Happy Tu B’Av from Jewrotica!

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Dear Readers,

Rated PG-13 Tis the season of love! This week we celebrated Tu B’Av, a modern day of Jewish romance, courtship and matchmaking.

The holiday’s historical roots, as recorded in the Tanach, are a bit less pristine and involve a borderline violent arrangement that diffused tension between the dueling tribes of Benjamin and Levi. But, as time passed, the day was marked with increasing joy and celebration and even the Talmud records the tradition of unmarried Jewish women donning white dresses and dancing in the vineyards.

In the spirit of the holiday, we wish you a marvelous Tu B’Av, offer the following thoughts and invite you to share with us your responses to the question below:

What is true romance and / or what does Tu B’Av mean to you?

Ayo Oppenheimer

Ayo Oppenheimer

The original context of Tu B’Av, as referenced above, speaks to taking a poor situation and working creatively to solve it. Though Tu B’Av is currently framed as a love holiday, it is also about the importance of shalom bayit and it highlights the power of love to mend rivalries between bickering tribes.

As for the first part of the question, true romance is in the small gestures. There is a concept of people having different “love languages”, the ways in which love is expressed and received. I suppose that my love language is action, not speech. True romance is not about flowers or poetry, but about seeing your partner, understanding who they are and taking small and regular actions to cater to their likes and dislikes, bringing small moments of joy. True romance is the culmination of those gestures that say “I know you, I see you and I love you”, thereby making all other words redundant and unnecessary.

David Abitbol

David Abitbol

Tu B’Av came about, at least in part, after some pretty horrific circumstances involving attempted rape, death by rape, dismemberment, the near annihilation of the tribe of Benjamin by the other tribes, the utter destruction of the inhabitants of Jabesh Gilead and the rendering of their remaining virgin daughters to the remnants of the Tribe of Benjamin in a process devoid of any notion of consent. This is definitely one of the bloodiest, goriest and most bizarre chapters in the history of the children of Israel – and here we are celebrating it like it’s a Jewish Valentine’s Day, as it is often billed, a Festival of Love.

And yet it is. Tu B’Av was one of the most joyous celebrations. Unmarried maidens would wear white and frolic in the fields in front of unmarried men seeking a wife. And what advice was given to the men? “Young man, lift up your eyes and choose wisely. Don’t look only at physical beauty – look rather at the family – ‘For charm is false, and beauty is vanity. A G-d – fearing woman is the one to be praised…’ (“Mishlei”/Proverbs 31:30)”

So what does this tell us, well… me at least, about true romance? It tells me that love may not always make sense. At its best, it unleashes a mysterious synergistic force that takes two bodies and unites them into one, but that one united entity is possessed of more power than existed prior to the union. It drives us to distraction and inspires both the loftiest sentiments and the basest urges. True romance is a challenge – we are challenged to transcend the obvious and elevate the mundane. We are challenged to seek true beauty and create lasting love. Hopefully we won’t need to massacre or dismember anyone in the process.

Emma Morris

Emma Morris

A love (or rather, lust) scene in Dirty Di’s latest Holiday Indulgence installment featuring Tu B’Av inspired me to answer this week’s question.

“It is believed that on this day, mystical, enigmatic forces orchestrate lovers to meet,” the mysterious Israeli lover says to the protagonist, Malka, “Love is the ultimate surrender.”

The story also relates that Tu B’Av falls on a full moon. Because the Hebrew calendar is lunar, the full or new moons often mark the holidays (e.g. Rosh Hashanah always falls on a new moon). The moon has mythic, erotic and feminine qualities – and the lunar calendar infuses Judaism with those qualities.

I’ve always been drawn to mystical, enigmatic forces – so I tend to gravitate toward the numinous/astrological/fortuitous when considering relationships past and present (one of my favorite reference books is Gary Goldschneider’s “The Secret Language of Relationships“). These “mystical/enigmatic forces” are often reduced to good timing, rapport, chemistry – whatever you want to call them. But when you really click with someone, when there really is “true romance,” I’d like to believe there’s more at work beneath the surface than simply hitting it off at the right time. Perhaps true romance is a surrender to these forces.

I guess this is a pretty roundabout way of answering the question, but my idea of true romance is something suffused with myth and fate and cosmic forces (true romance also manifests for me when a certain someone tirelessly translates my mystical rambling into something slightly more coherent!).

Leora Flax

Leora Flax

True romance happens when the person who you’re with fits into all the parts of your life – when you have an amazing time whether you’re on a romantic getaway or doing the dishes. You respect your partner’s needs in life and it satisfies you to satisfy them.

For me, there’s nothing so intimate or romantic as the feeling that I belong and fit into someone’s life. I sometimes worry that my spirituality makes it harder for me to achieve this sense of mutual belonging. Finding someone who respects my religious choices and wants to celebrate faith in the same ways as me has been really challenging. That’s what makes Tu B’Av important and special to me–I get to celebrate my faith and my love at the same time, and recognize the value of a life where the two can come together.

Mara Yacobi

Mara Yacobi

The meaning of true romance is a great question to ponder! Our culture is constantly telling us through music, advertisements, and movies what “romance” ought to look like, which usually includes a recipe of flowers, chocolate, fine dining, and long walks on the beach. The website dictionary.com actually defines “romance” as a baseless, made-up story, usually full of exaggeration! When we take the time to look beyond superficial romance, we remember that romance is about expressing our affection and our “willingness to sacrifice for one’s beloved,” as stated by Rabbi Michael Gold. To me, true romance is the unwavering emotional bond two people share regardless of their relationship status. So, whether you are single or coupled, on this Tu B’Av, tell the special someone in your life just how much you love them . . . and exactly what you would sacrifice to let them know how much you care!

Dr. Limor

Dr. Limor

What’s love got to do with it? What’s love but a second hand emotion..

Damn, she was right, Diva Turner, right there… What is our fascination with L’Amour as human beings? Or are we really aware that we are constantly ‘faux pas-ing’ the mere meaning of love with its iniquitous counterpart, also known as Lust?… Oh my!

I think that love, true love, is one that is honestly nourished by all that is good. You may ask ‘what in God’s name does THAT mean now?’ I’ll explain: Love, in its pure nature, should encompass caring, pure caring, with no hidden agendas. And it should be something that clearly can be shared with others, plural, everywhere, at all times. We expect a mother to love all her children equally, but we expect our ‘lover’ to love us only…hypocrisy anyone?

As I mentioned, we all sin to confusing love with lust, when one is infinite and the latter is very limited and in constant need of fueling with the rare resources of novelty and variety.. Gas up, people! I call bullshit!

You can love for eternity, but for God’s sake, stay inspired and…well..thirsty. It is, after all, your joie de vivre, your life nectar. And to simplify things I would say: We should love, not fall in love, because everything that falls gets broken! Happy Tu B’Av, lovers! Kisskiss.


Light and Love,
Ayo Oppenheimer - Final Version of Signature and the Jewrotica Team

Founder and editor of Jewrotica, Ayo spent the past two years full-time RVing North America with her Jewish educational film program. Ayo alternates between intensely pursuing fun new experiences and equally intensely trying to do good by people. She would love to hear from you.

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