This day occurs six days after Tish’ah B'av - the 9th of Av - the day the Spies returned to the Israelites in the desert and gave a negative depiction of the Promised Land. The people lost heart and cried that they did not want to go there; as a result, that generation was doomed to wander in the desert for forty years, and only their children would merit to enter the land. Each year, on the anniversary of that night, thousands of people would die. And then one year, the Israelites awoke in the morning and discovered that no one had perished overnight. Had they calculated the day of the month correctly? They waited another night, and then another; when the fifteenth of the month arrived, and with it a full moon, they knew without a doubt that there was no mistake: the decree was finally over.
The first generation entering the Promised Land was restricted, in certain cases, from marrying outside their own Tribe. This was to maintain the territorial boundaries of each tribe’s sector in the Promised Land. In the next generation the restriction was lifted, and there was great joy at the ability to marry freely whomever one chose.
In the Book of Judges, the tragedy of concubine in Gibe’ah sparked a civil war resulting in the death of tens of thousands, and the near annihilation of the Tribe of Benjamin. The surviving members of that tribe were not allowed to marry into the other tribes. On this day that ban was lifted, and the Tribe of Benjamin welcomed back into the Jewish People.
The wicked Jeroboam, King of the Ten Tribes in the North of Israel, established roadblocks to prevent Jews from making the pilgrimage to Jerusalem, which was located in Judea in the Southern Kingdom. On this day HOshea ben Elah, last ruler of the Northern Kingdom, removed those blockades and allowed the Jews to visit Jerusalem once more.
After the destruction of the Second Temple, the unsuccessful Bar Kochba revolt was crushed and the city of Beitar massacred by the Romans, who cruelly refused to allow the dead to be brought to burial for three years. When they finally allowed the dead to be buried, it was discovered that, miraculously, the bodies had not decomposed. The fourth blessing of the Grace After Meals - “The One Who is good and does good” - was composed in gratitude for this miracle.
Firewood was prepared for the Temple Altar during these months, when the hot summer sun could dry it adequately. As the heat of summer reaches its peak and then begins to wane, we celebrate the conclusion of the annual wood-chopping season.