Beyond the Three Weeks
The month of Av brings with it forgiveness similar to the experience of Yom Kippur.
Rediscovering Joy After Tisha B'Av
Tu B'Av provides a contrast of joyous celebration following the ever-deepening gloom and mourning of the Three Weeks. Coming seven days after Tisha B'Av, Tu B'Av symbolically serves as the end of the shiva—the seven days of mourning for the dead. Just as the mourner ends shiva on the morning of the seventh day, so may we cast off the blackness of despair and go out of our house of mourning wearing white and dancing and courting in the fields as did the maidens of old in Israel.
From Tu B'Av we are ready to move on to Elul, a prelude to the High Holiday season with its themes of renewal and return. In fact, the period of Elul embodies a process of courtship between us and God. This theme of courtship is captured in the traditional belief that the Hebrew letters of the word Elul are an abbreviation for the phrase Ani le-dodi ve-dodi li—"Iam my beloved's, and my beloved is mine," referring to God and Israel. Estranged from each other during the Three Weeks, Israel and God rediscover each other beginning with Tu B'Av and initiate the slow and at times painful process of becoming lovers again. This process climaxes with Yom Kippur, when we are forgiven for that original breach of faith, the incident of the golden calf, which began this whole process of mourning and renewing on the 17th of Tammuz.
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