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Wednesday, February 28, 2024 - 19 Adar I 5784
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Older and Better

Life expectancy is on the rise world-wide, which means that the elderly population is growing and having an ever-increasing impact on society at large. Medical advancements are widening the gap between chronological, biological and mental age. Today we see more and more people who are vigorous and active well into old age, although still grappling with the physical, mental, social and economic changes brought about by aging. This situation has given rise to a need for professionals who can address the unique needs of the elderly in a post-modern world.

A knowledge of gerontology (science of aging) is essential also for those who work in the field of law, insurance, marketing, economics and healthcare—indeed, any entrepreneur cannot overlook this large and growing segment of the population. Specialization in gerontology is considered to be one of the most promising areas of employment in the future, and many people are seeking to join this field.

Like all developments in the world, this too was foreseen by our sages as part of the process of Redemption. As the prophet Zechariah (8:4-5) says, “Once again old men and women shall sit in the streets of Jerusalem, each man with his staff in his hand because of old age. And the streets of the city shall be filled, with boys and girls playing in its streets.

The Kabbalah explains that we are not only talking about living to a ripe old age with nachas from grandchildren in the traditional sense. We are talking about much more, in the era of Redemption. Our biology will return to the state it was in the beginning of creation, when people will live forever in ultimate good health. Women will be fertile well into old age and continue to bear many children. We will no longer fall prey to the evil inclination and all our decisions will be good.

Gerontology? We won’t need specialists to deal with the problems of aging. The population will be healthy and thriving, and moreover they will generously share their wisdom and expertise with the young. As the verse in Psalms states (92:13), “The righteous one flourishes like the palm; as a cedar in Lebanon he grows. Planted in the house of the Lord, in the courts of our God they will flourish. They will yet grow in old age; fat and fresh will they be.”

The righteous will remain young because it’s their nature to be constantly growing, not to be satisfied with yesterday’s achievements. And so it will be in the era of Moshiach. The battle with evil will end, but that does not mean that we will stagnate for eternity. Instead we will ascend constantly, growing and reaching ever-higher levels of goodness.



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