|Photo: Priya Kumar, Oman, August 2012|
This year on July 31 - which is also Tu Be'Av [15 Av] - we will have a blue moon.... the second of two full moons in a calendar month is called a Blue Moon - the moon was full on July 2, and it will be full again on July 31. An older definition of Blue Moon is that it’s the third of four full moons in a single season.
A Moon that actually looks blue, however, is a very rare sight and depends on atmospheric particles from a dust storm or erupting volcano.
The 15th of Av is undoubtedly the most mysterious day of the Jewish calendar.
A search of the Shulchan Aruch [Code of Jewish Law] reveals no observances or customs for this date, except for the instruction that the tachanun [confession of sins] and similar portions should be omitted from the daily prayers [as is the case with all festive dates], and that beginning on the 15th of Av one should increase one’s study of Torah, since at this time of the year the nights begin to grow longer, and “the night was created for study.” And the Talmud tells us that many years ago the “daughters of Jerusalem would go dance in the vineyards” on the 15th of Av, and “whoever did not have a wife would go there” to find himself a bride.
And this is the day which the Talmud considers the greatest festival of the year, with Yom Kippur (!) a close second!
Indeed, the 15th of Av cannot but be a mystery. As the “full moon” of the tragic month of Av, it is the festival of the future redemption, and thus a day whose essence, by definition, is unknowable to our un-redeemed selves.
Click here to read more essays on Tu B''Av