This morning I marked the end of sitting shiva for my mother of blessed memory, by doing the traditional walk around the block together with my brother, my sister in law and their two dogs.
I came to Cape Town from Israel a week ago today, after learning the sad news that my mom had passed away, quite suddenly.
Cape Town is well known as the Mother City. This name has now taken on a new meaning for me.
The traditional walk around the block serves two purposes: it announces to the world that the mourner is re-entering the public sphere, and it provides support for the mourner making that transition from withdrawal to engagement in society.
My Mom was born on the 13th Day of Cheshvan. As I began to “re-engage”, I could not help notice today’s Hebrew date – 13th of Adar and its correlation to the Gregorian Calender date – 13th of February.
Having been born on the 13th Day of Av myself, I have always been intrigued by the symbolic meaning of the number 13 in Judaism.
Thirteen in gematria is the value of “echad” (One) and also “ahava” (love). It represents “Oneness’.
My Mom’s Hebrew name is Miriam (מרים). This name begins with an open ‘mem” and ends with a closed ‘mem’. The “mem” is the 13th Hebrew letter. It sounds similar to “mayim” and is therefore the letter of water. The final mem ם represents various forms of water both in its form as well as its name. One of these is the womb.
My Mom’s English name is Marcelle. Interestingly the letter “M” in English is also the 13th middle letter of the alphabet. The pronunciation of the name of this English letter “em’ quite remarkably is the same as that of the Hebrew name for mother אם.
Cape Town, being a beautiful peninsula, at the tip of Africa is famous for its waters.
It is a metropolis (apparently the source of its nickname “The Mother City” comes from the Greek derivation of meter or metros meaning mother and polis meaning city). It is a very open multicultural city – the open “mem’. Yet it is very contained as it tapers towards Cape Point and closes Africa at its tip – the closed “mem”.
As I walked around the block today, with the classic ocean view to Table Mountain alongside, I walked the “mem”, completing the shiva for my Mom, completing the circle, on this 13th Day of Oneness.
My walk around the block, closes many circles, connects many paths, many waters and many journeys.
One mother; One love