Monday, July 22, 2013

The Day of the Breaking of the Ax, Tu B'Av

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Today was Tu B'Av.  As you can see from the Google doodle, in modern Israel this ancient holiday has evolved into a day of love, with many of the trappings of Valentine's Day that we learned from  other countries.
But reading a good Chabad article today, I learned that the Talmud lists six joyous events which occurred on this 15th of Av.

Just recently we found an X word for ABC Wednesday:
 Josephus (Bellum Judaisum 2:17)   refers to Tu B'Av as the Feast of Xylophory ("Wood-bearing") because on that day the cutting of the wood for the main altar in the Temple was completed for the year.

Today I learned this from Chabad:
 When the Holy Temple stood in Jerusalem, the annual cutting of firewood for the altar was concluded on the 15th of Av. The event was celebrated with feasting and rejoicing (as is the custom upon the conclusion of a holy endeavor), and included a ceremonial breaking of the axes, which gave the day its name, the Day of the Breaking of the Ax.
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Why break the axes? Why not store them for next year’s cutting? Because the ax represents the very antithesis of what the altar, and the Temple as a whole, stood for.
Regarding the making of the altar, G‑d had instructed: “When you build a stone altar for Me, do not build it of cut stone; for if your sword has been lifted upon it, you have profaned it” (Exodus 20:22). “Do not lift iron upon it . . . The altar of G‑d shall be built of whole stones” (Deuteronomy 27:5–6). If any metal implement so much as touched a stone, that stone was rendered unfit for use in the making of the altar.
Our sages explain: “Iron was created to shorten the life of man, and the altar was created to lengthen the life of man; so it is not fitting that that which shortens should be lifted upon that which lengthens” (Talmud, Middot 3:4). Iron, the instrument of war and destruction, has no place in the making of the instrument whose function is to bring eternal peace and harmony to the world.
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 From the Chabad website.  Based on the teachings of the
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See also http://jerusalemhillsdailyphoto.blogspot.co.il/2009/08/dancing-in-vineyards-in-moonlight.html
and for fun look at  http://jerusalemhillsdailyphoto.blogspot.co.il/2008/06/woodpile.html

Happy Tu B'Av!

(Linking to Our World Tuesday.)



9 comments:

Mary Gerdt said...

Happy Tu B'Av! Thank you again for the history lesson.mary

Fun60 said...

It is so interesting to hear the history of customs.

Reader Wil said...

Happy Tu B'Av! I learned a new traditional ritual of the Jewish religion. The explanation you gave is very interesting and shows what great philosophers the Jewish rabbis are.I wish you a great new day in Jerusalem with new wisdom to guide us in the thoughts and traditions of your religion.
Your Dutch friend Wil

Gary said...

Interesting writings!! Boom & Gary of the Vermilon River, Canada.

VP said...

Happy Tu B'Av, Dina. I was more proficient in Jewish holidays a few years ago...

Dina said...

Well, Tu B'Av is not one of the better-known Jewish holidays. Now it is having a revival.

Pietro Brosio said...

Happy Tu B'Av, Dina! I've enjoyed this nice informative post, and it'a always interesting to look at Google's page of the various countries.

soulbrush said...

Havn't been around for ages, but your blog is always interesting to me. Happy Tu B'av.

Kay said...

Sending you lots of love and aloha, Dina.