I t is the first warm Motzaei Shabbos of the year. I walk down the stairs of the large Sephardic synagogue that hosts the shiur I try to get to after Shabbos, and walk toward my car.

They walk past me, unaware of my presence. I smile; do I identify with them? I suppose I do. The evening is warm enough for him to just be wearing his white shirt, no jacket. She has on her long skirt, a snood, and they walk briskly, though slowing to glance at each other at some point in the conversation.

There must be a single sibling pressed into babysitting duty or, if everyone is in bed, the older children are in charge while their parents take a stroll down the wide, tree-lined avenue. A few private moments, discussing plans for the week, the approaching summer, or perhaps a brief recap of one child’s amusing comment or another’s dvar Torah at the Shabbos table.

Maybe they’re talking through the Sunday morning carpool or the next mortgage payment. The trivia that makes up a relationship, a mutual goal, or just the comfortable silence of two people who share a life together.

It’s seven years, I realize, always a number that signifies a cycle. Is walking alone a matter to which cycles apply? (Excerpted from Family First, Issue 545)