The Talmud teaches that, ” 80 is the age of strength.” What is the strength of 80 years?
A teenager is stronger physically, and a child can run farther and has much more energy! A 40-year old is quicker, and a 60-year old is more understanding of the ways of the world.
The strength of 80 is the wisdom that comes from experience and completion. Having run much of the course of life, having seen the follies and passions of the human heart rise and disappear, having seen their own and their friends’ dreams, limitations and achievements, an adult of 80 years is finally able to look at the human condition with compassion and some skepticism. At 80 years of age a person can review his/her life, acknowledging those who cared for him/her as children, paved their paths through life, for good or for ill.
In our infancy and childhood, each one of us was cared for by someone older. Now at 80 it is our time to allow the young to do the mitzvah of taking care of us.
If instead of seeing ourselves as an old person whose possibilities are in the past, we see ourselves as sages who can bring our wisdom and experience for the well-being of all, we no longer fear the evening of life as a time of suffering and futility, but as an opportunity for continued growth in consciousness towards tikkun olam, making this a better world for all generations.
Rabbi Debora Kohn