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What Old Folks Can Teach Us

Rabbi Dr. Tzvi Hersh Weinreb

Rabbi Dr. Tzvi Hersh Weinreb

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We find that the Holy One Blessed be He bestowed honor upon the elderly very frequently.

At the burning bush: “Go and gather the elders of Israel”; In Egypt: “And you and the elders of Israel shall approach…’; At Sinai: Up to the Lord, you…and seventy of the elders of Israel”; In the desert: “Gather unto me seventy men from among the elders of Israel”; At the tent of meeting: “Moses called upon… The elders of Israel”; And in the messianic future the Holy One will again bestow honor upon the elderly, as it is written (Isaiah 24:23), “The Moon will be embarrassed and the Sun ashamed, for the Lord of Hosts will Himself reign upon Mount Zion and Jerusalem, and His elders will be granted honor.” – Midrash Rabbah Leviticus 11:8

Rabbi Shimon ben Yochai is emphasizing something that is fundamental to Judaism – something that Mrs. Martha Melohn articulated to me just weeks before she passed away. Not only should the elderly be granted kavod, respect; they must also be taken seriously. They have many values to teach us, both practically and spiritually. They represent, as did she, an indispensable resource for the community and for its leadership.

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