This Shabbat — Friday night, July 23, and Saturday, July 24 — is Tu b’Av, the minor Jewish holiday of love that occurs on the 15th day of the Hebrew month of Av.
The holiday’s origins lie in a talmudic passage that recalls life before the destruction of the Temple:
“There were no better (i.e. happier) days for the people of Israel than the Fifteenth of Av and Yom Kippur, since on these days the daughters of Israel go out dressed in white and dance in the vineyards. What were they saying: Young man, consider whom you choose?”
For most of the nearly 2,000 years since the destruction, dancing on the Fifteenth of Av has been about as common as dancing on Yom Kippur — which is to say, not at all.
But in recent decades, Israelis have revived the holiday as a Jewish answer to the Western holiday of love named after a martyred Christian saint.
And now, the holiday has its own stamps.
In an apt reflection of the high cost of living while female, the stamp featuring a man bicycling to a romantic date will cost you 3 shekels; the one that shows a woman in white dancing with a tambourine sells for 7 shekels.