Last week, Lynne Harlacher was featured on a special TV program about Breast Cancer Awareness. Please click on this link to learn of Lynne’s courageous journey. Wishing you all strength and good health.
Today is my birthday. 50. It’s a big number. I remember when my father turned 50. I was a senior in college and my dad seemed so old. (Forgive me, Dad; I know you’re reading this.) Yet somehow, now, fifty doesn’t seem so old. Experienced yes. Old – not so much. It’s amazing how aging changes your perspective. Mark Twain famously said, “”When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.”
The Mishnah teaches that every stage of life is unique. Ben Hei Hei – with one of the great names in Jewish history – taught:
Five years is the age for the study of Scripture.
Ten, for the study of Mishnah.
Thirteen, for the obligation to observe the mitzvot.
Fifteen, for the study of Talmud.
Eighteen, for marriage.
Twenty, to pursue [a livelihood].
Thirty, for strength,
Forty, for understanding.
Fifty, for counsel.
Sixty, for sagacity.
Seventy, for elderliness.
Eighty, for power.
Ninety, to stoop.
Take a look at this teaching and explore whether Ben Hei Hei’s paradigm matches your own experience or sensibilities. Today, I am struck by the notion that it is not until age 50 that one is able to give advice. What is it about reaching fifty that empowers one to give counsel?
Having been fifty for only 14 hours, I am hardly an expert. Yet it seems to me that at this life stage, it is possible to see more clearly what is and is not important. How liberating. My blessing to you – of whatever age – is: May you live fully and love, forgive , enjoy your days and share your light with others. What a gift to reach this stage and to celebrate with my family and friends, including the precious members of Chisuk Emuna and our Harrisburg community.
Thank G-d and all of you for all of your kindness to my family and me over these twenty years. I am grateful to all who are doing so much to mark my twentieth anniversary with Chisuk Emuna on Shabbat morning. I look forward to seeing all those who can make it.
Shabbat Shalom to you and your families
PS. As part of my birthday celebration, I am considering attending a Meditation Retreat with Rabbi James Jacobson-Maisels. Some of you had the good fortune – as did I – to learn with him during his return visit to Harrisburg in June. Please click here for more details about these upcoming retreats.