Let’s begin to understand this special day by examining a major aspect of this day as noted in the Talmud:
Taanit 26b R. SIMEON B. GAMALIEL SAID: THERE NEVER WERE IN ISRAEL GREATER DAYS OF JOY THAN THE FIFTEENTH OF AB AND THE DAY OF ATONEMENT. ON THESE DAYS THE DAUGHTERS OF JERUSALEM USED TO WALK OUT IN WHITE GARMENTS WHICH THEY BORROWED IN ORDER NOT TO PUT TO SHAME ANY ONE WHO HAD NONE. ALL THESE GARMENTS REQUIRED RITUAL DIPPING. THE DAUGHTERS OF JERUSALEM CAME OUT AND DANCED IN THE VINEYARDS EXCLAIMING AT THE SAME TIME, YOUNG MAN, LIFT UP THINE EYES AND SEE WHAT THOU CHOOSEST FOR THYSELF. DO NOT SET THINE EYES ON BEAUTY BUT SET THINE EYES ON [GOOD] FAMILY. GRACE IS DECEITFUL, AND BEAUTY IS VAIN; BUT A WOMAN THAT FEARETH THE LORD, SHE SHALL BE PRAISED. AND IT FURTHER SAYS, GIVE HER OF THE FRUIT OF HER HANDS; AND LET HER WORKS PRAISE HER IN THE GATES.
In the wake of this famous Mishna at the end of Tractate Taanit, there are many who call Tu B’Av, the “Love Festival.” Yet, it would be more appropriate to call it the “Matchmaking Festival,” or perhaps “Choose-Day,” because the girls approach the young men so that they pick the wife of their choice. Obviously, love lurks somewhere in the background; not promiscuous, unrestrained “free-love”, but a pure love that develops between a young man and his single and unique heart’s choice. So, let’s go out on a journey of choice.
Although the Mishnah does not make a clear distinction between Tu B’Av and Yom Kippur, nonetheless, it goes without saying that these two days are significantly different, and allude to two different types of match or “choice”. In familiar terms, matches made on Yom Kippur are more inclined to the traditional “Charedi” standards, a match that is founded primarily on a similarity between the families and their social status, made mainly by the parents, while the young (sometimes very young) couple just has to confirm it at the final stages. Such matches are usually announced on the wedding invitation with the phrase, “the marriage of so-and-so with the girl of his age, so-and-so.” “A girl of his age” refers to his soulmate, who is suited to him and destined to him from Heaven, “Grapes of a vine with grapes of a vine.”
By contrast, the matches of Tu B’Av are a “modern match” (or even “secular”), the young couple find one another, with mutual attraction being a primary incentive for their relationship. This is an attraction that often results from the dissimilarity and difference between the two; “opposites attract”, as the saying goes. On the invitation of a couple such as this, the custom is to write, “So-and-so with his heart’s choice, so-and-so”.