“Getting Good at Getting Older”: Jewish reflections on old age and new rituals for ageing

growing oldThe Torah considers old age a virtue and a blessing. Throughout the Torah, “old” (zakein) is synonymous with “wise”; the Torah commands us to respect all elderly, regardless of their scholarship and piety, because the many trials and experiences that each additional year of life brings yield a wisdom which the most accomplished young prodigy cannot equal. It describes Abraham as one who “grew old and came along in days” (Genesis 24:1)–his accumulated days, each replete with learning and achievement, meant that with each passing day his worth increased. Thus, a ripe old age is regarded as one of the greatest blessings to be bestowed upon man.

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