Ekev 5773 – Tu B’Av and Tefillin

You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as an ornament between your eyes. (Devarim 11:18)

This past Monday we celebrated Tu B’Av. The Gemara states there were no happier days than Tu B’Av and Yom Kippur. Yom Kippur makes sense because we are atoned for our sins. What is so special about Tu B’Av though? The Gemara then lists six things that happened on Tu B’Av. One of them is the people of Beitar were buried on this day.

After the second Beis HaMikdash was destroyed, the Romans continued to get rid of the Jews in Israel. There was a large city where the Jews were fighting back called Beitar and the Jews were able to hold back the Romans. Eventually, though, this city also fell and hundreds of thousands of Jews were murdered. So many Jews were murdered that blood flowed down the streets. The Romans declared that those murdered were not to be buried and all of the Jewish bodies were stacked up above ground. Fifteen years later, on Tu B’Av, the Romans gave permission to the Jews to bury those who were murdered in Beitar. When the Jews came to bury the victims they found something amazing: not a single body had decayed. This is one of the reasons we celebrate on Tu B’Av.

Why did our Sages see this event as something so special that we should make a minor holiday on this day? Many miracles have happened throughout history and we rarely make a holiday for them. To understand the significance of this event, we need to look at the period in history. The Jews were feeling depressed. They were low. The world turned upside down for them. The Holy Temple was destroyed. Yerushaliyim was destroyed. Now, their last hope, Beitar, was destroyed. Thousands of Jews were dead. What hope was left?

Then, this event happened. A miracle! The Sages thought about this and said, “Miracles come from Hashem. Therefore, since Hashem did a miracle for us, He must still love us. Although this was only a “small miracle” the Jews realized that Hashem was still on their side. It was true that times were hard, but this event gave them hope. That is why we celebrate on Tu B’Av. A week after Tisha B’Av we celebrate because although there was just lots of destruction, all is not hopeless. We still have Hashem and He loves us.

Rav Pam makes a very interesting comment. Last week’s parsha and this week’s parsha contain the mitzvah of tefillin. In our tefillin, we have verses which praise Hashem. Everyday, Hashem also wears tefillin, but in His tefillin are verses that praise the Jewish people. There is a law that while one is wearing tefillin, he must constantly think about them. (This is why we constantly touch our tefillin during davening to remind ourselves of the tefillin). Just as we have this law, Hashem also has this law. He constantly thinks about His tefillin and what is inside of them. Therefore, Hashem is always thinking about the Jewish people and His love for us.

Hashem loves us very much!

Good Shabbos!
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