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Old: A Jewish Meditation On Time

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Avraham was old and advanced in years. (Bereshit 24:1)
 
My birthday just happened.

I am older than I’ve ever been.
 
I am old: I’m the exact age my father was when he died. The newborn daughter I brought to my father’s deathbed is nearly 25.
 
I am old: My body is teaching me that everything in the physical world is finite. It is a kind of experiential learning.
 
I am old: I am aware that some doors are well and truly closed to me now.
 
I am old: I have clear memories from more than a half-century ago.
 
I am old: I see the echoes of my own life in the lives my children are building. Once that was me. Now it is them.
 
I am old: I have met two new generations. And I have watched most of the people in the generations before me slowly fade away.
 
I am also young: My hair is not yet completely grey. My face is not yet lined with wrinkles.
 
I am young: I still make plans. I still reach forward in time.
 
I am young: I am more than 900 years younger than Methuselah was when he died and half the age of Moshe on his last day on earth.

I am young: I still grow. I still learn.
 
I am young: My soul is still expanding.
 
I am young: New ideas still germinate in my brain.

I am young: My capacity for loving others is fiercer than ever.

I am somewhere between the beginning and the end.
 
There is a Jewish teaching that before Avraham, people got to adulthood and stopped developing. Avraham asked God to introduce aging into the world. Avraham is the first person the Torah describes as old. In the midrash Bereshit Rabbah, we are told how Hashem answered him:

The Holy One Blessed be He said to him, "By your life! you have asked for a good thing and I am starting it from you." From the beginning of the book until this point aging was not written, Avraham rose, and aging was given to him, "Avraham was old and advanced in years."

I am humbled by the new age I just turned. It is a milestone.

A milestone.

But it is not a STOP sign.

I am nowhere near done.

 
 
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