Susan Barth
Susan Barth
Advocate for Marriage Education in Israel

From tragedy to renewal: Triple celebration time

This Shabbat marks the greatest display of the shift from the darkness of Tisha B’Av to the commemoration of a double celebration of Shabbat Nachamu and Tu B’Av.

Shabbat Nachamu and Tu B’Av

In an article entitled “15 Av and ‘Nachamu’ Everlasting,” the author Rabbi Yitzi Hurwitz , explains the connection between this Shabbat and Tu B’Av as follows:

 

“The way our calendar is set up, Parshat Vaetchanan is always on Shabbat Nachamu, when we read the first haftarah of consoling: Nachamu nachamu ami (“Console, console My nation).”[1] It is also the Shabbat right before, after or on 15 Av, of which the Mishnah says, “There weren’t holidays for Israel, like the 15th of Av and Yom Kippur.” [2]These two days are ranked as the greatest holidays we have.”

 

And just as Shabbat Nachamu gives us the antidotal relief from the mourning to see the ray of sunshine at the end of the darkness, Tu B’Av takes the sunshine to a new level by extolling the themes of love and marriage.

The Opportunity for the Paradigm Shift on this Shabbat

One would not be hard-pressed to apply the terms of divorce and marriage to the events of Tisha B’Av and Shabbat Nachamu and Tu B’Av. On Tisha B’Av in effect, we had a divorce from Hashem as our sins mounted as a nation and culminated in the tragedies associated with the day. And yet, Hashem always forgives his people and that is what Shabbat Nachamu and Tu B’Av celebrates — the renewal symbolized by marriage. And what better way is there to celebrate than concentrating on the idea of a couple starting their lives as a union and all that it symbolizes.

Tu B’AV – It is All About LOVE

As I mentioned in a prior blog, entitled “Love is Not Enough — Love Always Wins:”

When we think about Tu B’Av and its theme of LOVE, it’s interesting to note that according to the Talmud “the daughters of Jerusalem would dance in the vineyard and whoever did not have a wife would go there” to find himself a bride. (Talmud Taanit 31a)

The blog also features a short presentation on “Three Simple Ways to Enhance Your Relationship” given by Professor Howard Markman on the topic of Tu B’Av and love and marriage.

Here is the link to view the fascinating presentation:

https://youtu.be/2ffMICtItBg

Tu B’Av lecture by Professor Howard Markman, Tmol Shilshom, Jerusalem

Photo credit: Sharon Altshul

It Starts with the Wedding

Tu B’Av can be synonymous with Renewal as couples are created and the union of marriage commenced. My journey into the world of marriage education started when my mother Feigel bat Tuvia Nisan died and I wanted to commemorate who she was — not from the place of darkness as her last 18 years of her life were plagued by the illness of Alzheimer’s, but to memorialize and celebrate the 52 years of the marriage made in heaven that she and my father had during their respective lifetimes. A summary tribute to her life and my father’s is included on the website of Together in Happiness.

This desire led to the initiation of The Givat Sharett Chesed Committee Simcha Gemach in memory of Feigel bat Tuvia Nisan back in 2007. The Gemach is an adjunct to The Givat Sharett Chesed Committee of Beit Shemesh which has serviced the poor and needy for over twenty-five years. The Gemach is dedicated to providing resources and information for brides and grooms and their families in planning every phase of the wedding from the time of engagement through the sheva brachot following the wedding.  Among its publications is our flagship product — The Wedding Guide.

 

The Third Reason to Celebrate — The Wedding Guide

This week we also have another reason to celebrate related to the topic of Tu B’Av and Weddings.

The Givat Sharett Chesed Committee Simcha Gemach is proud to announce the publication of the Sixth edition of The Wedding Guide. The Wedding Guide has been hailed as the one-stop shopping guide for a couple planning a wedding as it contains the soup to nuts checklist of anything you wanted to know concerning the planning of a wedding.

The website of The Givat Sharett Chesed Committee displays the items available for weddings is https://www.gscc.org.il/the-simcha-gemach/. The contact information for the purchase of the guide, the proceeds of which will go to The Givat Sharett Chesed Committee (which distributes funds to the needy of Beit Shemesh) is simchagemach@gmail.com

The Wedding Guide and Its Personal Messages for Couples

The publication of the Wedding Guide also served another purpose – it provided an educational forum for introducing the concept of pre-marriage education as a checklist item for marriages in Israel in particular.

The guide contains a personal letter to the Bride and the Groom which is referenced in the prior blog entitled “Can We Truly Inoculate our Love Life”.

Holistic Marriage

In the coming months our nonprofit Together in Happiness, which emerged as a complement to  The Simcha Gemach’s educational forums, will elaborate and offer symposiums on the topic of Holistic Marriages and their Importance for Israeli society. The recent articles mentioning the negative and potentially fatal health consequences of unhappy marriages reinforce the time-sensitive urgency for focusing on Holistic Marriage as the Alternative of Choice .

Shabbat of Celebration

One of our nonprofit’s Key messages is the importance of Date Night. We have the unique opportunity of transforming this Shabbat Nachamu and Tu B’Av to one of celebration — not just of coming out of the darkness of Tisha B’Av, but also of appreciating the gift of LOVE and our loves ones.

The suggestion of topics to think about

In the blog “For the Maidens of Tu B’Av — now What”, I outline a plan for what the Now What could be to engage society in a type of Peace Corp for marriage education.  The topic enlists especially the Rabbinic establishment as well as other stakeholders in helping couples focus on the Now What.  Our Project Chayei Sarah presented in last week’s blog illustrates a five-track plan for achieving the dissemination of marriage education over a ten-year vision.

Tu B’Av is said to be as significant as Yom Kippur – both offer the time for reflection on renewal. Let us take the plunge and each one dedicate himself or herself to take personal responsibility for making a positive contribution to creating the society where marriages flourish. We can truly be the light unto the nations in increasing marriages, not only for our own sake, but also for our future generations.

Shabbat shalom – Happy Tu B’Av

[1] https://www.chabad.org/library/bible_cdo/aid/15971/jewish/Chapter-40.htm#v1

[2] Last Mishnah of Taanit

About the Author
Susan Barth is founder and director of Israeli non profit Together in Happiness/B'Yachad B'Osher, promoting stronger, healthier marriages impacting Israeli society. A Project Management Professional (PMP) and businesswoman from the US, Susan sponsored and chaired the First International Conference on Marriage Education in Israel (attended by over 360 professionals) in Jerusalem in memory of her parents and launched I-PREP, an innovative marriage education curriculum. On November 8, 2017, Together in Happiness co-hosted with MK Yehudah Glick a historic Knesset seminar promoting government support for pre-marriage education
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