Ritual for the Grape Harvest
This ritual may be performed in solitude or with a group.
Long ago, Tu B'Av was a holiday of dances to celebrate the grape harvest. Grapes, in Jewish life, are the symbol of the sacred spiral of time, for they are made into wine, and wine is what Jews use to sanctify and bless joyful holy days. This ritual honors the transformation of grapes into wine and imagines Tu B'Av as a day that celebrates the joy of unfolding time.
Open with a niggun, a wordless chant, or by meditating on the four elements or four worlds. Then state an intention, wish, or dream that you want to unfold over time, for yourself or the world.
Make a blessing over a bunch of grapes:
Masculine:Baruch ata adonai, eloheinu melekh ha’olam, borei peri ha’etz.
Feminine: Beruchah at shekhinah, eloheinu ruach ha’olam, boreit peri ha’etz.
Blessed are You, Infinite Presence, guide and spirit of the world, creator of the fruit of the tree.
Eat the grapes as a symbol of your unfulfilled intention or wish. Alternatively, use tart grapes and, before you bless and eat them, speak about some aspect of the Shekhinah's exile that you want to alleviate (God's presence was said to go into exile when the Temple was destroyed on the ninth of Av, just six days before Tu B'Av).
Spend some time in meditation or prayer, imagining the flow of time that lies inside of you. Go on a walk into nature if you are outside, and see how many signs of change and transformation you can find. Or, create a dance with music that helps you enter the spiral of life and find the point at which the dead parts of you fall away and your spirit is reborn. (Our group laid out a spiral on the floor and danced from the outside, where the grapes were, to the center, where the wine was.)
Then, make a blessing over a goblet of wine or grape juice to symbolize the fruition of your intention, or, alternatively, to symbolize the Shekhinah’s return from exile.
Baruch ata adonai, eloheinu melekh ha’olam, borei peri ha’gafen.
Beruchah at shekhinah, eloheinu ruach ha’olam, boreit peri ha’gafen.
Blessed are You, Infinite Presnece filling and suirrounding the world, creator of the fruit of the vine.
This ritual would fit well at the beginning and end of a morning or evening prayer service, or with a labyrinth walk: put the grapes at the entrance of the labyrinth and the wine at the labyrinth’s center, and do half the ritual at the beginning of the walk and half at the end.
Blessings over the Fruit of the Vine:
For wine or grape juice:
--Jill Hammer, Shoshana Jedwab, Caroline Kohles
Rabbi Jill Hammer is the author of The Jewish Book of Days: A Companion for All Seasons and Sisters at Sinai:New Tales of Biblical Women, and the director of Tel Shemesh. This ritual was conceived in consultation with Shoshana Jedwab and Caroline Kohles.
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