TU B’AV, LOVE IN THE TNUA

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Mariano Wexler (Mato), Shaliach Hanoar Hatzioni B’México

There are different versions to the story of the origin of the holiday of Tu B’Av. Some
associate it with a biblical festival alluding to nature, mainly due to the agricultural way of
life lived at that time. Others relate Tu B’Av’s origins to the salvation of the Tribe of
Binyamin, which was at risk of being exterminated due to a conflict that led the other
tribes to forbid its women from marrying men from this tribe until, eventually, the other
tribes canceled this prohibition, and the Tribe of Binyamin was saved. And so, there are
several reasons why we celebrate Tu B’Av, and that is why we associate it with the
celebration of love of the Jewish people.

Moreover, Tu B’Av represents the other angle of the month of Av, during which we also
commemorate Tisha B’Av, which is associated with the “baseless hatred” which led to the
destruction of the Jewish people. In Tu B’Av, we celebrate “baseless love”; we celebrate
life; we celebrate the affection towards our closest and most beloved people; we celebrate
the union, mutual commitment and the fact that we are not alone – we have someone to
take care of, admire, love and respect.

In many occasions, Tu B’Av goes unnoticed in the tnua, but this mainly has to do with us,
with what we do and feel. Much of what happens in the tnua and what we do as
educators is rooted in love, and there are different ways of love, many of which we
witness in the tnua. I would like to mention a few of them.

One of the most familiar forms in which love is expressed in the tnua is through the
madrich-chanich connection. The connection between the educator and the participant
evokes a relationship of mutual affection, respect and admiration. This connection is an
example of love that transcends generations, space and time. No matter how much time
passes, this affection remains alive, and we maintain it for those who were our chanichim
or madrichim.

Another form of love that appears in the tnua and, in my opinion, is essential for every
educator, is the passion for what we do. We are a part of the tnua by choice, because we
like it, because we love what we do; or at least, that is how I think it should be. When we
plan a peula, it is our passion that drives us to give our time and energies to make it the
best peula in the world. This is how it should be! When we are passionate, we invest
more; we give our best. Therefore, we must consider what happens to our passion when
we find it hard to give our time and energies.

The love for oneself, for who we are, is a fundamental part of us, and it is a love we must
constantly strengthen in our chanichim and madrichim. We must encourage them to
respect themselves, to care for themselves, to assume responsibility for their actions and to
know their limits. In the tnua, we perceive the personal example as the most powerful
means of education. Therefore, if the madrich does not respect and protect himself and
does not know his limits, he cannot serve as an example to others.

Finally, and highly importantly, in the tnua we also mention the love for Israel as an
inseparable part of our culture and Jewish identity. Israel is a central part of our
education. We contemplate whether we can criticize it, we debate how it should be, and
we visit whenever we can. In Israel, we experience perhaps the most significant year of
our lives, and many of us decide to settle there, build a family and make our small
contribution to make Israel a better society.

To summarize, I believe that, as educators, we must constantly strengthen these forms of
love since that is what makes us genuine, better people, better leaders and better
madrichim. In the words of the psychoanalyst and philosopher Erich Fromm in his book
The Art of Loving: “Love tries to understand, convince, revive. For this reason, he who
loves constantly transforms, captures more, notices more, is more productive, is more
himself.”

Chag Ahava Sameach!

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