Tu b’Av 5772 Part Two
Transcribed by: Transcription for Everyone: Next opinion is that this is the generation of the pilegesh b’Giva. Are you all familiar with the story of pilegesh b’Giva, the concubine at Giva? Okay, you’ve got to know. You don’t know this story — you got to know this. That’s why I keep on saying, there’s this great book. It’s called Tanach, and it’s been a bestseller for years, even though they won’t put it on the New York Times’ bestseller list. It’s got everything including sex, so, it goes in our generation.
So the story, very quickly, is that a man was traveling through a city. He was traveling back. He had had a very rough time, not with his wife, but with his concubine. It could be he had a rough time with her because he found a hair in his soup, and you know what that will do to a man. Another version of the Gemara is that he found a different colored hair in certain private areas of her body and it wasn’t his hair color so he was wondering where she got it. You know how a guy can be, so he got a little upset. He sent her home, and he misses her. You know how it is with a concubine. You miss her.
And so he went to pick her up from her daddy’s house and everything was great, but her daddy was very concerned that there not be any more of this tension. He really did not want his daughter to come back in humiliation again. And so her daddy made this huge feast and everything to make his — I don’t know if you call it a son-in-law when it’s just a concubine, but you know, his son-in-law happy and by the time the party ended it was so late, they had to stay overnight.
Nu, so you stay in your in-laws’ house. I guess if your girl, your woman is only a concubine it’s even worse with your in-laws than if you’re — maybe not, I don’t know. Okay, next day, he’s going to leave and her father says no, no, no! Don’t leave, I need to feed you. And he makes this huge party. He makes this big barbecue in his house with all sorts of Cocoa Pebble Treats and everything, and ice creams and barbecue, and everything. And so by the time the party is over it’s too late to leave.
Now I don’t know how many marriages can survive two nights in your in-laws house, especially if she’s a concubine — but he had to sleep overnight, and so he stays until the third day, and on the third day he leaves, despite the fact that there’s another big party, another big barbecue — not quite a Salve Barbecue, but there’s this huge party and he decides he’s got to get out of here or never go home.
So on his way he stops at a city that belonged to the Tribe of Benjamin. It was called Giva. And he’s stopped in the middle of the city. It’s late. There are no hotels, no Motel 6, nothing. So he’s sitting there in the middle of the city and people just walk by and they ignore him. Mo one invites him in, no one asks what he’s doing. Finally a sole guy comes over to them, he goes, what are you doing here in the middle of the street? Do you have any idea how dangerous it is in this neighborhood? And he said, what do you mean? This is a frum neighborhood. He said, exactly, do you have any idea how dangerous it is for you to be here (laughter)?
So he takes him in. He says, you’ve got to come to my house, and the guy offers to pay him, so on and so forth. They go inside, they take care of the animals, they lock the door, and they have a nice meal. And soon there’s banging on the doors and banging on the windows, and the house is surrounded by the people of the city. And they say, send out that guy, we want to have a little talk with him — a little intimate exploration of the guy. And so the host said, well, he’s my guest. They said no, and so they’re banging and there’s violence. What do you do if you’re under threat like that? Just like the story of Sodom and Gomorrah — and there are numerous parallels. So what do you do if you’re in a situation like that? It’s dangerous, it’s terrifying. You take your concubine, you throw her out the door, right? That’s fine. I mean she’s only a concubine, come on.
So he throws her out and she is ravaged in every possible way. There are women here, I don’t want to say, but she is ravaged in every possible way all night. He opens the door in the morning because he wants to leave. And there she is, collapsed on the ground and he looks at her and goes, nu, let’s go. And he’s a nice, loving — I don’t know what you call the male part of the concubine relationship — and she looks at him and she dies. And he’s incensed — this is the way Jews act? And he didn’t do anything wrong, obviously. So he takes her body and cuts it up into 12 pieces and mails a piece to each one of the tribes of Israel and says, this is what happened in Giva.
Well, the Jews are incensed. How could we allow such a terrible thing to happen? So they amass a huge army to attack Giva, this one city. But the Tribe of Benjamin says, no, you cannot attack our city. They said, no, you can’t allow such a thing to continue, and we’ll crush you. We have hundreds of thousands of soldiers and you have nothing, so we’re just going to crush you. The Tribe of Benjamin says no. They go to battle the first day, and the Tribe of Benjamin wins, and they’re outnumbered 10 to one, and they won.
Second day — go to battle, and the Tribe of Benjamin goes again, and they win. Third day — they ask G-d, they ask the question properly, and this time the rest of Israel wins. A total of 70,000 people died in this story — 70,000. And they were so angry with the men of Benjamin, they wiped them out. They wiped out Benjamin. There was nothing left except for 600 men who went into hiding. And all of those who fought took an oath that they would never allow a man from Benjamin to marry one of their daughters. It’s the end of the Tribe of Benjamin.
A little while later, it’s not so good. They realize we can’t afford to lose one of the Tribes of Israel. There are supposed to be 12 tribes, and even though there are 13, but we’ll call it 12, because Joseph is two tribes — but you know, Jews and mathematics, and so on and so forth, but it’s still not a good thing. But what do you do? Well there was one city called Yavesh Gilad that had not participated in the war. So they needed to be punished, because they didn’t join the rest of the tribes in fighting Benjamin, and because they hadn’t fought, they had not taken the oath.
So they took all the single eligible women of Yavesh Gilad and they gave them to some of the survivors of Benjamin. So now you had about 400 men from Benjamin. They found a nice shidduch.
By the way, Yavesh Gilad, the one city that didn’t attack Benjamin, is the first city that is protected by the first King of Israel, Shaul, who is a descendent of Benjamin. In fact, Shaul is one of the 600 survivors of this battle.
They’re still missing 200 women, so they don’t know what to do. We took an oath. So they said, well, if you think about it, we took an oath that we wouldn’t give our daughters to Benjamin. But what if the men of Benjamin grab our daughters? It’s not a problem. It’s not a violation of our oath. And when do Jewish men grab women? Everybody knows there’s a holiday on the 15th of Av when the women go out dancing. So therefore, the 200 men from Benjamin took 200 of the dancing women, and that’s how the Tribe of Benjamin was restored. So therefore the 15th of Av is a day equal to Yom Kippur, because the Tribe of Benjamin was saved, and therefore it’s a holiday.
That’s the second opinion, which is kind of a little contradictory, because — why were the women dancing? Because it was already a holiday — so don’t tell me it became a holiday because — okay, but you know, it’s Talmudic log, what can you do? That’s the second reason.