In the space of a less than a week – just 5 days this year — we go from the day of deepest mourning to one of the most joyous days of the year. It really is a 180 degree shift. What’s interesting is also the emotions that underlie the polar opposites of the 9 of Av and the 15th of the same month.
On the 9th, we mourn the continued state of destruction of the Beis Hamikdash, which reflects the state of a loss that we feel in our relationship with G-d. While the first Beis Hamikdash was destroyed for cardinal sins, the second was destroyed and remains so because of sinas chinam, baseless hatred. Many suggest that the remedy for that is ahavas chinam, baseless love. The more precise term for love that demands nothing in return was already set by Chazal in Pirkei Avoth as ahava she’eyna tluya badavar love that does not depend on anything.
With that in mind, it’s possible to take a new perspective on what the young women say to the men in the vineyards as described in Taanis 31a
The daughter of Israel go out and dance in the vineyards. Anyone who lacked a wife went there….Our rabbis learned: The beautiful ones among them would say: “Raise your eyes to beauty, for a wife is only for beauty.” The girls who had yichus [well established, reputable families] would say, “Raise your eyes to family, for a wife is only for children.” The ugly ones among them would say, “Take what you take for the sake of Heaven, and adorn us in gold jewelry.”
The first two groups appeal to love on the basis of beauty or family connections. But the last group ask for love without an appeal to anything external at all. That is true love for the essence of the person and not the individual’s physical, material, or social assets. It is ahava she’eyna tluya badavar.
That is the form of love demanded by the girls who ostensibly have the least to offer demand. Furthermore, they place the onus of attractions on their husbands-to-be with the assurance that the right jewelry and clothes would work wonders on their looks.
After seeing some discussions by singles, I would also suggest another practical understanding of this account. So many people are quick to dump someone after a first date because they were less than impressed by the first impression. What the ugly girls’ argument really consists of is this: “True, we are not striking beauties. But we can grow attractive to you if you invest in the relationship.” This truth can apply to traits beyond looks; just substitute whatever striking trait you identify as attractive, ie. sparkling wit, charm, etc. Some people grow on you, but they have to be given the chance, and that takes a willingness to invest the time to allow their positive traits to shine through.