The full moon of Av is associated with relationships. On this day, "the daughters of Jerusalem would go out ... and dance in the vineyards," and "whoever did not have a wife would go there" to find himself a bride (Talmud, Taanit 26b). But why is this so, why is this day associated with finding a soulmate?
Judaism teaches that every person has a ‘beshert’ - the other half of their soul for whom they search in order to marry. Forty days before a person is born, a heavenly voice announces their ‘beshert.’ The 15th of Av is forty days before the 25th of Elul which is the first day of Creation. That is why the full moon of Av celebrates relationships (B’nei Yissachar).
The moon teaches us three fundamental lessons about successful relationships:
1. The moon knows how to be humble and even invisible. It is not consumed with its own ego. That is lesson #1 in relationships: Be humble, be powerful enough to know when to defer.
2. Even when it shines, the moon knows that its light is not its own. Its power comes from another place, its strength is reflecting and channeling light from a higher place.
3. The moon illuminates the darkness. It does not try to eradicate the night but rather shines light into the darkness. Moonlight doest not deny or eradicate weakness, difficulty and pain, it acknowledges it and despite the pain, it continues to shine. A healthy relationship is not about perfection alone; it is about sensitively recognizing and knowing how to cope with and illuminate our weaknesses, even our darker sides.
You can truly love only when you are not consumed with yourself. When you are full with yourself, with your own sunlight, you may achieve many good things, but not love. Become a moon, a receptacle, and you can contain and love another. The full moon means being full with another. Your feeling of lack and incompleteness allows you to become the most complete.
Shabbat Nachamu is the first Shabbat following Tisha B’Av, the date on which both Holy Temples were destroyed, closing the window between heaven and earth. “Nachamu, Nachamu Ami – Comfort, Comfort My people,” - the words of the prophet reverberate through the following weeks, the Seven Weeks of Consolation. After the degradation and suffering experienced by the Jewish people, the prophet consoles and comforts them. But the Jews respond by saying that they don’t want the comfort of the prophets, they want to be comforted by G-d Himself.
Why did G-d comfort the Jews through a messenger? By commanding a human being to comfort the people, G-d imbues each of us with the ability and the power to comfort another. It would seem that a mortal can do very little to console another – we don’t have the power to compensate for loss or the ability to change someone’s situation. But, through these words of comfort given to us through a human being, G-d gives each one of us Divine strength to truly comfort another human being who is suffering and in pain.