Old is beautiful

The elderly venerable man or woman before you is living testimony to the living God of Israel.

Rabbi Nachman Kahana ,

Rabbi Nachman Kahana
Rabbi Nachman Kahana
אתר האינטרנט של הרב

Vayikra 19,32: Arise in the presence of the aged and admire the elderly and revere your G-d. I am the L-rd.

The following term appears often in our sources: Old wine that provides pleasure for the elderly...

Why is the pleasure of old wine associated with the elderly, when there are many young people who enjoy a good glass of old wine?

I suggest:

The elderly are often sidelined to a spectator status after experiencing decades of participation in active life and society. Often depression sets in, with the feeling that their importance has diminished to the extent that they are more a burden to society and family than an asset; their future is behind them. Many are resolved to the feeling that this is the fate of all things old in a world geared to the young, fresh, and new.

The rabbis, in their great wisdom, were revealing an important lesson that is inherent in a glass of old wine. An elderly person sips a glass of old kiddush wine, and it is good and sweet. Suddenly, he realizes that "old" is not necessarily worthless. On the contrary, just as old wine has greater value than freshly produced wine, so too can the elderly perform functions in society which the young are unable to do.


Just as old wine has greater value than freshly produced wine, so too can the elderly perform functions in society which the young are unable to do.
Our Jewish great-grandfathers and great-grandmothers have always been held in high esteem and love for their chachmat chayim (life’s wisdom), but much more so in our time. For they perform, effortlessly, what is probably the highest and most eminent function possible. They are the living proof, indeed the only tangible, irrefutable, undeniable proof, for any objective mind, that God exists and that He is a Religious Zionist.

The Midrash Tanchuma (parashat Noach) and other sources cite three righteous individuals who saw their former lives destroyed and then rebuilt through Hashem’s mercy.

Noach lived in a highly developed society. He saw the world utterly destroyed, and then merited to live after the deluge to experience humanity flourishing once again. Daniel saw the first Temple, its destruction and galut of seventy years, and merited to see the rebuilding of the second Temple. After living the good life, Eyov (Job) experienced the death of all his family, abject poverty and sickness, and then saw his life rebound in all its glory.

Today’s elderly are living proof and irrefutable testimony that Hashem is the God of Israel and that we are His chosen nation.

Octogenarians of sound mind can tell you what Jewish life was prior to the Second World War. One did not have to be an observant Jew to have been aware of the strength of Torah in Eastern Europe and in most Jewish communities in Moslem lands. The Jewish genius was recognized even by those who hated us for it, and there was a feeling of pride in belonging to the Children of Israel, whose roots went back 3500 years.

Then the heavens fell from their pillars and the Jewish people were engulfed in devastation. When the air cleared in 1945, and we counted our losses, the enormity of the Shoah became unescapably clear. One of every three Jews who were alive on September 1, 1939 was murdered; so that the Jewish people were less than 12 million at the war’s end.

Pride turned to shame. The Torah was trampled upon with the destruction of the Torah centers of Europe. The sackcloth replaced the tallit, when it became known that over twelve thousand Jews were murdered daily in the Auschwitz camp alone, not to mention the hundreds of additional slave and death camps the Germans activated all over Europe. And the remnant asked, “Who will and who can resurrect the Jewish spirit to reinforce our belief that we are Hashem’s chosen people?”

But the elderly of today join with Noach, Daniel and Eyov in forming a very elite group of Jews who saw the Jewish world brought to its knees, but miraculously spread its wings to gain ever higher levels of Torah and faith in Hashem.

One need not do more than be aware of their presence amongst us, and then realize that the elderly venerable man or woman before you, is living testimony to the living God of Israel.

The miraculous rejuvenation of our nation occurred after the defeat of the German-Amalek with the rebirth of Medinat Yisrael. The greatest proof that the Creator exists, and that the world is determined by His will is the improbable survival and flourishing of the Jewish people, as stated by the prophets.

The younger generation that has not personally witnessed the extreme changes of the last 70-80 years in Jewish history can indulge itself in the false "luxury" of bashing Medinat Yisrael; from the black-garbed Chareidi communities of the galut, some of whom make pilgrimages to the Hitlers of Iran, down to the majority of US Jews under 35 years of age, who reportedly would not feel any great loss if there would not be a Medinat Yisrael!

I suggest that they sit down with the "old folks" and learn from them the wisdom gleaned from personal experience; what it felt like to be a Jew without Medinat Yisrael and what the Medina has contributed to our lives.

Amalek is not a myth. Indeed, he is alive. He is present in Islam and Christianity. He is forever planning, contriving and designing to destroy the Jewish people wherever the Jew might be found: at Ground Zero; in Dearborn, Michigan; in the White House or the U. N., Amalek constitutes an ever-present danger to the Jewish people, regardless of whether the individual Jew is a Torah-observant person or if he is a sworn atheist.

The Medina was restored to Am Yisrael to be, among other things, the Noah’s ark for our people to survive, and then to thrive, as we had not done for over the last 2000 years of galut.

When my mother was ninety, she told me that, inside, she felt the same as when she was 18! So young men and young women, sit down and glean the wisdom of your "old” 18-year-olds. You will go away a better Jew, and a better person.

Learn the secrets of a meaningful life from those who have gone the distance, those elderly who are a “deposit box” of wisdom and experience.

Rabbi Nachman Kahana is a Torah scholar, author, teacher and lecturer, Founder and Director of the Center for Kohanim, Co-founder of the Temple Institute, Co-founder of Atara Leyoshna – Ateret Kohanim, was rabbi of Chazon Yechezkel Synagogue – Young Israel of the Old City of Jerusalem for 32 years, and is the author of the 15-volume “Mei Menuchot” series on Tosefot, and 3-volume “With All Your Might: The Torah of Eretz Yisrael in the Weekly Parashah” (2009-2011), and “Reflections from Yerushalayim: Thoughts on the Torah, the Land and the Nation of Israel” (2019) as well as weekly parasha commentary available where he blogs at http://NachmanKahana.com




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