Tu Be’Av – The Holiday of Love

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Tu Be’Av and Kabbalah

Tu (15th) Be’Av (in the month of Leo) is known as the holiday of love in the ancient Hebrew/Biblical Calendar, and the question is why? What is the basis for this amorous distinction?

Rabbi Haim Vital, in his book, Pri Ets Haim, explained that the day’s special powers and bliss are expressed in the perfect spiritual coupling, between the upper and lower worlds – between the world we experience with our five senses and the world beyond our five senses.

The Sun – male power

Astrologically speaking, the sun symbolizes the spiritual world, male power, wealth and sharing. The sun also symbolizes physical abundance in the earthly sphere. As we know, with the sun’s warmth, everything grows and thrives. The month of Av (Leo) is controlled by the sun and it is the midsummer month. The peak of the power of every Zodiac sign, according to the Hebrew calendar, occurs on the full moon – the middle day of the month, Tu Be’Av (The 15th day of Av – Leo) therefore is the day that the sun reaches its yearly high power peak.

The Moon – female power

The Moon, according to Kabbalah, symbolizes the female side, the Divine Presence, which represents the “desire to receive”, The Creation, and Humanity. The moon has no light of its own. It can only reflect the sunlight. The female side of The Creation therefore does not have its own light, but only the Light of The Creator that can be revealed through her. This Light can be revealed when working with love, compassion, creativity, overcoming our robotic patterns of behavior and while giving to others.

The Lunar cycle is 29 day and a half, and the day of full moon is the peak of its cycle. It is not a coincident that the Lunar cycle (the female side) corresponds to the woman’s cycle.

A Perfect Cosmic Union

On Tu Be’Av the perfect union takes place. The sun and the moon’s energy merge beautifully when they are both at their peak – the union between the male and female forces of the Universe combines seamlessly, representing the Creator and Creation. This perfect cosmic match brings a special force to the world – the power of love.

What is love?

There is a famous story about a new student who asked Rabbi Akiva to teach him the entire Torah while standing on one leg. Rabbi Akiva’s reply was to “love thy neighbor” (Leviticus, 19:18), that is the essence and the general rule of the Torah.

Rabbi Ashlag, the founder of modern Kabbalah asks what the connection is between the Torah and the observance of “Love your neighbor …”? And he tells us the secret. The only way we can connect to the energy of fulfillment (which is what we all ultimately want), God energy, is for us to change and improve ourselves in the direction of being more Godlike. Which means; sharing more, caring more, being more compassionate and endlessly loving (just to name a few Godlike qualities). This cannot be done in a vacuum, however, it is only possible for us to transform when we exercise and improve the quality of our character through our personal relationships. In this realm we have repeated opportunities to learn, to practice, to stumble and grow. Human relationships are the most efficient ways for us to learn to be sensitive and attentive to what is happening outside of us. Only when we learn to love people as they are (unconditional love), then and only then, can we learn to love and connect with The Creator, for then we will have true affinity with our Creator. Only when we get out of our selfish nature, can we connect to the infinite nature of the Creator’s Light, then we can connect to the true fulfillment we seek; love, success, happiness, satisfaction and confidence. This, according to Rabbi Ashlag’s method, is the only purpose of the Torah and its precepts.

The Secret of One

The word “love” in Hebrew has the numerical value 13, which is the same numerical value of the word “one”. This means, true love exists only among people with some unity and affinity between them. “Unity” does not mean uniformity. Our body parts are different, there is no uniformity among them, yet “Health” is a condition in which there is complete harmony and unity among the various organs. They complement and support each other regardless of how different each individual organ is.

When different people learn to relate to each other’s differences with love, this becomes an integral part of completing them, unifying them as one. This can happen only after a lot of hard work – learning and training oneself to be sensitive and to listen to each other. This creates the ultimate unity and teamwork.

The sages teach that all the abundance, blessing and protection that we’re looking for come from God’s powers. Therefore the goal of Torah study and the precepts is to attach to God and that can happen only when we reach the level of “love thy neighbor”, and only then can we connect to all the good awaiting us from the dawn of creation.


The Love Between a Man and a Woman

The Holy Ari notes that the love between a man and a woman is the most effective school for practicing and perfecting “love thy neighbor”. There is no relationship more demanding than this for the transformation that is necessary to take place to live in “love they neighbor” consciousness. Being together frequently sets the stage for listening, flexibility, sensitivity training and this happens over many years. When spouses realize that marriage is a means to improve personally and spiritually in a mutually intensive training arena, there is a real chance of true/soul love growing over time. It is a recipe for disaster when one partner enters the relationship with the goal of taking all the time and giving as little as possible.

On Tu Be’Av, which is a day with the unique quality of connecting in harmony, the power of giving (from the power of the sun) and the power of receiving (moon), we can connect with the energy of true harmony and true love. It is a day when life is good.

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