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October 10, 2015 / 27 Tishri, 5776
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Birthday Parties (Yoma 86a)


Even though reaching the age of 60 only gets one through the danger zone of Karet of Years and not Karet of Days, those for whom the cup is half full rather than half empty view it as an achievement worth celebrating. “Granted that you have made it through the Karet of Years, but have you made it through the Karet of Days?” asked one of Rav Yosef’s students. “I’ll take half,” replied Rav Yosef. “Avoiding Karet of Years is worth celebrating.”

Although life between 50 and 60 is in the karet danger zone, this does not by any means warrant the conclusion that death before sixty is inevitably due to karet. The Talmud is so concerned that people do not arrive at this superficial, pejorative conclusion that it states that karet occurs at the age of 60 when, in fact, it means between the ages of 50 and 60. This is out of deference to Shmuel the prophet, who died at the age of 52. He did not die as a result of karet but rather because God did not want to cause him the pain of witnessing the death of his disciple Shaul in his own lifetime.

About the Author: Raphael Grunfeld’s book, “Ner Eyal on Seder Moed” (distributed by Mesorah) is available at OU.org and your local Jewish bookstore. His new book, “Ner Eyal on Seder Nashim & Nezikin,” will be available shortly.

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