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Haftarah: Machar Chodesh: Beyond By on

Tu B’Av 5772-Part One

Transcribed by: Transcription for Everyone: I’m going to begin by reading a Gemara to you from Taanis, at the end of Taanis.  It’s on lamed amud beis, 30b.  And then I would like to give you my read of this Gemara and what it is that the Gemara was attempting to do — and actually, I believe they gave us the key to two very important things of how to take advantage of the 15th of Av, Tu b’Av.


So the Gemara begins by discussing what it said in the final mishna in Taanis, which was, Amar Rabbi Shimon ben Gamliel; lo hayu yamim tovim l’Yisroel k’chamisha asar b’Av o ch’Yom Ha’kippurim.  There were no days, no yom tov — it doesn’t say days of celebration.  There were no holidays or festivals for the Jewish people that compared to the 15th of Av and to Yom Kippur, because it was on this day that all the single women who were of eligible age, at least 12 or more, would borrow clothes from each other — so that no one could say I can afford a better wardrobe than can you, and they would go out dancing, and each one would sing her own praises.

They would say; look at beauty.  Another one would say, no, a woman’s not for beauty, you should look at her middos.  Another women who didn’t have an exemplary character or was not especially beautiful would say, no, look at family.  A woman who didn’t have any of those would find something else to say about herself, which is a whole interesting discussion anyway, but it’s not for now.

So the two days that single women would go out to grab a mate or to be grabbed by a mate were Yom Kippur, and we’ve explained that many times why this is so appropriate for Yom Kippur, and the 15th of Av.  What’s the matter?

Audience Member: Yom Kippur?

Rav Simcha Weinberg: Yeah.  We’ve explained it many times in this house.  You see what happens?  You lose too much weight and you forget your learning.  It’s very good to happen.  As the Gemara says about Rebbe Yochanan, who was enormously fat, because really good-looking men are fat (laughter).

So now the Gemara — obviously it’s a little strange.  Naftali, for some reason, is bothered by the fact that women would go out on Yom Kippur to do it, because Yom Kippur’s always associated with tznius and yet this is not how we would define tznius or not how other people would define tznius.  But the really big question that the Gemara asks is bishlama Yom Ha’kippurim — we can understand why women would go out dancing on Yom Kippur.  It’s because it is a day of forgiveness and atonement.  It is the day on which the second luchos were given.  So obviously it’s a fantastic day, so therefore it’s only appropriate that it be a day of great rejoicing, and what better way to rejoice than to get married?  Because the whole point of going out and getting a shidduch and planning you wedding is this sense of expectation, which is what Yom Kippur is.

Yom Kippur is a day of expectation, which is why we have the custom of treating the day of the chuppa as Yom Kippur.  That’s why you say the Al Chet, that’s why you fast.  It is a miniature Yom Kippur, because it is the day of expectation.  Right, now that you have been forgiven for your past, or now that it’s the day that the second luchos were given — but we’re not talking about Yom Kippur.

What the Gemara wants to know — why would you have the 15th of Av be such a major holiday?  Obviously the question is not only why would you have a holiday or festival on the 15th of Av — it’s not just the festival.  It’s a festival that the Mishna is equating with Yom Kippur.  So whatever reason you’re going to have to give us for celebrating on the 15th of Av will have to be something that’s so compelling that you would equate it with the joy of Yom Kippur.  And we all know that Yom Kippur is not a heavy day, oy oy oy, like this, but it is actually a day of tremendous rejoicing.  Hopefully that’s what you all experience every year, but why would the 15th of Av be a festival, and why a festival of such significance that it would be compared to Yom Kippur?

So there are a number of opinions.  The first opinion is that if you recall in Parshat Pinchas, five women, five sisters, came to Moshe when they were counting the Jewish people, because as they were counting the Jewish people in the portion of Pinchas, they actually were beginning the process of dividing up the Land of Israel.  And one man who had left Egypt and had died — his name was Tzlofcha — his daughters felt that he should have a portion in the Land of Israel, because this was a statement that anyone who left Egypt would go to Israel — wasn’t that your promise G-d?  You said I would take you out of Egypt, bring you to Israel.

So they went and they demanded their process, they demanded their hearing, and when they were not satisfied with the lower court they went to a higher court and a higher court.  They also had a newsletter about it.  They came to Moshe.  Moshe goes, I don’t know.  And so he goes to G-d, G-d says, wow, what a good question.  It never occurred to me!  Think about it, okay.  So if a man dies and he leaves only daughters, she and they inherit his portion in the Land of Israel.  Okay.

So the other tribes, they’re not satisfied with — the rest of the Tribe of Menashe is not satisfied with G-d’s ruling.  Because they said well, they’re women.  What happens if they marry someone from outside the tribe?  So then you’re going to have part of our land, our shevet, our tribe’s land going — and then it will go to their husbands’ and we’re going to lose it from our portion in the Land of Israel.  So G-d says, wow, you’re right.  Okay, they can’t marry anyone else from another tribe.  They can only marry in their tribe.  And therefore, they made a law that women can only marry within their own tribe, if, you know, they’re holding property or land, and so on and so forth.

So now you had an established precedent in the Jewish people that tribes stay within their own.  At the end of last week’s parsha — I’m sorry, two weeks ago — you had the tribes saying, nu, we don’t need this anymore.  Once the Land of Israel is divided, so then each tribe has its established portion.  You don’t need this law.  So G-d says oh, okay, fine.  So now the tribes can marry again.  And it was such that upon the day on which G-d issued this ruling allowing members of one tribe to marry members of another tribe was the 15th of Av.  It’s fantastic, and it expresses the unity of the Jewish people and how we can all marry each other, and it’s fantastic and it’s wonderful, and it’s as exciting as Yom Kippur, right?

Okay, if you’re convinced, that’s what happens when you’re too thin, right (laughter)?  I don’t know.  Somehow to say that that’s equal to the day of forgiveness and atonement and equal to the day in which we got the second luchos — I don’t know, it’s a little hard, but let’s see. 

Next.  When we go back in detail I’ll let you argue, okay?  Not you.  Then they had to find a way, a word in the pasuk when G-d issued the original ruling, and because they found a word it gave them an opening and they decided on their own that G-d’s ruling was over.  They decided this on their own.  That’s one opinion.

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