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It is What it Is

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Photo: iStockphoto

Thirty days hath September,
April, June, and November…

Thirty days.
Four weeks and two days.
שְׁלוֹשִׁים Sh’loshim
The name for the first month following the burial of a loved one.
שְׁלוֹשִׁים Sh’loshim
It means ‘thirty.’

I have often remarked that when it comes to names, we Jews aren’t from the creative folks. Our terms lean towards the practical rather than the poetic.

מְזוּזָה Mezuzah. You know, that small box we put up on the doorpost? It literally means ‘doorpost.’

See what I mean?

שְׁלוֹשִׁים Sh’loshim concludes the initial thrity-day mourning period after the burial of a loved one. Though not as intense as the first week, this period too has its restrictions as it eases the mourner back into life. Unless the mourner is the son or daughter of the deceased.

For them, they leave the other mourners behind as they continue the rest of the journey towards the first anniversary of the death. Depending upon one’s family history, the one year anniversary is known as either yahrtzeit,יאָרצײַט, which means “Time (of) Year”(Ashkenazic) or as nakhala, נחלה, which means “heritage” or “inheritance” (Sephardic).

They are not alone, as other family members are there to offer support. And yet, it is they who bear the continued grief as they find their way in the world without their parent.

What poetic name, then, could be affixed to what concludes mourning for some, but not for all?

Sometimes the practical makes more of a statement.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Former Reform Jew permalink
    Saturday, 20 November 2010 9:23 am

    I’ve also heard some Sefardim use the term הילולה, Hilula, which means to revel in. I’ve mainly heard this term in connection to the anniversary of the death of a great rabbi.

    Many Sefardim have become accustomed to using the Yiddish phrase Yahrtzeit as well. In the same way that, there’s no Hebrew phrase for “matza ball” – they use the Yiddish word, k’neidel.

    (I once made the mistake of trying to say matza ball literally in Hebrew – cadur matza – and the native Hebrew speakers thought I meant a very very tough k’neidel that was inedible, and only fit for use as a baseball) ;p

    • Frume Sarah permalink*
      Sunday, 21 November 2010 8:13 pm

      Thanks for the new information. Really interesting. Especially about the Kadur Matza. Funny 😉

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