Torah Weekly

For the week ending 25 May 2019 / 20 Iyyar 5779

Parshat Bechukotai

by Rabbi Yaakov Asher Sinclair -
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The Torah promises prosperity for the Jewish People if they follow G-d's commandments. However, if they fail to live up to the responsibility of being the Chosen People, then chilling punishments will result. The Torah details the harsh historical process that will fall upon them when Divine protection is removed. These punishments, whose purpose is to bring the Jewish People to repent, will be in seven stages, each more severe than the last. Sefer Vayikra, the book of Leviticus, concludes with the details of erachin – the process by which someone vows to give the Beit Hamikdash the equivalent monetary value of a person, an animal or property.


Don’t Hang Around in the Waiting Room

“Your threshing will last till the vintage, and the vintage will last till the sowing; you will eat your bread to satiety…” (26:5)

The British Daily Telegraph writes: Collecting the state pension and bus pass at 65 has traditionally been seen as a watershed moment where middle age ends and the twilight years begin. But new research suggests that old age now starts at 74, with middle age lasting at least nine years longer than current estimates. Academics from the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) in Vienna, Austria, argue that old age should be measured not by age, but by how long people have left to live. In the 1950s a 65-year-old in Britain could expect to live a further 15 years. But today’s baby boomers are expected to live far longer after retirement. A recent estimate by the Office for National Statistics suggests that the average retiree can look forward to drawing their pension for up to 24 years — as much as 50 per cent longer than their parents’ generation. Researchers say that old age should be defined as having 15 or fewer years left to live, which for the baby boomers means that they are still middle aged until their 74th year. “If you don't consider people old just because they reached age 65 but instead take into account how long they have left to live, then the faster the increase in life expectancy, the less aging is actually going on,” said Sergei Scherbov, World Population Program Deputy Director at IIASA.

One of the problems that an aging population has caused is that people run out of things to do. Miami Beach in Florida is nicknamed “G-d’s waiting room.” But nowadays the wait has gotten much longer. Certainly one of the factors that causes aging is just sitting around waiting to be called out of the waiting room.

My father used to go into the office well into his nineties. The idea of retirement is not something that finds its place in Judaism. Seeing as a Jew always has an obligation to learn Torah, when someone’s pension drops through the letterbox it’s an opportunity to work harder and more meaningfully at what really matters — Torah and mitzvot.

“Your threshing will last till the vintage, and the vintage will last till the sowing; you will eat your bread to satiety…”

Rashi says about this verse that the prosperity will be so great that people will still be threshing their grain when the time comes to harvest the grapes. There is no greater blessing in old age than having a constant horizon of opportunity and work. It’s then that “you will eat your bread to satiety.” The satisfaction of feeling useful and productive is the greatest elixir of life.

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