah.org/learning/yomtov/ to access the YomTov Page. Then click on the icon for the holiday of your choice.


For questions, comments, and topic requests, please write to Rabbi Yehudah Prero.


 

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