The Sweetness of Melons


“Never was there as happy a time,” the Mishna says, “than Tu B’av. Because on that day all the young ladies would go out to the vineyards to sing and dance, and the dudes would hide in the trees and pick out the one they wanted to marry.”

Have you ever wondered to yourself, WTF? Since when is moping around in a tree looking at women dance and sing a permissible activity for a Tu B’av afternoon? Last I noticed, the mechitzas were arranged the other way around.

And then there’s Tu Bishvat. (What’s with all the Tu’s? Is it maybe something to do with the full moon? I wonder…) The birthday of the trees? Really? A holiday with zero significance in Jewish life, which no one has really figured out how to celebrate or mark. Constipation anyone? It’s kind of like the appendix of Jewish holidays. No one quite knows why it’s there.

So… is this maybe an allusion to a previous time? When halacha hadn’t been invented yet? When a celebration of sexuality during the harvest was totally a thing? When worshiping trees was more of the done thing than it was today? Maybe that person with the whiteout just didn’t do as good enough a job convincing you that Judaism has always been exactly what it is today, that it didn’t organically evolve from whatever the cultural fabric of the time was. Oops.

And the list goes on. From the animal sacrifices in the temple, which were totally a thing back then (but here it’s to ONE god, so it’s totally different) or the random stuff you eat on Rosh Hashana night. Maybe it’s time you didn’t try so hard to explain the mystical meaning of things and instead you just shrugged and acknowledge that this is just some dumb thing that people have been doing for a very long time.

And hey. That’s totally fine. We’re all busy doing stupid things for stupid reasons. I think all holidays are dumb. But maybe it’s time you didn’t stand on quite as high a pedestal while touting your superior holidays and their deep significance while bashing everyone else as being retarded for believing in Santa Claus (Eliyahu Hanavi at the end of Seder, anyone?).

Yes, I appreciate that you spend your holidays trying to become a better person while those gentiles around you just get drunk and try to kill Jews. I’m actually not knocking your commitment to growth. But there’s no reason to reach so far into the past, or too abstractly into the present, before you say “Hey, today’s the day I’m gonna try to be a better person.”

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