A Vote for Seniors

Friday, 6 May, 2022 - 6:46 am

“Look thirty years younger!” the ad exclaims.  Anti-aging creams, hair-dyes, diets and better climates are all promoted to encourage us to prevent the inevitable aging of our bodies.  As a society we seem to abhor old age.

“Many years impart wisdom,” we are taught in the book of Iyov (Job).   Yet this advice seems hard to come by in today’s society.  More and more, the elderly are nudged out of the way to make room for the younger, more ‘vibrant’ segment of society.

Whether it’s in the workforce, in communal affairs, or family life – those with the longest of years often get the short end of the stick.

In this week’s Parsha of Kedoshim we read that, “You shall rise before the white-haired, and honor the face of the old man.”

The Talmud explains that this applies to all old people, regardless of relationship to you, status, or wisdom.

Why should a mediocre senior citizen be respected more than a youthful saint?

The Lubavitcher Rebbe once remarked, “The soul never ages, it only grows more vibrant.”

Ultimately, the Torah is teaching us the value of life itself.  Having lived through so many life experiences, the elderly are imbued with meaning.  To their junior onlookers they may sometimes appear slow or tired; but in the eyes of G-d they have achieved something priceless – life itself.  As the body declines, the soul shines.

Caring for the aged is not merely a responsibility to “pay back” for all the time they put in during their youth. It is an honor and a testament to the life they currently live – richer and fuller of meaning than younger folks.

The next time you are impatiently waiting on someone older than you, remember the privilege of fulfilling this mitzvah and enjoy the beauty of the soul.

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